pecaspers: a Blog in transition

April 19, 2014

Gardens, Trees, Falling, and Rising

Filed under: Ministry,My Life in General,Tallassee Tribune drafts — pecaspers @ 9:10 PM

[The following was submitted to The Tallassee Tribune as a contributed article from the Tallassee Ministerial Alliance. An edited version will appear in the April 22 edition of the paper.]

In Genesis 3, the story of the fall of man is told. It’s the history of how the first man and woman broke God’s single, simple command and the curses that came to all creation because of their rebellion. It’s a story that takes place in a garden, involves a tree, and ends with people leaving a place they should have stayed. As a result of our first parents’ disobedience, shame and fear caused them to feebly attempt to hide their nakedness and hide from God. This original sin which we are all heirs to brought separation between humanity and God.

In the aftermath, God gives both curses and blessings. The earth is cursed with thistles and thorns, making man’s work a struggle against the land. Man must now sweat for his bread. The man and all his kind will die and be buried, returning to the earth from which he was made. The woman will now suffer great pain in childbearing, and she will be under the stress of filling a role of submission with a heart-desire to rule over her husband. The man and woman must also leave the garden behind.

The serpent was cursed too, but a promise of future blessing came with its curse. God said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel,” (Genesis 3:15, ESV). This is what Biblical scholars call the proto-evangelion, the first-gospel. Here, so close to the beginning, we are given the promise that a man would come, the offspring of a woman, who would destroy the serpent though he would also be struck himself. Throughout the Old Testament, the details about this promised one are sketched out in types, shadows, forerunners, and foretellings–individuals and events that pointed to the One who would overcome the power of sin and death.

God blessed the man and woman he had created to bear His image by not destroying them outright as their sin deserved. They certainly died spiritually that day, but God mercifully spared their physical lives for it still pleased Him to work His good plan through them. God also clothed them; He made adequate coverings for their bodies from the skins of animals. Again this points to the way of things with God, blood was shed to cover man’s sin.

And so we come to the celebration of Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, or Easter as it’s popularly called. Jesus was a man born of, in earthly terms, only a woman; he was outside the line of inheritance for Adam’s sin yet still the offspring of woman. The ancient serpent Satan struck him a mighty blow, it seemed at first. In a garden, this man who was the “bread of life” sweat drops of blood in anguish as he struggled in prayer over the things only He knew were about to come. This son of woman willingly submitted himself to the hands of ungodly rulers to endure pain greater than childbirth. Jesus, blameless as He was, took a punishment he did not deserve and forgave those who tortured and killed Him. He wore a crown of thorns on His righteous head, thorns which grew from the ground He had cursed because of sin. His clothes were striped from him; much of his own skin was stripped from him, too. He was shamefully hung naked on a cross, on a tree re-shaped for one cruel purpose. He died on that tree, and his lifeless body was taken down and placed in a tomb.

And in all this, he undid the curse. We began in a garden, and Jesus’ tomb was in another garden. A tomb is where a dead person is supposed to stay, but Jesus left His garden tomb behind. The great great turn around of history had begun. What looked like the end turned out to be a set up for a new beginning.

Because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, we who are naturally born sinful sons and daughters of Adam and Eve can be supernaturally reborn sons and daughters of God. Because Jesus overcame death and the grave, we can know that death is not our end but have hope for the coming resurrection to eternal life. Because Jesus lived as one of us and remained sinless, we can hope to sin less and less as we live by the same Holy Spirit that was in Him. Because Jesus bore our guilt and shame on the cross, we have no reason to hide in fear from God, instead we can run to Him as our loving Father who has been anticipating our return.

The cross of Christ undoes the fall of man for all who will have it and all its glorious ramifications. This is what Easter Sunday is about. This is what every Sunday is about. This is what every moment of every day is supposed to be about. Is this what you are about? Let’s be about sharing this message until He comes again.

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