Midweek Advent 1 – Genesis 3:1-21
Every few years or so, there is a hot new toy that everyone wants and that normally ends up being impossible to find. When I was growing up, the hot toy was the Cabbage Patch Doll. In the 1990’s, the hot toy was Tickle Me Elmo. This year? Well, time will tell what toy everyone is demanding.
Needless to say if you had asked most any child if they wanted a Cabbage Patch Doll or a Tickle Me Elmo, or even today, if you ask most people if they want the latest iPhone or the newest video game, the answer will be a resounding yes!, without any hesitation or qualification.
Its genius on the part of the stores really: they come up with an amazing product, keep production low and the price high, and then stand back and watch as customers trample over themselves for the desired new toy at the grossly inflated price.
But what did those boys and girls, or teens and tweens, or even adults do to deserve the item they so deeply desire? What gifts do you rightly deserve to receive this Christmas?
The common question at this time of year is: have you been good? The answer? Well, let’s just say Santa must not have a very good long term memory; or at the very least does not see and hear nearly as much as the song claims.
The reality is that you have not been good; in fact you have been bad; very bad; very very bad. As St. Paul says, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God; and the wages of sin is death. And that means no Cabbage Patch Doll, no Tickle Me Elmo, no iPhone, no nothing for you, just the punishment that you truly deserve: eternal death and hell.
But what if someone came up to you and offered you a way out? What if they looked at what you did and said while it’s not good, we can fix this, we can make things better. What if they asked you: Do you want a Savior?
Because that is exactly what happens in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve sin; they break the one rule that God gave to them. God clearly says: Do not eat of the fruit of that tree. Adam and Eve understood this command, they knew what the rules were. And yet, they both eat of the fruit of the forbidden tree.
There is no second guessing here; the law and the punishment are clear. They sinned, they should die. The Hebrew is a little nuanced here, in that when God says they will die what He really means is that they will begin the process of dying, which is our lot in life today. No matter how young and healthy you are, the reality is your dying.
But the truth is Adam and Eve’s crime does not deserve the slow decaying process of old age, rather they deserve the earth opening up and swallowing them whole right there in the middle of the Garden of Eden; they deserve the hellfire and brimstone sent upon Sodom and Gomorrah; they deserve a lightning bolt striking them dead in an instant.
Adam and Eve are fully aware of this; that is why they hide. They know they screwed up; they know they deserve the full wrath of God poured out upon them; they know that there is no means for escaping the punishment they rightly deserve.
And yet, God looks around at what they have done, and He asks Adam and Eve: Do you want a Savior?
The options are certain death and eternal separation from God, or a Savior. The choice is that you can pay the ultimate price right now for the wrong you have done; or someone else can pay the price for you.
What do you think Adam and Eve said?
Or maybe the better question is what would you say?
Adam and Eve broke one command and are staring down the barrel of God’s full wrath and anger; you have broken a lot more than one command; how much greater should your punishment be? How much greater is the anger of God now directed at you?
The true gift of Christmas is found all the way back here in Genesis 3: Adam and Eve fell into sin thus ushering death into the world, and by the sin of one man, Adam, all have now sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.
And yet, just as the firing squad is about to fire, God says Do you want a Savior? And Adam and Eve, and you yourself, give a most resounding yes!, without any hesitation or qualification.
Now the details are sketchy to say the least here in Genesis 3 as to what the Savior will look like, when He will come, and how exactly salvation will present itself, but for right now, that does not matter. What matters is that God offered you a lifeline, He offered you a means out of the hole you dug yourself into, He offered you a reprieve from the death and hell you rightly deserve; He offered you a Savior, and you said Yes!
Now you might be wondering when you said yes to a Savior, and the answer is no, you were not specifically asked to accept Jesus into your heart to be your Savior. Rather Christ kicked down the door of your cold, dead heart and planted the mark of salvation upon you.
But each time you remember your baptism; each time you confess your sins, each time you come forward to receive the body and blood of Christ, you are saying yes, you want a Savior; yes, you need a Savior; yes, a thousand times yes is your response to the offer of a Savior.
And on Christmas, that request is fulfilled. Here is your Savior. This is what you wanted, this is what you get, this is how God undoes the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, for by one man sin came into the world, so also through one man does life come into the world.