Saturday, August 01, 2009

B, Pentecost 9 Proper 13 - John 6:29 "Eat your Cake and have it too!"

The desire to have something can be so strong. So much so it can cause all sorts of emotions to occur, even physical reactions or mental torment.

Have you ever been shopping for groceries when you're hungry? Have you ever seen a fast food ad on television when you're starving? You can almost taste the herbs and spices in your mouth.

The eyes sharpen the mind, the desire intensifies, you want it and you want it now. Food glorious hot food — chips, burgers, chicken, awwwwwh! Your stomach churns with delight.

Perhaps every time you drive past the car yard, the motorcycle centre, the Ag machinery business, the clothes shop, or the shoe store, your mind is filled with visions of sitting high in the seat of a shiny new machine, the best in the district. Or you picture yourself stepping out in style with those new shoes or the latest outfit similar to what the movie stars are wearing these days.

As you salivate over these things from afar, your mind plots and your heart beats quicker, as you scheme how to make the imagination a reality.

Or you see that person. The blood rushes! You become sweaty, desperately seeking their attention! The angst of separation causes unbelievable pain. You want them, but for whatever reason you can't have them! You lie on your bed at night and romance fills your heart, you toss to and fro without satisfaction.

You fanaticise over them; perhaps even let your mind become x-rated; you can get no satisfaction. The fantasy only increases the desire, you burn with passion, and the pain is almost too much to bear.

What we want, but for one reason or another cannot get, plays on our mind. Have you ever noticed sometimes that the less chance we have of getting it, the more we want it. The intense yearning debilitates our whole being — mind, body, and spirit.

These strong feelings and desires make us do all kinds of things with our minds, our mouths and our movements. From children throwing tantrums before their parents, to teenagers manipulating things to suit themselves, to God's adult children growing more and more materialistic and self-centred, it's all the same thing in God's eyes.

King David burned with desire over someone he shouldn't have been obsessing over. In fact, he should never have let himself be in this position to do what he did.

As the saying goes, "Idle hands are the devil's playground." And so while David should have been leading his armies in battle out in the field, he hangs about Jerusalem not doing much.

He gets off his bed, probably aroused, but if not soon finds himself that way as he leers over Bathsheba, fanaticising over her beauty and her nakedness.

Instead of using his power to lead his fighting men, he misuses his authority and takes Bathsheba, another man's wife into his bed. The sin cannot be concealed when Bathsheba falls pregnant. And so David summons the husband, Uriah, and tries to cover his sin, but it doesn't work. So finally he resorts to ordering Uriah's murder to cover his guilt.

Nathan, the prophet of God, goes to see David, and feeds him a story which surely takes David in. This is a story about a poor man who loves a lamb but when the rich neighbour has visitors, butchers the poor man's solitary lamb instead of preparing one of the many lambs he owns. David burns with anger against the rich man. But God had set David up, and Nathan says…

"You are the man! You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. …Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.' …"Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight." …Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the Lord." (2 Samuel 12:7, 9, 10, 11, 13)

David had free choice, but like us all who have free choice, the consequences are never free and so beginning with the death of the child he and Bathsheba conceived, his whole family begins to unravel. And the ripple effect takes its toll on his family's kingship and on every member of the kingdom of Israel.

Have you ever heard of the saying, "You can't eat your cake and have it too."? David's desire led him to eat his cake of desire, when he should never have had it in the first place. He ate his cake in secret, but it soon soured in the belly.

The unravelling of David's kingdom continued with a repetition of similar sorts when David's son, Amnon, fell in love with his half sister, David's daughter, Tamar. His desire led him to deviously set up a situation where they would be alone in his bedroom. She is sent to him with bread as Amnon is apparently not well. But once alone with Amnon he seeks to seduce her, but on her refusal he rapes her.

After Amnon had his fill, he treated Tamar as trash. After such great desire and yearning for her, he ate his cake of desire and he no longer had it. His desire turned to contempt and hatred.

These are the results of David's desire. They all came out of David's delusion on that evening when he mused about Bathsheba; and also resulted from the consequences of Amnon pining over his sister. This is all followed up with retribution as Absalom, Tamar's full brother, kills Amnon, and then pits himself against his father, King David, for the kingdom of Israel. In the sight of all Israel he takes the concubines of his father into his bed.

Who would have known a twitch in David's sexual desire would have led to this tangled mess of death and destruction? We are always free to choose! But the other half is choice always has consequences that are never free. It's why deception is a deception; because our desires delude and deceive us into overlooking the other half of the free choice reality.

Have you ever noticed that after coveting the new car, the new clothes, or whatever it is you just have to have? That on receiving it, it looses its sheen extremely quick! The new tractor breaks down, the shoes and clothes date and end up living in the back of the closet. The consequences never really seem a reality when we're in the midst of desire.

What about those food ads on television, or going to the supermarket after you've had a big meal? The smells don't have the same effect as when you're hungry. The burgers might be better, but you can't even bear to look at them! You can't eat your cake and have it too!

Or more to the point, "you can't satisfy your desires and have the desires too!" The feelings of wanting disappear the moment you devour what you've desired. But then the mirage of desire soon pops up somewhere else, ready to deceive us all over again.

In the gospel of John chapter six, Jesus tells us, "Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval." (John 6:27)

Food that endures to eternal life! This food is unusual! We eat it, yet we still have it. It's the food which satisfies, really satisfies with lasting effect. This food is unlike the food we craving one moment then reject once we've had our fill. This is the food that gives us the sense of joy, but once eaten the sense of joy goes on and on and on. This is the food once eaten we still have it. You can eat this cake, and have it too!

So what must we do to eat and have this cake that endures to eternal life? The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent. (John 6:29) God calls you to taste and see that the Lord is good. Open your hearts and let God fill you with satisfaction that lasts into eternity. Jesus really satisfies!

So, what must we do to get the food that endures to eternal life: Believe that Jesus is the Bread of Life! He is the food of life; he is the bread of eternal satisfaction.

Jesus is the cake. Come and eat, you can eat this cake and have it too. Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the person who takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing. (Ps 34:8-9) Amen.