A God Who Hungers

A God Who Hungers

Sermon for Ash Wednesday

Rev. Gregory Mech | March 6, 2019 | Wednesday Lenten Service | 4:00 pm | Immanuel Lutheran Church – Joplin, MO

A God Who Hungers

“Behold the man!” was Pontius Pilate’s short, yet most profound, sermon. Our endeavor this Lententide and Easter Sunday is to behold the man, God in human flesh, Jesus. Each time together, we are meditating on and proclaiming His real, bodily suffering and death as well as His physical resurrection. He knew all that real bodies experience; He suffered, wept, bled, ate, and hoped.
Today, we remember how the man Jesus fasted for forty days, refusing to eat—the direct opposite to our first parents, who ate the forbidden fruit in their rebellion. Eating and fasting were very physical actions for Jesus; His body needed sustenance. In the Sermon on the Mount (today’s Gospel), Jesus doesn’t command fasting, once a hallmark of Lent; rather, He says, “When you fast.” Whether we individually fast or not, our elder Brother does give us what we need for every aspect of our lives: Himself, in, with, and under the bread and wine, for the forgiveness of sins.
As we move through this season of Lent, it will become increasingly clear why God became man: He lived this physical life in order to be nailed to a cross. Thereby, we are truly preparing for the celebration of His real, bodily, flesh-and-blood resurrection. Without that, our faith and our preaching are all in vain. God the Son became the embodied, incarnate Son of Mary. In Jesus, God has human flesh, a body, just like us. What could be more profound? Behold the man, who has led the way for us through death to our own physical resurrection!


HYMN “O Lord, throughout These Forty Days” (LSB 418)


P In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

C Amen.


P The forty days of Lent have historically been a time of instruction for people desiring to join the church and are a time for introspection for the whole Body of Christ as we prepare to celebrate our Lord’s resurrection. The disciplines of Lent include repentance, prayer, acts of service, and fasting. This year, we will behold the man Jesus in His physical life, suffering, death, and resurrection. And today, we consider His fasting during His forty days in the wilderness, His extreme hunger. Today is also a day for us to reflect on how we have dealt with our own physical hunger and our trust in God for all we need to support this body and life.


P When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, . . . she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

C Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. Genesis 3:6–7

P Jesus … for forty days, being tempted by the devil … ate nothing during those days. 

C And when they were ended, He was hungry. Luke 4:1–2

P The birds of the air . . . neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. 

C Are you not of more value than they? Matthew 6:26

P Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! 

C Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! Psalm 34:8

OLD TESTAMENT READING, Part 1 Joel 2:12–17 

(God calls us to stop everything and repent.)

L Through the prophet Joel, the Lord calls for repentance. A reading from the second chapter of Joel.

“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.”

Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and He relents over disaster.

Who knows whether He will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord your God?

Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber.

Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep and say, “Spare Your people, O Lord, and make not Your heritage a reproach, a byword among the nations.

Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’”

L This is the Word of the Lord.

C O Lord, have mercy.


P Let us heed our Lord’s call and go to Him in repentance.

C Most merciful God, we confess that we are by nature sinful and unclean.

P We have sinned in our thinking.

C When food was plentiful, we have assumed we deserve full stomachs and filled pantries. 

P We have sinned in our speaking. 

C When food was scarce or costs increasing, we have wondered aloud about Your caring for us.

P We have sinned in our acting.

C When having to make choices, we have put our wants before the physical needs of our neighbors.

P Show us the true humanity of our Lord Jesus; help us grasp the pain and suffering He endured as He dealt with physical hunger and as He hungered for our salvation.

C Forgive us, renew our trust in Your daily and eternal care, and lead us in paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake. Amen.


P Ashes have been a sign of repentance and contrition over the centuries. They are a reminder that, without the mercy of almighty God, we deserve the spiritual death pronounced on our first parents. Without the sustenance God provides on every level of human existence, we are only dust, and to dust we shall return.

(Those desiring ashes come forward as directed. As he makes the sign of the cross with the ashes, the elder reminds the penitent, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” The penitent responds, “Amen.”)

(Silence is kept as the ashes are applied. Those in their seats may meditate on Psalm 51 in the hymnal.)

