Proper 5 • Genesis 3:8–15 • June 10, 2012
By Robert Hoehner
Found By Grace
This Old Testament lesson tells the familiar story about an increasingly unfamiliar but significantly serious matter—a matter of eternal life or death. Adam and Eve were trying to hide from God. They were hiding from God because they were afraid. And if God had not searched for them and found them, Adam and Eve would have been forever lost in sin and doomed to eternal death.
The account of the fall into sin is a familiar one. When Adam and Eve chose to listen to the lies of Satan and eat fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thereby doing what God had commanded them not to do, guilt and shame came into their lives. No longer were they comfortable in God’s presence. When they realized that God was in the garden, they hid from him. It is important to note that God did not run from them; they ran from God (and Satan went with them).
God could have started over, but he didn’t. He approached the couple in hiding and asked three rhetorical questions, giving them opportunity to confess.
Adam and Eve offered the first excuses in the history of the world, but unfortunately they were not the last. People have learned all too well from their sinful parents. We too are fond of making excuses. We too are pretty good at ducking responsibility and accountability. We too can be guilty of blaming others. The sad thing is that none of these reactions to sin is a solution to sin. We simply stay lost…hopelessly lost.
God is not the one who is lost. We are! And this is a serious matter! There are many today who downplay the seriousness of sin. But, in his word, God makes it clear that every sin offends him; every sin leads to death. It is time that we take off the mild label by which many refer to sin and put back the “poison” label, which in fact sin is. It is poison. It wrecks our life on earth. It destroys our life for eternity.
But God would not allow sin to have the final word. He intervened in grace with a solution to sin and its eternal consequences. And just as he reached out to Adam and Eve, so he reaches out to you and to me.
Like Adam and Eve, we have been found by God’s grace. In baptism, he calls us by name. In baptism, God confronts the seriousness of sin. In baptism, his Spirit gives us faith, forgiveness, and life. All of this is in keeping with his precious promise in the garden.
It was there that God vowed to put enmity between Satan and the woman. God quickly demonstrated that he was in control. Almost as soon as sin entered the world, God revealed his plan to take sin away. He promised to send a savior to destroy the devil’s work.
When God sent Jesus, the seed of the woman, Satan did not give up. He worked even harder, as the gospels make clear. On Good Friday, the devil endured his final defeat. The battle that began with a tree in the Garden of Eden ended with a tree on Calvary. The serpent struck at Jesus’s heel, and Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46). But then in his dying breath he declared, “It is finished” (Jn 19:30), and crushed Satan forever.
At the right time—in God’s time—his first promise found fulfillment. Jesus proved to be the solution to sin and death. He offered himself as the atoning sacrifice, taking the sins of Adam and Eve and every human being to the cross. There he suffered the eternal consequence of our sins, paying the price in full for all of us.
This gospel promise teaches us to run to God rather than run from him. Whether we are tempted to take sin lightly or be crushed by guilt and shame, God invites us to come to him and receive his love and his peace—not the wrath that we deserve. God kept his promise to Adam and Eve, and he will keep the promises he has made to us. God is faithful! He finds us by grace and gives us eternal life through his Son.