(Incomplete, preaching notes)
If a boy wants sex, all he has to do is tell a girl he loves her and then dote upon her for a while. If she won’t have sex with him, he threatens to remove his affection and find someone who will. It is crazy how often this works. Not all the girls who fall for this are stupid either . Many of them are desperate. They want to be loved and they think this is the only way they will be. They want attention so badly they will take it any way they can get it. And if they get pregnant, that is good, too, because those babies will love them. Throw in government incentive to have dad out of the house and you’ve got the recipe for social chaos and the disaster of modern America.
The teenage girls aren’t very sophisticated, but they aren’t really that different from us. We might hide it better or act out in ways that are less costly, less obvious, but the reality is we are all desperate for love, for attention. If this wasn’t the case, it wouldn’t matter to us when people told lies about us. What do we care what people think? Why are we concerned for our reputations? Because we want to be loved.
In this sinful world, love and acceptance, a safe place, is not certain. Human beings fail. They cheat. They betray. They lie. No marriage gets off easy. No mother ever gets from her babies what they owe her. No father was ever perfect. All human relationships are tenuous. We’ve all had our hearts broken. Repent. You’ve been looking in the wrong places.
Consider the 4000 who had followed the Lord for three days out into the desert. Prior to Adam’s selfishness, no one would have fainted on his way home. All the trees were there for food. But Adam has succumbed and dragged us down with him. There – gathered about Jesus – there were no trees, just grass, not suitable for human consumption. The people had nothing to eat. And, no doubt, the grass was interwined with thorns and thistles, hostile, at its very core, to humanity – its oppressor and the cause of its sorrow.
But the Lord takes the food produced out of the sweat of men’s brows, seven loaves, and blesses it. This is not manna from heaven. This is bread from wheat gathered, threshed, ground, mixed, and baked. This is bread from labor. The Lord overturns the curse. He feeds them with bread of the new creation: freely available, without toil. They do not gather it. The labor is transformed and it is brought to them. Nor do they need to squander or count or plan for the future. They eat without fear, as much as they want, until they are satisfied.
In this world, it may be it was only bread. It got them home, but no further. They got hungry again. But that was not really the point. The Lord’s compassion goes beyond the immediate. He is moved to action by their plight – not just that they are hungry there in the desert but that they are ever hungry, that all the good trees, full of fruit, and given to Adam have been destroyed by sin.
So He undoes the curse of food by food. Once men were undone by eating from a tree. Now the Lord will give Himself on a tree that He would be fruit that undoes the curse, that ends captivity and prison, that restores life and immortality, that men would be ree to be loved and to love. He gives Himself, hidden in bread made by the sweat of men’s brows, that men would be in fellowship once again with Him and His Father and the Spirit, that they would find acceptance and forgiveness, that they would find a family and a future. Once men sinned and ate and died. Now men who have sinned are invited to eat and life, to eat away their own sins, to eat their way back to God.
So the Lord provides in the desert and sees the crowd safely home. They not only return where they have come from He offers them a true home, a place where they’ve never been before. Three days is a nice start, but He wants them for eternity, in the paradise, gathered about the Tree of life.
Here is love that will not fail, that will not use you. Here is love that will endure. The love that has given its life on the cross and taken it up again to be with you. He sees your pain. He has compassion. He offers balm through food, through His Holy Body and His precious Blood. He undoes the curse.