Date: 9 Apr 2023
Speaker: Ps Luwin Wong Interpreter: Rev Daniel Ho (Mt Gerizim BPC)
Sermon Text: Genesis 3:1-24
It might not be obvious from the Bunny Rabbits and the Chocolate eggs, but at the heart of the Easter event is a resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus Christ. The message of Easter is that Jesus Christ is the risen Lord. Christians say it’s good news. We say that the reality of Jesus’ resurrection is good news for the world, even for you and I today.
You might say, well, 2000 years ago, some guy in the middle east came back to life again, good for him. What has that got to do with me? Even if it was a genuine miracle, how is it relevant to me today?
The reason that resurrection of Jesus Christ matters to you today, is because I believe that good and evil matters to you, suffering matters to you, and death matters to you. If neither evil nor suffering nor death matters to you, then fine, Easter will mean very little, apart from a holiday and some chocolates. But they do, if these things, evil and suffering and death are significant to you, then what Christianity as to say, about how easter changes everything.
There’s a problem with the World
Now, you don’t have to be religious to notice that there is something wrong with the world.
Children in some countries are struggling with starvation, children in others are struggling with obesity. Human greed has resulted in the exploitation and pollution of the earth and the degradation of fellow human beings. Human pride has resulted in countless wars and countless more deaths. Human prejudice has resulted in slavery and racial injustice. Human lust has resulted in sex trafficking and child pornography. And if it isn’t human on human violence, there are tsunamis and earthquakes and tornados and all sorts of other natural disasters wreaking havoc all over the world at any given moment in time.
So we look at this and we say, “This world is messed up. There’s something wrong with this world”.
Which is a strange thing to say, because, well, how do we know? I mean, you get a coke at Macdonald’s, and you take a sip and you say, “there’s something wrong with this coke.“ It’s a bit to flat or too sweet or whatever, and you can say that, because you drank coke before, and you know how it’s supposed to taste.
You come across a dog purring instead of barking and you go, “what’s wrong with this dog?” Because you know dogs, they’re not supposed to purr like cats. Dogs bark.
So when we say, there’s something wrong with this world, the question becomes, “how do you know?” What makes you say that? What other human world have you come across? How do you know this isn’t exactly how the world is meant to be? How do you know that a better version of reality is even possible?
Your response might be, well, I might not know why I think there’s something wrong with the world. But it’s clear there’s something wrong with it, and if you can’t see it, if you think this is the best that it can be, then there’s something wrong with you. Which is a reasonable response. Some things are just self-evident, It’s truth is so obvious, you don’t need further explanation.
The Christian worldview concurs with this conclusion. We believe that there is something seriously wrong with the world. And we go a step further, we also explain why this is the case.
The reason we intuitively recognise that this world isn’t what it can be, or even what it ought to be, is because we’re right. The world was meant to be good. It was created good.
There’s a reason for it
So how did something so good, become so bad?
Genesis 3:1-24 tells us why. It is an account of the most significant turning point in all of human history. The point where things went downhill. And nothing thereafter is the way its meant to be.
Gen 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. 8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
I would like us to notice three things from this passage.
1. The Temptation – knowing Good and Evil.
In a perfect world, declared very good, sin entered the garden of Eden. In the form of a snake, a snake with an offer. An offer for human beings to become gods.
” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.
It was a lie. But it is a lie that still are by tempted by, and still believe in today.
What do I mean? If you have ever raised a toddler, chances are, at some point, you would have said something like this: “You don’t get to decide what’s right and wrong, I’ll tell you what’s right and what’s wrong. You listen to me, and that’s the best thing to do.”
Because kids, they don’t know better, do they? You live them to run their own lives, they’ll eat pringles and gummy bears and Macdonald’s every meal. They’ll never go do their homework and they’ll take their eyes off the ipad.
They don’t know better. They literally don’t know what’s good for them, what’s a right way and a what’s wrong way to live. They lack wisdom, they lack perspective, they lack understanding. So we guide them, we teach them, we tell them to not trust their own instincts, trust us; listen to us instead. As parents, we know better, we know what’s good and what’s bad for them. What’s a right way and what’s wrong way for them to live.
It's like that with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. God wants them to listen to him, because he knows better. He doesn’t just know better. He’s literally the only one who knows how best to live in this world, because he created it. All of it.
The knowledge of good and evil is the preserve of God. It’s his domain.
The offer of the snake is this: eat of this forbidden fruit. Disregard what God says is right and wrong. Disobey him and decide for yourselves what’s good and evil. Become like gods yourselves.
We today can identify with Adam and Eve, can’t we? Don’t we also want to live lives our own way, on our own terms, without any higher authority imposing their morality on us? Isn’t that one central gripe against religion? “I don’t need an ancient book with outdated views on sexuality and gender to teach me how to live. I’ll decide for myself, thank you very much.”
