Feasting with God #27
A Banquet in Paradise
Text: Genesis 2:15-17
15The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17but 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.”
Can you picture what life was like in the garden of Eden? It’s difficult to do so, because we have to put it into terms we understand. Adam and Eve “worked” the garden. When we think of work, we think of hours clocking in and out, toiling and laboring to make a buck. Perhaps we enjoy our jobs, but there are still bad days when we come home exhausted and sore and dread having to go back the next morning. Many people enjoy gardening, working the ground, getting dirt under their fingernails, being in nature. But even so, mosquitoes bite, the hard ground makes our knees sore, the sun burns our skin. The garden work in Eden was without any of this exhaustion or soreness. That’s hard to picture.
A life without hunger and thirst is hard to picture as well. Adam and Eve surely never felt hunger pains before the Fall, never were so parched that their lips cracked. Why would they have the need to eat, then?
God gave our first parents the run of the garden, telling them, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden.” The world was new! Adam was experiencing this paradise with the eyes of a newborn. Imagine how those colors must have struck him, how beautiful! Think of his other senses: all the sounds of the birds and beasts, of the rivers that came through the garden, the wind blowing through the trees! All the sensations against his hands, of cool water, warm sunlight, soft animal fur and flower petals, smooth stone! All the smells, of mud, of flowers and fruits! He of course would be curious to experience God’s world with all his senses, including the sense of taste.
Imagine tasting an apple for the first time, an orange, a pomegranate, a strawberry. Adam could explore this home, tasting every part of the banquet God provided for him. His life would be filled with discovery and rediscovery, never growing tired of the task, never struggling to satisfy a hunger he never felt, never growing uncomfortable because of the food he ate.
God never meant for us to feel hunger-pains. But the boundary he set—“of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat”—was broken by Adam and Eve. Therefore the result of their trespass broke in—“in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Death has entered God’s perfect world, because of sin. Therefore all God’s creation is corrupt. The creatures who once lived in peace now hunt and kill one another. The water that bubbled softly through the rivers to irrigate the garden now floods and drowns. The food that was once a source only of enjoyment and discovery and fellowship now becomes a necessity for staving off death, sometimes causes stomachache, and is never quite enough, for all men die.
By corrupting the gift God gave man of food and eating, mankind has corrupted all of God’s gifts. But thanks be to God that he did not abandon us to our fate; instead he immediately began working restoration. In his Son, Jesus, he took all the corruption of the world onto himself and paid the price for our trespass, “redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13). To provide for us the blessings of that payment, among other things (the Word, Baptism), Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, a fellowship meal of his true body and blood that feeds our souls for eternity. With it also comes the promise of a new paradise in heaven, which is frequently referred to as a great banquet (Luke 14:7-24).
Dear Lord, we have corrupted all the gifts you have given us, and we have brought death and sin into your perfect world. But despite our wrongdoing, you have provided a way for us to receive new blessings once again, in the work of your Son, Jesus Christ. Lead us to an ever firmer faith in that Son, and feed us always on the great blessings of your Word and Sacraments, until we may come into the new banquet in paradise with you for all eternity. In the name of that Jesus we pray. Amen.
Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.