If you’re not familiar with Sweet Porridge, I recommend clicking here to read the story before proceeding to my commentary.
Ah, sweet porridge. It can be said that all the problems and remedies of life find their root in food. Do you have it or not? To have food for the day is to be content (1 Timothy 6:8). When it comes to earthly provisions, what more are we to desire? Like Agur, son of Jakeh, the Christian says to God, “give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.” (Proverbs 30:8-9) Every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer this is what we’re saying: “give us this day our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11) “Cook little pot, cook.” That’s what this story is about, right? The cooking of a little pot. The giving of daily bread – sweet porridge. It’s about our daily needs being provided for, as the “poor but good little girl who lived alone with her mother… no longer had anything to eat” and yet she was given daily bread in the form of sweet porridge, and she was given it miraculously and often – her daily bread turned out to be a gift given abundantly.
This calls to mind the words of 2 Corinthians 9:8-10, “And God is able to make grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, ‘He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.’ He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.” (Emphasis mine) You see, “the poor but good [read faith-filled] little girl” received her daily bread, which was distributed to her freely and multiplied, becoming a blessing for more than just her and her mother.
…her mother said, ‘Cook, little pot, cook.” And it did cook and she ate till she was satisfied, and then she wanted the pot to stop cooking, but did not know the word. So it went on cooking and the porridge rose over the edge, and still it cooked on until the kitchen and whole house were full, and then the next house, and then the whole street, just as if it wanted to satisfy the hunger of the whole world…
What a remarkable story! A food that spreads “as if it wanted to satisfy the hunger of the whole world.” A food that spreads according to a familiar pattern: house, the next house, and then the whole street.
What was it that Jesus said to the disciples at the beginning of Acts? Oh yes, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem (house), and in all Judea and Samaria (next house), and to the end of the earth (whole street).” (Acts 1:8) This sweet porridge spreads as if it wants to satisfy the hunger of the whole world. May I suggest that we see this as the Word of God spreading across the whole world by the power of the Holy Spirit (despite our sin – witting and unwitting attempts to stop it) in order to satisfy the spiritual hunger of a world in the midst of a great famine, a world in desperate need of receiving God’s grace through the means by which He gives it: His Word, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper?
All the problems and remedies of life find their root in whether or not one has food – the nourishment necessary to grow and live. This is a reoccurring theme in Scripture, a theme that leaps off the pages of holy writ and into the mouth of the person kneeling at the altar rail. Keep in mind that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matt. 4:4).
As the sweet porridge of God’s Word spreads throughout the world it is consumed by hungry hearts (Jeremiah 3:15; Ezekiel 3:1-3) and swallowing mouths in the Lord’s Supper. Jesus told the disciples that the Holy Spirit would come upon them and they would be His witnesses in the house (Jerusalem), and in the next house (Judea and Samaria), and then the whole street (the end of the earth) as the porridge (Gospel) spread. We see what that looks like after the Holy Spirit comes. “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread [or shall we say the scooping of porridge?] and the prayers (Acts 2:42).
The world has become a place covered by Christ, the Word of God, the sweet porridge that freed the poor little girl and her mother from their poverty and hunger, the Gospel truth that sets us free from sin, saves us from death, and gives us eternal life. In the days of the Grimm brothers and, yes, even today, despite our attempts to stop it, Christianity abounds. It has truly covered the whole world in sweet porridge. It’s in the nooks and crannies of how people think and believe. A person does not have to believe in Christ to live in this world, but should he try to return the world to a pre-Christian state, he couldn’t just stroll back to town, to a worldview void of God’s Word. No, like the Grimm tale tells us, “whoever wished to return to the town had to eat his way back.”
The little pot has cooked and the only thing a person can do is eat. We can eat as often as we choose, till we are satisfied (Matt. 14:20), receiving the blessings of such a sweet porridge, or we can eat in an effort to rid the world of true food, to bring about a famine. But to do so one must dine on the truth of Christ. Either way, He will be consumed. He has come into the world. There is no undoing that. The little pot has cooked.
The above is a broad approach to the story of Sweet Porridge. For a narrow handling of the story the interested reader may wish to study the succulent parallels between this tale and the historical happening that occurred between Elijah and the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:8-16).
Next week’s Finding Truth in The Story will be on The Young Giant. Click here to read the fairy tale in advance.
I’m reading the fairly tales from the Fall River Press publication, Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales illustrated by Arthur Rackham. Click here to purchase a copy for yourself.
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