Summary: Some love the taste of God’s Word, others hate. The way God’s Word taste to us will determine the way we live our lives here and it will determine where we spend eternity.
“How does it taste?” If that isn’t the most asked question on cooking shows, I don’t know what is. What do you suppose is the most popular response to that question? “It tastes gross!” No, I don’t think I’ve ever heard that response before. After all, if you’re good enough to have your own cooking show, I’m sure that whatever you make is going to be delicious. Of course that might not be the case if it was a foreign cooking show. For example if you were invited on to the set of a Japanese cooking show that was featuring natto, a sticky and rather smelly substance made of fermented soybeans, I’m pretty sure you would not be pleased with the meal you had to try. Natto is one of those foods you either love or hate. There’s no in between.
God’s Word is a lot like natto. You either love it or you hate it. That’s clear from the experience the Apostle Paul had in our text this morning. Some of the people Paul shared God’s Word with loved it, while others hated it. What about us? How does God’s Word taste to us? The way we answer this question will determine how we live our lives here, and where we will spend eternity.
After his conversion, the Apostle Paul’s life mission was to serve up God’s Word to as many people as possible. Today we catch up with Paul in Thessalonica, a bustling Greek city of 200,000. Upon arriving there, Paul went to the synagogue where he fed his listeners a steady of diet of what the Old Testament had to say about the promised Messiah. He no doubt began with the bitter teachings about sin. Perhaps Paul quoted Isaiah 59:2, 3: “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. 3 For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken lies, and your tongue mutters wicked things.” No one likes it when their phone goes dead but that’s what they can expect to happen if they don’t pay their phone bill. In essence, that’s what’s happened to our relationship with God. Because of the lies we speak, because of the things we mutter under our breath about one another, because of our debt of sin, the phone line between God and us has been disconnected. We can pray to God all we want, but sin blocks our calls from getting through.
Of course that’s not the way God wants things to stand. He wants to be able to communicate and to commune with us. And so he promised to send the Messiah who would restore the broken connection. The prophet Isaiah spoke about that too when he said: “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). The Messiah restored the broken connection by paying our debt of sin. Would your phone company do that? Would it pay for damage you did to your phone line? In this day and age of customer service we may expect the phone company to do just that, and the phone company itself would want to get us back on line quickly so that we’ll use the phone again and generate business for them. But there was no such incentive for God to restore our broken relationship with him. He doesn’t need us. He can get along well without us and did so before he created the world. But in his love, and at great cost to himself, God restored the broken relationship by sending his Son who died on the cross for our sins.
Everything that Paul shared with the people in the synagogue at Thessalonica should have been well known to them. What they may not have known, however, was that the Messiah had come and that person was Jesus. When Paul shared that message, some loved the taste of God’s Word and embraced it, others hated it. Those who hated the Word gathered a mob to force Paul out of their city and to silence the teaching about Jesus.
It’s not surprising that many hate God’s Word so much. What is surprising is that anyone likes it. That’s because by nature we don’t like to hear that we can’t come to God on our own terms. We would much rather devour a “salvation” meal of our own making which says that as long as we acknowledge God and are decent people, we’ll get to heaven. But Friends, God doesn’t just want us to acknowledge him (even Satan does that), he wants us to admit that we have sinned and continue to sin, and that without his grace and love we are lost. God’s Word about our sin may be a bitter pill to swallow, but it’s a lot better than downing a homemade “salvation” meal that may taste good now but will lead to eternal indigestion.