OLD TESTAMENT READING, Part 2 Joel 2:18–19 

(The Lord responds in forgiving love.)

L When God’s people have repented, the Lord has had pity on them. Joel continues:

Then the Lord became jealous for His land and had pity on His people. The Lord answered and said to His people,

“Behold, I am sending to you grain, wine, and oil, and you will be satisfied;

and I will no more make you a reproach among the nations.”

L This is the Word of the Lord.

C Thanks be to God!


P The Lord has had pity on us. Because of the obedience of His only-begotten Son, the man Jesus, we are able to come into God’s presence without fear of punishment. As a called and ordained servant of Christ, and by His authority, I therefore forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the T Son and of the Holy Spirit.

C Amen.

+ WORD +

CHILDREN’S MESSAGE “Filled by Jesus”

HYMN “Savior, When in Dust to Thee” (LSB 419)


P The Lord be with you.

C And also with you.


P Let us pray. Almighty and everlasting God, You despise nothing You have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent.

C Create in us new and contrite hearts that, lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, we may receive from You full pardon and forgiveness;

P through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

C Amen. 

P Let us pray. Heavenly Father, You sent Your Son into our time and space as a true man.

C Increase in us gratitude for the depth of Your love and the pain of His sacrifice, and renew in us joy in serving You and the people You give us to love;

P through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

C Amen.

EPISTLE 2 Corinthians 5:20b–6:10 

(Assured of salvation, the Christian can be reconciled to God and fellow brothers and sisters in Christ even while enduring physical hardship.)

We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. Working together with Him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.  For He says, “In a favorable time I listened to you,and in a day of salvation I have helped you.”

Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left;  through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

L This is the Word of the Lord.

C Thanks be to God.

GRADUAL Hebrews 2:2

P [O Come, let us fix our eyes on] Jesus,

C The founder and perfecter of our faith,

P who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame,

C and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

HOLY GOSPEL Matthew 6:1–6, 16–21 

(Our acts of piety, though quite physical, are to be private between us and God.)

P The Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew, the sixth chapter.

C Glory to You, O Lord.

P [Jesus said,] Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, 

C sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. 

P Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, 

C do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. 

P And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, 

C you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. 

P Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray,

C go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. 

P And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you fast, 

C do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. 

P Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, 

C anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. 

P And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

P This is the Gospel of the Lord.

C Praise to You, O Christ.

SERMON “A God Who Hungers”



P The Lord be with you.

C And also with you.


P Let us use the experiences of the man Jesus as we pray for ourselves, the Church around the world, and all people in their various circumstances.

A The man Jesus experienced severe hunger.

P For all who are denied basic food, clothing, or shelter, that God would provide whatever they need to support this body and life, let us pray to the Lord.

C Lord, have mercy.

A The man Jesus prayed for His circle of friends and those who believed in Him.

P For the Body of Christ around the world, that God would protect and guide clergy and lay leaders so that the Gospel may be proclaimed freely and many may come to faith, let us pray to the Lord.

C Lord, have mercy.

A The man Jesus was beaten, abused, and ridiculed.

P For all who are unjustly imprisoned, persecuted, and denied human rights, that God would strengthen them to remain strong under their circumstances until they find freedom, justice, and dignity, let us pray to the Lord.

C Lord, have mercy.

A The man Jesus was physically exposed on the cross.

P For all who try to hide their sins and failings, fearing God’s wrath and people’s scorn, that the Holy Spirit would grant them faith to know and trust the forgiveness Christ won for them, let us pray to the Lord.

C Lord, have mercy.

A The man Jesus cared for His human mother.

P For all parents and children, especially those in fractured families and those dealing with daily turmoil, that our heavenly Father would surround them with caring friends and counselors to renew the love that they have lost, let us pray to the Lord.

C Lord, have mercy.

A The man Jesus experienced thirst.

P For all whose lives are focused on relief from pain and suffering, from illness or addiction, [including . . .], that according to His gracious plans God would bring about healing, relief, and health to body and mind, let us pray to the Lord.

C Lord, have mercy.

A The man Jesus loved His followers to the end by serving even as their physical servant.

