About 10 years ago, I was walking through downtown Omaha after lunch. I hadn’t walked far before I was approached by a disheveled gentleman asking if perhaps I had some money I could spare for him. This was not uncommon for that part of town and I imagine many of you are familiar with the experience. He had the appearance of a vagrant, a man who slept on bus benches and in alleyways. Previously, I had been content to hand over a few dollars but I was under the conviction at the time that this was not the best response. I felt that giving cash would only enable and encourage whatever poor decisions had brought him to this place in his life.

Instead, I told the man that if he was hungry, I would be happy to buy him lunch at any place he chose. He thanked me and led me around the corner to a small deli where he approached the counter and placed an order for fried chicken and sides. I paid for his meal which was promptly delivered and placed in his hands. I wished him farewell and started to leave but as I opened the door on my way out, I overheard him ask the lady behind the counter if he could return his food and get the money instead. I don’t know whether she honored his request or not. I doubt she would but I didn’t stick around to find out. Apparently the man wasn’t hungry for food after all.

I was very discouraged by the experience. I assumed he was hungry for his addiction whatever that might have been but the truth is, he wasn’t hungry for those things any more than he was hungry for food. I wish I could have offered him what he was really hungry for but to be honest, I was still quite hungry for it myself. When Christ was tempted to turn stones into bread, He quoted Moses from Deuteronomy 8:3. In this verse Moses explains to the Israelites how God caused them to go hungry and then gave them bread that fell from heaven in order to teach them than people need more than food in order to live. In order to truly live, we must be fed with the complete word of God and that Word is Christ.

People are all hungry for the Word of God. Hungry for Christ. Starving in fact. How do we feed them? When I left the man at the deli I probably said something like “God bless you” or “God loves you” as I excused myself but I didn’t feed him. I can only hope that maybe he caught the scent of a satisfying meal as if somewhere off in the distance, but Moses said in Deuteronomy 30 that this meal is not somewhere far up in the heavens that you have to climb up to it, nor is it so far below the sea you must plumb the depths for it. It is very close. It is in fact on our lips and in our hearts.

Paul explains this passage for us in Romans 10. We don’t need to climb up to heaven for this meal, God’s Word, because God sent it (Christ) down to earth. Nor do we need to scale down to the grave for it because God raised Him from the dead. The meal we offer, or the message we preach as Paul says, is already within easy reach. It’s righteousness based on faith. With your mouth you confess that Jesus is Lord and with your heart you believe God raised Him from the dead. This meal is very near indeed! It’s on our lips and in our hearts and what a feast it is!

Do you know how God spends His days? I assume most of us imagine God has a great many affairs to rule over and is quite busy, but Paul answers this question for us at the end of this chapter by quoting Isaiah 65:2. The Lord says through the prophet, “I hold out my hands all day long to a stubborn people, but they ignore me, going their own way.” Surely, God has better things to do right? No He doesn’t. He has prepared a feast for you and all day long, every day, He holds out His hands to you, inviting you to take and eat. Those who accept His invitation, those who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness, will be filled!