November 22, 2023
Pastor Gunnar Ledermann
2 Kings 4:38-44
2 Kings 4:38-44
38 Elisha returned to Gilgal and there was a famine in that region. While the company of the prophets was meeting with him, he said to his servant, “Put on the large pot and cook some stew for these prophets.”
39 One of them went out into the fields to gather herbs and found a wild vine and picked as many of its gourds as his garment could hold. When he returned, he cut them up into the pot of stew, though no one knew what they were. 40 The stew was poured out for the men, but as they began to eat it, they cried out, “Man of God, there is death in the pot!” And they could not eat it.
41 Elisha said, “Get some flour.” He put it into the pot and said, “Serve it to the people to eat.” And there was nothing harmful in the pot.
42 A man came from Baal Shalishah, bringing the man of God twenty loaves of barley bread baked from the first ripe grain, along with some heads of new grain. “Give it to the people to eat,” Elisha said.
43 “How can I set this before a hundred men?” his servant asked.
But Elisha answered, “Give it to the people to eat. For this is what the Lord says: ‘They will eat and have some left over.’” 44 Then he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord.
“Here, eat this!” This phrase can go a number of different directions depending on who says it. If it is grandma, it might be a traditional family favorite. If it is grandpa, it is probably a sweet treat that you are not supposed to eat until after dinner. If it is mom and dad, it might be vegetables. If it is an unruly uncle, then you should probably give whatever they offer you to the dog.
It matters who offers you something to eat. There are people you trust to give you something good to eat and there are others that you split a DoorDash order with. In our reading today from 2 Kings 4, the prophet Elisha was visiting a company of the prophets. Today we would call it a pastors’ conference. It was time for them to eat but it was not going to be a Thanksgiving feast. There was a famine in the land, but Elisha told his servant, 38 … “Put on the large pot and cook some stew for these prophets.” Since there was a famine, and not like a, “I could not fine pumpkin pie at Costco and had to settle for one of the other eight choices,” kind of famine but a hope you can find some unopened expired spam in the dumpster kind of famine, one of the men went out scavenging. He found some wild gourds and brought back as many as he could carry. Certainly, the man gave thanks for the gourds along with the others who expected no foul play from their brother in the faith. After they tasted it though, they cried out, 40 “Man of God, there is death in the pot!” And they could not eat it. The gourds were bad, and they could not eat, but they were still hungry.
Even with the best intentions there was death in the pot. This man of God did his best to serve God’s people, but he almost killed the prophets of God. Your best intentions do not guarantee a healthy result. All of you have put in the time, effort and planning, even the prayer, but you will still be hungry this Thanksgiving even though a lot will be put in front of you to digest. Someone will be hamming it up with everyone crack jokes and going too far to cover up their insecurities. Someone will be roasting everyone calling out the turkeys making you feel like a bird brain for your choices in school, career, money management, parenting style, relationship choice, etc. over the last year. Someone will be green with envy as it seems others have a magic bean stock sprout in all their ventures, while their efforts wither. Someone’s life will be stuffed with activities, vacations, purchases to cover up their lack of having anything of real value in their life. Someone will overindulge hoping to escape their toxic reality until the intoxication ends and the pain remains. And for dessert someone will serve up a lot of sweet things to you but when they walk away you feel like they gave you a slice of passive with a scoop of aggressive. You have a lot to digest at Thanksgiving and every day. Even with our best intentions, we end up bringing and being served bad dishes. Our problem is that we ignore the spiritual famine that we live in. Sin lies about what will satisfy us. Sin ruins our best intentions. Sin leaves us with death. Sin pulls us away from eating at the table with the one who gives us life.
At Jesus’ table, leftovers are not what you think they are. So often sin causes what Jesus has done for you to be the leftovers. Instead, Jesus is the main course. This world is a pot of death, but Jesus is life. In our reading from 2 Kings 4, when Elisha heard the stew was poison, 41 Elisha said, “Get some flour.” He put it into the pot and said, “Serve it to the people to eat.” And there was nothing harmful in the pot. God allowed Elisha to miraculously take away the poisonous effects of the stew with flour, and the stew gave life in a famine. God has given you life. The many systems at work in the world to provide you with life were created by and are constantly maintained by God. More than that, God has provided you with eternal life. After Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the five thousand in John 6, 35 … Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Then he explained what he was talking about, 40 “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” Jesus was raised up on the cross carrying all our best efforts and worst dishes, all infected and thoroughly corrupted with the yeast of sin and sacrificed himself for you. His resurrection is the proof he saved you. Through him, you have been healed and your eternal life in heaven is the main course Jesus provided you.
Give thanks because Jesus has given you leftovers. Despite the spiritual famine we live in, there are leftovers for us to share. In our reading from 2 Kings 4, we read, 42 A man came from Baal Shalishah, bringing the man of God twenty loaves of barley bread baked from the first ripe grain, along with some heads of new grain. “Give it to the people to eat,” Elisha said. 43 “How can I set this before a hundred men?” his servant asked. Now, the barley loaves were probably not as insignificant as putting twenty King’s Hawaiian rolls in front of one hundred Thanksgiving guests, but they still were not anywhere near enough to fully satisfy these men. But Elisha answered, “Give it to the people to eat. For this is what the Lord says: ‘They will eat and have some left over.’” 44 Then he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord. The Lord again allowed a miracle. The word of the Lord did not fail Elisha, nor does it fail us. Jesus has saved us, and he has provided salvation for all people. Often it is tempting to think of our lives here in this world as the leftovers, since eternal life in heaven is waiting for us through Jesus. Instead, I would encourage you to realize that the leftovers are what you have to share with others because God’s salvation is for all. Psalm 145 makes it clear that there is more than enough Jesus to go around, and he wants us to share him so that more give him thanksgiving for all he has done, 15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. 19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. 21 My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever.
“Here, eat this!” In this sinful world, your plate might look empty at first glance as you think about not having enough opportunity, education, healthy, strength, energy, money, time. First, feed your soul with Jesus. With your sins forgiven and confidence that you have a seat at the banquet table of heaven, God will fill your heart with thanksgiving. Your perspective will also change, and the unchanging blessings of God will remind you that your plate is quite full. God does also provide you with what you need to live each day and many Christian brothers and sisters who are ready to give and help you when you are in need. With so much from God, you have leftovers. With those in your life scavenging through life only having death in their pot, put some Jesus into their life and pray the Holy Spirit gives them faith, hope and life. Give thanks to God for all he has given you and give thanks for the Lord gives us enough to have leftovers. Amen.