P For all who serve in homes and hospitals; all in armed forces deployed and in police, emergency, and fire departments at home; and all public servants in government, that God would protect, strengthen, and guide them for the good of the whole society, let us pray to the Lord.

C Lord, have mercy.

A The man Jesus bled and died.

P For all who understand Jesus only as a moral teacher or example of pious living, that the Holy Spirit would open their hearts to see that Jesus’ death is the reason He became man and to trust that in dying He did everything necessary for our salvation, let us pray to the Lord.

C Lord, have mercy.

A The man Jesus was buried.

P For all who fear death and all who are in mourning, that the Holy Spirit grant them faith to see the death of all who trust in Christ as a sleep from which they shall awaken, let us pray to the Lord.

C Lord, have mercy.

A The man Jesus physically rose triumphant over death.

P For all artists and musicians, poets and writers who express Christian hope and encourage our joyful celebrating, anticipating the day when faith gives way to sight, let us pray to the Lord.

C Lord, have mercy.

P Into Your hands, heavenly Father, we commend ourselves and all for whom we pray, trusting in Your mercy for the sake of Your Son and our Brother, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

C Amen.


P The peace of the Lord be with you all.

C And also with you.

We share the Lord’s peace with the words “Peace be with you,” acknowledging that we are at peace with all who come to the Table of the Lord.




P The Lord be with you.

C And also with you.

P Lift up your hearts.

C We lift them to the Lord.

P Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

C It is right to give Him thanks and praise.


P It is truly good, right, and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to You, holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who was born as one of us, suffered physical hunger, pain, and death in our place, and who by His obedience destroyed the power of sin, death, and the devil. Therefore with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven we laud and magnify Your glorious name, evermore praising You and saying: 

SANCTUS “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” (LSB 621, adapted)

Let all mortal flesh keep silence

And with fear and trembling stand;

Ponder nothing earthly-minded,

For with blessing in His hand

Christ our God to earth descending

Comes our homage to demand.

At His feet the six-winged seraph,

Cherubim with sleepless eye,

Veil their faces to the presence

As with ceaseless voice they cry:

“Holy, holy, holy, Lord of hosts!

Holy, holy, Lord Most High!”


P Blessed are You, O Lord our God, king of the universe, for You have had mercy on us and given Your only-begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

  In Your righteous judgment You condemned the sin of Adam and Eve, who ate the forbidden fruit, and You justly barred them and all their children from the tree of life. Yet, in Your great mercy, You promised salvation by a second Adam, Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. When He was tempted, He was obedient, refusing to eat in spite of His hunger. His cross is now a life-giving tree for all who trust in Him.

  We give thanks for the redemption You have prepared for us and ask that by the help of the Holy Spirit we may eat and drink Christ’s body and blood and receive the blessings of forgiveness, life, and salvation.

C Amen.

WORDS OF OUR LORD Matthew 26:26–28; Mark 14:22–24; Luke 22:19–20; 1 Corinthians 11:23–25


P As often as we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.

C Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

LORD’S PRAYER Matthew 6:9–13

AGNUS DEI “Not All the Blood of Beasts” (LSB 431)

DISTRIBUTION HYMNS “Feed Thy Children, God Most Holy” (LSB 774)

“What Wondrous Love Is This” (LSB 543)

POST-COMMUNION CANTICLE “O Living Bread from Heaven” (LSB 642)


P The Lord be with you.

C And also with you.

P Let us pray. O God, our heavenly Father, the giver of all we need to support this body and life and who sent Your only-begotten Son to become one of us, we give thanks that You have given us pardon and peace, nourishing our bodies, minds, and spirits through this Sacrament.

C By Your Holy Spirit, strengthen our faith that we may behold the man, our Lord Jesus Christ, at each reception of the Lord’s Supper and in every hearing of the blessed Gospel;

P through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit one God, now and forever.

C Amen.


P The blessing of God Almighty—the Father in eternity, the T Son, who entered time and space to redeem us from our sins, and the Holy Spirit, who works faith to trust in the man Jesus, that we may live with Him forever—be with you now and forever.

C Amen.

HYMN “Lord of All Hopefulness” (LSB 738)


Copyright © 2018 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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