ASKING FOR BREAD AND GETTING STONES
 
“If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone?  Or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?   Or if he ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?   If ye then being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?” (Luke 11:11-13)
 
In the passage cited above, our Lord drew attention to the three most elementary yearnings of man, namely hunger, thirst and hope.   To die of starvation or thirst is to experience the most terrifying, excruciating agony of body and mind.   To be in this condition and ask a father for bread…only to be rewarded with a stone, is cruel beyond measure.   To substitute a venomous serpent for a fish, would be appalling.   Could it be possible that a son would ask an egg of his father and be offered a stinging scorpion instead?   These are the most natural requests and the most improbable answers possible.   And yet it is in the light of these comparisons that the Father offers the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.
 
Of course it’s not likely for any father to offer his son stones when he seeks for bread.   However, not all hunger is satisfied by eating.   There are spiritual cravings that cannot be appeased by food at all.   The hunger and thirst of the soul for spiritual satisfaction is very real.   The longing hope to be able to begin life over again is not foreign to any of us.   What are we giving or offering men to meet these very real spiritual cravings?
 
Suppose a man starts out in life with high ideals, but a weak will.  He succumbs to temptation and seeks to satisfy his hunger with the vain foibles of this world.   He indulges in pleasure until its “broken cistern” no longer satisfies him.   He aspires for wealth and power, but somehow happiness eludes him.   He seeks peace through travel, but is disillusioned.   At last, he wonders if the church can help him and gropes his way into it asking for bread, where he has heard they offer the Bread of Life.   Now, it is true that Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life.”   He does satisfy the hunger of the soul.   But suppose the seeking man is told to join the church and try to do better; or perhaps he is instructed to engage in some worthy Cause; he may be asked to conform to various rules.   Or it’s possible that he may even be greeted with some bruising treatment that hurts his personality and wounds his pride such as: strong condemnation for his conduct.   He asked for Bread, but got stones instead.   He leaves the place bruised and angry and resolves to stay away, if that’s all they have to offer.
 
Next to bread, the most universal food is fish.   The meal prepared by our resurrected Lord for the weary disciples was bread and fish.   Suppose the disciples discovered a serpent instead!   In the Bible, serpents invariably were poisonous.   Always they were shunned.   The fish and the serpent were at opposite ends of desirability.   The fish was welcomed, but the serpent was repugnant and dangerous.   The fish satisfied a need, but the serpent was a peril.
 
I wonder how often people have come to satisfy their natural cravings by asking for that which could be classified as fish, and they are offered liquor instead.   Liquor is called a deadly serpent “whose end stingeth like an adder.”   Once bitten, the effects go on until they are either delivered or die.   Some people offer drugs to compensate for spiritual hunger.   Some churches turn their evening services into bingo gatherings.   There, they seek satisfaction for their spiritual needs, but gambling serpent is all they receive.  Or could it be possible that someone is seeking to satisfy his cravings by asking for a fish, and instead we place before him a sexy movie to stimulate the very thing he is seeking to master.   The result is comparable to giving a serpent for it is destructive and painfully inadequate to meet the need.   Serpents are disguised in many ways, but always deadly in their effects.   When people symbolically ask for a fish, let us be sure we give them a legitimate satisfaction to answer need.   Food is food, but spoiled food is poison.    We would not give anyone a serpent, but we could be giving something just as destructive and just as harmful.   Let us heed the Master.
 
Let’s consider the egg as compared with the scorpion.   The egg is one of the most universal foods in the world.   It is a delicacy and a staple in every land.   But the egg must be fresh to be relished.  A bad egg or a rotten egg is very abhorrent.   A fresh egg set under a brooding hen or in an incubator will soon lose its appeal to the appetite.   In fact, the inside of the egg will become almost vile and repulsive.   But wait!  Something is going on.   There’s new life and hope taking place in this corruption inside the prison walls of its shell.   In three weeks the shell begins to crack and break and there emerges a brand new loveable fluffy chick that is ready to begin a new life.
 
Many people have lives like the egg.   They started out fresh and clean.   Then the world surrounded them with temptations that brought about loss of ideals and character.   The heart becomes as corrupt and decomposed as the egg in the incubator.   Inside that heart there comes a longing for deliverance with the hope of beginning again.   It is said that within every heart, there is a person seeking to be released---the person you would like to be.   That’s the whole lesson that Jesus is trying to portray.   There’s hope.   Inside every one of us there’s a longing to break the prison we’re in and be free to start all over again.   That’s what is meant by being born AGAIN.
 
Incredible as it may be to ask, do we offer such prisoners of hope only a scorpion?   A woman has made a failure out of life and she is classed as one of the “down and outs.”   Where can she find hope and recovery?  She has heard of the church although she is far from being acquainted with it.   She dresses in her best attire, makes herself as attractive as she can and cautiously steals into the back row of the local house of God.   What does she hear?   Does she listen to something akin to the egg with its message of hope for beginning again all fresh and new?   Or does she hear a tirade of condemnation on dress and frills.   Does she feel lashed by critical denunciation and stung by censure or is the message offering an egg---hope of a new life.  Will she leave the church smarting with recriminations and reproach for the castigation she heard, or will she have a new lilt in her voice, a new spring in her step and a new sparkle in her eyes as well as a new hope in her soul.   If all we offer is scorpion-like disapproval, we may feel a righteous justification of ourselves, but we will help no one back to God.   We will never make the gospel attractive as a place to be healed and cleansed.
 
The background of these alternatives is placed in the bold relief of the relationship of unbelieving fathers catering to the normal requests of their sons.   No father, just on the human level, would give his hungry son stones for bread, serpents for fish or scorpions for an egg.   It would be inconceivable.   Now Jesus caps it all by saying, HOW MUCH MORE will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those that ask Him.  “Jesus breaks every fetter.”  Admission is free---only believe and obey.   It is not a matter of how bad you are or how good you are, but of how willing you are.   Whosoever will, may come.  God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH on Him shall have ever-lasting LIFE.   Those who come to Christ and accept Him have discovered the land of beginning again---except a man be born again.   Jesus Christ offers you satisfaction for your spiritual hunger and thirst, and the HOPE of the life that now is as well as the life to come.   He offers the abundant life, and eternal life.




 

 

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