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Sermon - March 15, 2009 (Lent 3)

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Unscrambling an Egg

Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7

“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.” This nursery rhyme began actually as a riddle, asking the question: “what, once broken, can never be repaired, not even by strong or wise persons?” Regardless of how hard we try, a broken egg can never be put back together again; a scrambled egg can never be unscrambled.

There is a Humpty Dumpty story in the Bible. We call it the Fall. God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden to work the land and take care of it; in other words, to be a steward of God’s creation.  With that responsibility came the freedom to enjoy God’s provisions and unfettered fellowship. Adam was told that he was free to eat from any tree in the garden (including the tree of life) but not from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Fruit eaten from this tree would result in death.

The tree served to provide for Adam and Eve a genuine choice. They could choose to trust and obey God, or they could choose to disobey. Either way, they would demonstrate their own free will.  The tree was in no way a temptation from God. James 1 tells us It is important to note that God allowed fruit from the tree of life to be eaten because God’s intention was for Adam and Eve to live forever.

Enter in Satan clothed as a serpent. There is a reason that Satan is known as the father of lies, the great deceiver (Jn8:44).  Watch how the serpent interacts with Eve, and changes the course of human history. The serpent speaks only twice but his speech is cunning, calculated and powerfully manipulative. First he questions what God said “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?”’ Now we know that is not what God said. What he said was “you are free to eat from any tree except the tree of good and evil.” When Eve answers the serpent, listen to what she says, “we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘you must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”  Eve adds to God’s words and thereby makes God’s command more restrictive; distorting his directive and demonstrating that the serpent’s subtle challenge was working its poison.

Second, Satan contradicts what God said. “You will surely not die.” This of course is a blatant denial of what God himself had said to Adam. God’s exact words, “for when you eat of it you will surely die.”

The serpent continues, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Again Satan gives a half truth. Their eyes were opened, to be sure, but the result was quite different from what the serpent had promised. By gaining knowledge, they lost their innocence. They realized they were naked. Their problem however was not nakedness but that their innocence was shattered, deformed and turned into fear.

Through the serpent’s scheme of spinning the truth into half-truth, the seeds of doubt took root and bore fruit. Adam and Eve chose to listen to the creature rather than to God the creator, impression rather than instruction, self-fulfillment rather than divine purpose, independence rather than interdependence, pride rather than humility. One minute, they were able not to sin; the next minute, they were not able not to sin. Sin changes trust into fear, innocence into shame. It takes us farther than we want to go, costs us more than we want to pay, and holds us longer than we want to stay.

If one football player jumps offside, the whole team is penalized. So it is with sin. Because one man, Adam, sinned, the whole human race is penalized; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). And make no mistake, the responsibility is our own, not simply the serpent’s.  God gave Adam and Eve the freedom to obey or disobey, and they chose to disobey. The serpent was the tempter but the decision made was Adam and Eve’s. They have no one to blame for their decision but themselves but they each try to pass the blame. If you read ahead in Genesis 3 you will see that Adam blames Eve and Eve blames the serpent. Neither takes responsibility for their own actions. We humans are like that; when we do something wrong we always want to lay the blame on someone else. We often say jokingly, “The devil made me do it.” My friends “the devil made me do it” doesn’t cut it. No one can make you do anything but you. We may be tempted but we have the freedom to say “yes” or “no” to the temptation. If we give into the temptation whatever it may be, we do so on our own volition.

The tree was in no way a temptation from God. James 1 tells us “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.” God gave freedom of choice to Adam because of his love for him. True love cannot be forced, it has to be freely given - there has to be choice. God could have treated Adam like a puppet on a string, but such was God’s love that he allowed Adam to make his own choices knowing all along that the wrong choice might be made. 

We still have that freedom of choice today. Once given God did not take it from us and so sin continues in the world. God allows us to make our own choices even when those choices may not be the best for us.

We are constantly faced with temptations every day. We have the chose to say yes or no to these temptations; to obey God or not to obey God. We are faced with temptations of selfishness; pride; lust; temptations to be our own God; to write our own rules; to live according to our own desires. Satan, the father of lies is still lying to us.

Just as all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again, we as humans cannot put together our broken relationship with God. Sin caused a gap between us and God. But amidst our broken relationship caused by sin, we can rejoice that there is someone who can bridge our gap with God. That someone is Jesus Christ. God knew from the moment that Adam and Eve chose to disobey him that all humankind was in trouble. There was nothing we could do to help ourselves and get free from our sin – the egg was broken. But God could help us and he did by coming to us in Jesus Christ. God has such an incredible love for us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. God did not want to see us die in our sins so he gave us the gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ. Jesus died so we might have life and have it more abundantly; he paid the price for our sin so we could be forgiven. Jesus bridges that gap caused by sin between us and God through his death on the cross.  Jesus becomes our way to God – Jesus said “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn 14:6).

One day sin will be no more, one day the broken egg of our world and lives will be repaired. Unscrambling the egg won’t happen until Christ returns. But the process can start, now, in your life.

God knows what is best for us but we need to trust him in that. God knew what was best for Adam and Eve that is why he told them not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for God knew what the results would be if they did. The problem was that Adam did not trust that God knew what was best. Adam gave up paradise in the pursuit of something he thought was better than what he had – the knowledge of good and evil. He gave up God’s blessings for a lie.

We too need to trust that God knows what is best for us. God loves us so much! He wants the best for us. That is why he sent Jesus to free us from the clutches of sin.  But we need to trust him. We need to trust that he loves us and wants what is best for us. We need to trust that he knows what will bring us blessings and what will bring us grief. We can choose to obey Him or we can choose to disobey. We can choose God’s way or we can choose our way. God’s way leads to life and life everlasting, our way leads to heart ache, sorrow and ultimately to death.

The Saviour who at Lent is walking to the cross, is willing to walk with you through life – strengthening you for the journey and helping you to make the right choices. We need to trust that God knows what is best for us. As the old hymnist wrote: Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey. Amen.

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