Were we in the Garden, instead of Adam and Eve that day the snake popped by for a visit, chances are, we would have taken the fruit and ate of it too.
2. The Consequence – guilt and shame
And then what happens? And then, the eyes of Adam and Eve and they saw for the first time, the true nature of good and evil. No, that’s not what the text reads. They were deceived. Here’s what happened.
7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. 8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
What’s happening here? What’s happening is the experience of guilt and shame.
Their entire lives they had no covering and they were fine. Now all of a sudden, their nakedness was a problem. And their instinct was to cover up and hide. Friends, this has less to do about being naked, than it is about being seen.
It’s a tragically common temptation to cover up and hide ourselves even when while we’re standing naked before our spouse. There are parts of us we are afraid to show them, not physical parts, parts of our soul – the shadows of our heart, the mistakes of our past, the shame of our actions, the perversity of our thoughts.
We want to cover them up. Because it is not an easy thing to face the truth ourselves. So we use filters on Instagram, so our friends won’t see the spots on our skin, we embellish our resumes, so our prospective employers will think better of us, and we drink ourselves drunk to drown out that pesky voice of conscience speaking the truth about ourselves.
But we know. When we wake up in the middle of the night at 3am, we know. There is a guilt we carry, there is a shame within, there is a fear of being seen.
With disobedience to God comes guilt and shame. An awareness that something is wrong with us.
3. The Sentence – suffering and death.
But guilt and shame is merely the consequence, its not the punishment.
Here’s the punishment.
14 The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15 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.” 16 To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.” 17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” 20 The man called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. 22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.
For the women, it’s labour pain. What was once purely life-giving and and joyous is now tinged with tears and pain.
For the man, it’s painful labour. The earth, created very good, is now cursed. And harvesting food from this cursed earth will no longer be easy. Instead of life-giving, work will be draining. If you want rice, wheat, you have you plant them painstakingly, backbreakingly, but then weeds will appear unannounced, uninvited, unwanted, just naturally.
And not just that. There is death as well.
22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever – 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.
Death is final nail in coffin, so to speak. Death, which though is so natural, is so feared. Mankind throughout history has been devoted to the enterprise of keeping death at bay. From the ancient quest for the elixir of life, to the modern medical industry, we sought to keep death away – preventing illnesses, curing viruses, prolonging life.
And the reason we find death to be an evil, is because we were made to live forever. That is our natural state. Death is not the original intention for mankind. It is a punishment for sin.
And we experience the effects of suffering and death even today.
There’s a solution in Jesus
So, something is deeply wrong with the world, something is painfully wrong with ourselves, and death is a reminder that all of us are complicit in the problem, we are not the solution to it.
How does Easter help? What does Easter have to do with all this?
14 The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15 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.”
Hear the curse of the serpent.
The punishment for the snake, ultimately, is death. Who will kill him? An offspring of a woman. A son. The serpent will bite his heel, but he will trample the serpents head.
The serpent represents evil. This means that there will come someone someday, who will have the power to defeat evil once and for all. To kill evil, eradicate the serpent from this world.
Who might that someone be?
We believe he is Jesus Christ, which is why we call him the Saviour.
Jesus was born a man, in a manner of speaking, an offspring of Eve. But unlike Adam, a man who desired to become god through his obedience, Jesus was God, who willing became a man through obedience.
Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phil 2:5-8)
Jesus resisted Adam’s temptation to seize glory through sin. Jesus never sinned. In so doing, he proves to be the opposite of Adam, a different race of man.
But surprisingly, he suffered the same fate, the same punishment of Adam – suffering and death. He died shameful, painful, death on the cross.
Why? Because he was guilty? Yes and no. He himself never sinned, but on the cross, the bible says, he took the sin of the world upon himself. He carried your sin, he carried my sin. And died for it, in guilt and shame. For the punishment of sin is death.
And if Jesus remained dead, it would mean the curse of sin remains intact. It remains in force, nothing has changed.
But the good news of Easter is that he rose again. Evidence that the curse has been broken, the punishment of sin has been taken, forgiveness for sinners is now offered, a world without the serpent is now possible.
And that is exactly how the bible ends. With a vision of a world where is no sin, and therefore in this world there no hunger, no pain, no sorrow, no tears, no death anymore. And those who are in that new world bear no guilt, no condemnation, and no shame, because their slate has been wiped clean, their guilty stains have been washed away, so that when God surveys this new world and sees us in it, his verdict will once again, be “good, very good.”
And in the centre of his world which we call heaven, stands Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.
Rev 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” 5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.
Jesus Christ is making all things news, he is willing and able to renew even you. So come to him, and drink of the spring of the water of life without payment. Come to Jesus in repentance and faith and share in his resurrection. Come and begin to live into a world where God is your father, and you his son and daughter.