From the Beginning

tree in garden of eden

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)

“…through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22)

I’ve found that the Genesis story of Adam and Eve is fascinating in many regards. But one particularly interesting dimension of the story is that it tells us about the first distancing that occurs in humankind’s relationship with God.

This is not a trivial theological matter. This is the story of humankind’s first break from God. Doubt enters in. And humans no longer commune with God as they once did.

According to the ancient narrative, God has instructed Adam and Eve not to eat from a certain tree in the garden. It is for their benefit. The tree, whatever it was or represents, was beyond their capacity to handle. It would kill them. Yet Satan tempts Adam and Eve to eat of the tree and they do so.

How does Satan do this? How does the separation between God and humans begin?

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It’s interesting to note that the way in which Satan deceives Adam and Eve is by implying that God is not good. God’s instructions to avoid the tree are simple and brief. Yet the tree is complex and mysterious and neither Adam, Eve, nor we today, fully understand its meaning.

Satan uses God’s simple explanation (even God’s silence about the tree, we might say) to argue that God has lied to Adam and Eve, that God is hiding something good from them, and that the tree is indeed fit for eating.

So the way in which Satan causes separation between Adam, Eve, and God, is by planting the idea that God is not good, that God cannot be trusted.

I’ve heard that before but I never realized the significance of it until I became ill.

What happened in the Garden is the same thing that happens to us today.

Whenever we face something unexplained (a modern day version of the mysterious tree, such as our own illness or suffering) we are tempted with the idea that God is not good. Without answers, I am prone to doubt him.

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In light of all of this, I find it particularly interesting that on the cross Jesus cries, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)

The author and theologian, Brennan Manning, points out that this is essentially a statement of trust. And what a statement of trust!

On the cross, Jesus is not only being tortured to death, but according to orthodox Christian belief, he is about to descend into hell to face the punishment of all of humankind’s sin. We cannot even grasp that level of suffering.

Jesus believes that somehow he is in the Father’s merciful hands, in spite of journeying into death and crushing darkness. This was, no doubt, the greatest trust ever placed in God.

It’s often said in Christian belief, that Jesus came to live the life that we did not. He stands in our place as a perfect offering. From him we learn to trust. And even when our own trust in God fails us, he has already trusted for us.