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God Provides Food to Eat - Genesis 2:7-17; Mark 8:1-9 - The Seventh Sunday after Trinity

[Genesis 2:7-17] Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. 8 And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9 And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

10 A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold.12 And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there.13 The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. 14 And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

The Lord Provides Food to Eat

When God created man, the first thing God did for man was provide for him. God created man in God’s own image – distinct from the animals – from the dust of the earth. God breathed life into man, making him a living creature with distinct, God-like characteristics – reason, creativity, the ability to recognize beauty, the ability of speaking and using language, the capacity to love – God gifted this lump of dust with things only God can do.

God made man and then immediately made man a home – a garden to tend to. God provided man with all the food to eat. God provided man with the companionship of the animals. And God provided man with woman. When God made the first man and woman, he made a husband and a wife. Two who are one flesh.

God blessed them with the gift of multiplication – “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.”

This is all given to man just by virtue of being created. Man does nothing for it – these are not merited rewards or things earned. God is simply generous, abundantly so.

And God gave man more. God gave man righteousness and holiness as a gift – the ability to know and keep a command of God. God gave man life eternal. God put in the middle of man’s home the tree of life.

And God, as a gift, put in man’s home that tree from which man was not to eat – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The commandment – “you shall not eat of it” – serves the gift of faith. Man worshiped God by believing – trusting by faith – that God’s commandment was good.

In his belief that God’s Word, God’s command, was good, man sought his life from the tree God commanded him to eat from – the tree of life – and man faithfully did not seek his abundance from the tree of which God commanded him not to eat – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. “God’s Word is true. God is good and trustworthy. Though that tree seem desirable, God’s Word and command will give me what is truly good and abundant.”

The righteousness and holiness of Adam and Eve was that they lived by what God’s hand had provided and trusted by faith that God’s Word is true and good. Until they didn’t. The fall into sin was a fall away from this faith.

Eve and Adam – who had been made in God’s image and likeness as a free gift – sought to “become like God” by breaking God’s command. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil “seemed good for food and desirable to make wise – and the enemy told them, “You’ll be like God.” [Genesis 3:1-24]

Adam and Eve had already been made with food and wisdom and righteousness and goodness and with the image and likeness of God – already – all as a gift – all received from God’s hand. In the fall into sin, they seek to gain, on their own terms, what God has already given.

“I’m a strong provider.” “I provide.” “I pull myself up by the bootstraps.” “It’s Me!” “I figure it out for myself. I’m wise.” “Forgiveness? No. I do it right on my own. I take responsibility” (so we say). “Me.” “Why do I have an abundance? Because I’ve worked hard for everything I have. It’s me.”

All words of proud, sin-fallen man. “Food, wisdom, righteousness – I do that.”

The truth is that these words leave you starving, empty, shamefully unclean in sins – these words leave you dead. Eve and Adam’s eyes were opened – opened to see their own nakedness and shame. They were cast from the garden. Food would now be a battle to attain by the sweat of man’s brow (That’s from the curse.) Fruitfulness and multiplying would now come by pain. And now they would die – no tree of life – and return to the dust.

Man and woman fell from righteousness and fell from God’s image. But, once again, God promises to provide. “I will provide one of your own offspring – the seed of the woman – to crush the serpent’s head. His heal will be pierced, but the enemy’s head will be crushed. I will provide your salvation.” [Genesis 3:15]

In today’s Gospel, in the starving wilderness, that offspring – the Savior, Jesus – is found providing food for His people, abundantly so: In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, 2 “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. 3 And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” 4 And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” 5 And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” 6 And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. 7 And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them. 8 And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. 9 And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. [Mark 8:1-9]

With Jesus, the wilderness becomes the garden. The needed food is provided.

Jesus is the offspring of the woman – born of the virgin Mary – and is the Son of God. Through His Son, God the Father is man’s provider – even provider of eternal things: The forgiveness of sins and life everlasting.

The miracle of bread in the wilderness points us to Jesus as the true Bread of Life in the wilderness of sin and in the desolation of death. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes (faith) in me shall never thirst.” [John 6:35]

In this current wilderness of being fallen sinners, the cross of Jesus is your tree of life. His death for you on the tree is your bread – consumed by faith – which forgives your sins and gives you eternal life.

Your Baptism is your river of living waters, always refreshing you. His Word – the Scriptures, read and preached to you – and His Supper given to you – are food in the garden. God provides food to eat.

By His death for your sins on the cross – and by His life-giving resurrection from the dead – Jesus has become to you “wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification (holiness) and redemption” [1 Corinthians 1:30]. All that was lost in the garden, God has provided to you in life’s current wilderness – and forever – in and through the cross of Jesus Christ His Son.

Thanks be to God, brothers and sisters. It doesn’t depend on “Me”, “Me”, and “Me” for any of us. Instead, it is “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” – it is God-for-me-in-Jesus – who pulls us up and provides for all we need. Amen.

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