When I was a microbiology student, I spent a lot of time looking at teeny tiny things through the lens of a big, clunky microscope. One of actions we had to take to bring those teeny things into view involved narrowing the field of vision – reducing the area of focus to increase your chances of seeing little microbiological somethingorothers. Sometimes, I was looking for single-celled organisms of mathematical beauty called diatoms. But most of the time, I was was looking at the kinds of creatures that wreak havoc with our digestive systems when we, well, ingest something previous egested , or when we, ahem, experience the consequences of an illicit bodily interaction someone. (My search histories for homework that semester required a lot of explaining.) In class, I spent a lot of time twiddling dials and turning knobs to focus on a tiny field of view. On the way from the lab to my car, I would spend a long time squinting and blinking to remind my not-as-good-as-they-once-were eyes what my normal field of vision was supposed to be.
Whatever field of vision Adam and Eve had in those first days in Eden, we can surmise from the description God gives that it was beautiful. And delicious. With all that modern agriculture has done to bring back so-called “artisanal” fruits and vegetables to our diets, can you imagine how fruits and vegetables grown directly by the hand of God must have tasted? And with the cost that modern farmers incur to bring these varieties to market (and then pass on to consumers, so that a pound of heirloom tomatoes can set you back $10), doesn’t the language of generosity that God employs to invite Adam and Eve to eat what He’s grown seem rich?
This lavishness is what makes Satan’s enticement of Eve all the more insidious, and her acquiescence more tragic. In a single, short conversation, Satan reorients Eve’s field of vision away from all to which God has given His generous “Yes”, and fixed it on the one thing to which He has said “No”. In a rapidly spiraling series of half truths, distortions and lies, Eve infuses the one thing she is denied with a universe of meaning. Her vision is now fatally fixed. She sees fulfillment in finite creation, instead of its infinite, divine Source. With Adam silent at her side, Eve takes Satan at his word, and for the first time, her eating brings death, instead of life.
Any of us who have ever fought an addiction, or just inordinate attachment to food or other creaturely pleasure, can easily recognize Eve’s battle in our own. Satan draws our eyes away from the incomparable riches of His grace, and onto what we don’t have, but suddenly crave with all of our being. Our marriage is crumbling, our kids are rebelling, our career is imploding, our ministry is dying, and suddenly a fridge, or a bottle, or a website, or a chat room, or a risky deal, is all we can see. It offers all that we think we lack.
We look away from God and toward what He’s made, we eat, and we die.
When I think of how often we rehearse Adam and Eve’s deathly ritual of disordered disordered eating in our daily life, I can’t help but marvel at how Jesus replaces it with one of life in His supper. In the giving of bread and wine, to His disciples in the upper room, and to His people whenever we meet together, Jesus does for His bride what Adam neglected to do for his. Jesus reminds us, with the bread and wine, and with His words, where true joy and fulfillment, and life, is to be found. In Communion, Jesus undoes the fatal distortions of Eden and refocuses our spiritual field of vision of food as a picture of our true life in Him, instead of death in our sin.
In Eden, Adam and Eve made food about themselves.
In His Supper, Jesus reminds us that food is about Him.