The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-24)
It was almost Christmas, and I was certain that I couldn’t live much longer without a “My Little Pony.” Most of my friends already had two or three, and it seemed like I was the only one who didn’t have one of those chubby, pastel-colored, soft little plastic horses. I wanted one of those trendy little ponies with all of my nine-year-old heart. I dropped more than a few hints to my parents as I imagined what I’d name my pony, how I’d braid its mane and tail, where it would “sleep” in my room…
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, children are superb examples of wholehearted longing and single-minded devotion – alternatively, we could say, they are excellent examples of covetousness. Remember Ralphie in the classic holiday movie “A Christmas Story?” All he could think and dream about was that Red Ryder bb gun.
We look back on our childhood earnestness now and we laugh. How could we believe that just one thing could fulfill our deepest desires? Did we really think we couldn’t go on without a remote control car? Was our life ultimately that much better because we got a brand new bike? Yet if we’re honest, we’ll admit that we do the same thing (on a slightly more sophisticated level, perhaps) as adults – focusing on, working toward, dreaming about, yes, even coveting, that one new possession that will improve our lives immeasurably. We’ve simply progressed from My Little Ponies and Red Ryders to new cars, down payments on our own houses, laptops, HDTVs.
As you’ve probably guessed, my Little Pony is long gone, and before the first department store had even begun its Christmas advertising the next year, I was already coveting something else that I was sure I couldn’t live without. And it’s the same when we’re adults – weeks, months, or years later, we discover that achieving our one longing wasn’t really a permanent fix after all, but instead of learning our lesson, we begin to hunger for the next.
Contrast this worldly hunger with the attitude of the prophet Jeremiah, who burned his farm implements and slaughtered his oxen to answer the Lord’s call. He exulted, “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God Almighty” (Jer. 15:16). The Word of God is to be our very sustenance and our joy. The Incarnate Word affirmed: “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35).
Graciously, he seals this promise of eternal satisfaction for us in the Lord’s Supper. He does this for you, for me, as often as we approach. I approach the table and kneel with my covetous heart set on its latest desires, only to receive the outright gift of the One true desire. I taste the Word and exclaim along with Jeremiah that it is my joy and my heart’s delight. I realize anew that there is indeed one thing, just one thing, without which I simply cannot live, and that it is given to me there at the altar.