It started in the beginning. Before matter itself existed there was God – a trinitiarian entity in perfect harmony – completely satisfied in himself. God didn’t need anyone or anything to better his existence – everything he created was a gift to the created – sharing his awe and love with all things he breathed into existence.
God created all things, but all the living things were not his children. It was when he made Adam in his own image (Genesis 1:26) that humanity was born. Adam was formed by the hands of the creator of the universe, the first living thing on earth to have an eternal soul breathed into it.
Our bloodlines – regardless of our background or race – trace back to, and begin with God.
Adam + Eve
Adam and his wife Eve lived in a utopia in community with God, in a garden he had made for them. But as we all know, this story ended with a problem. It was a huge cliffhanger. It started with a simple command.
…“You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)
But the Serpent started to toy with Eve’s mind, and soon she made her first mistake.
(Genesis 3:1) [The Serpent] said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”
(Genesis 3:2) [Eve] said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 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.’”
This was the first time recorded in the Bible that mankind twisted God’s word by adding to it. God said not to eat of the fruit, yet Eve said that God had said not to eat of the tree, or touch it. See that little extra bit she slipped in there? Did Eve think God’s rules weren’t good enough, and perhaps she had a better idea of what the rule should have been?
I’ve always imagined at that moment the Serpent thought, “Oh, you think you’d make a better God do you? Got it. Well try this one on for size.”
The Serpent then presented Eve with an alternative to listening to God.
(Genesis 3:4-7) “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 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.
Now I’m no seminary grad, but to me this passage paints an interesting picture. At some point during this conversation with the snake, Adam showed up. And unfortunately, instead of defending his family and upholding God’s command by rebuking the Serpent, he says and does nothing to stop this exchange. Even more, he eats it too.
This fractured the harmonious, transparent, open community mankind had with God.
Spoiler alert, God found out. While talking through this issue, the first thing Adam does is blame both Eve and God by saying “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”. Eve then blames the Serpent – which is a little more fair than Adam’s excuses – but she was still responsible for her own actions.
There was a lot of finger-pointing going on in the garden that day.
God begins to make some changes. The first is a curse on the Serpent. The second is the first subtle mention of The Gospel. In bible-geek circles it’s known as the Protevangelium, which simply means first gospel or first good news.
God vows that one day, one of Eve’s offspring will crush the head of the Serpent.
Various curses are justifiably handed out to Adam and Eve,they’re kicked out of the Garden of Eden, and the rest is history. We’re still living in the wake of a fractured relationship with God today. We’re all born carrying the stain of sin on our souls.
Who would crush the head of the Serpent and restore mankind’s connection to God?
Born of a virgin, fulfilling many little hints dropped by prophets of God along the way, Jesus was the Son of God born a man. Fully God and fully Man, Jesus experienced the pains of human existence. Hunger, sorrow, pain, betrayal, hate, and every discomfort. Even though he was God, he humbled himself to our level to do what needed to be done.
Sin is a black and white concept to God because he is perfect. It has to be atoned for, there are no exceptions. If he is perfect, how can he allow sinful people into heaven? He couldn’t, that would be insane.
So we’re all screwed. Born with sin, living in sin, and unable to atone.
But Jesus came to un-screw up our screwed up situation. The method was simple. He had to be perfect on our behalf, become every past present and future sin essentially embodying darkness and corruption, to be extinguished by the just wrath of God.
A perfect man walks through life blessing people. He gets wrongly accused of being a heretic, and the torture begins. Though he was blameless, he endured the whips slicing open his skin. He endured the shame and embarrassment of being stripped naked to be paraded through the dusty streets like a freakshow. They even made him a crown of thorns to mock his claim that he was the son of God.
Can you imagine having dull wooden spikes pushed over your head? The thorns slowly piercing the skin on your scalp and scraping over the bone of your skull?
He endured it all. He carried his cross on his back after being tortured extensively. A trail of blameless blood was left in his wake as his body struggled to make it to the place he would soon die.
Finally, they pierced his hands and feet with large nails, breaking fragile bones and tearing through tendons. Yet in the midst of this pain, and having the complete ability to supernaturally kill or remove his torturers, he instead pleaded with God to forgive the people torturing him.
Hanging there on the cross, Jesus became you. He became me – he became all of the darkness of our pasts, presents, and futures. God the Father looking down on his perfect son, who was both Man and God, opened the floodgates of wrath on Jesus.
God’s justified wrath against centuries worth of sins and his knowledge of the sins all of us would commit in the future, was turned on Jesus.
He took the punishment for us. For those who believe in Jesus and his work on the cross, God’s wrath has been satisfied. The blood of Jesus was spilled to purify ours.
Three days after his death he came back to life, and with him he brought a blameless record for his children. Jesus took our sin and gave us his record of perfection. We’ve been wiped clean, no tiny speck or stain of sin to ever be returned.
Though the heel of Jesus was bruised on the cross, he rose again to crush the head of Satan.
This is the Gospel. We were broken, Jesus became broken for us. We are imperfect, he gave his perfection to us. As believers we have a renewed relationship with God, one that can be personal and intimate. One free of fear, and free of shame.