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Lenten Series #6: Our Death

Today we pick up in Genesis 3:11-23:


“And [God] said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”


The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”


To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”


To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’

“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.

By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken, for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living. The Lord God made garments of skin for them and clothed them.

And the Lord God said, “The humans have now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. They must not be allowed to reach out their hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the Lord God banished them from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which they had been taken.


Here is what we must understand about God’s monologue in Genesis 3 – it is not so much a prescription as a prediction. God is not assigning brokenness to creation but simply laying out the impact of the brokenness the humans chose. And the damage is extensive.


Now all relationships are not marked by tov me’od but rather by sin, shame and suppression.


Humans cut themselves off from their own innocence, casting it into their shadow. They cut God off fearing there to be in him something over than love. The relationship between humanity and creation is also now marked by suspicion, and instead of a relationship of mutual cultivation they exist in a relationship of mutual suppression. Finally, human relationships (and I would add all relationships to some degree) are now marked by a hierarchical power dynamic. Everywhere we go the questions pervades, “Who among us is the greatest?”


“Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you.”


First, we have to acknowledge that this verse is about gender power dynamics. Men have ruled over, suppressed, raped and taken from women since Eden. Woman has become lesser, man has become normal. Personally this is why I abhor gender exclusive language or why I commit myself to a church which ordains and values women’s voice. I believe exclusion of women is rooted in sin and when we support, even passively this hierarchical structure we are agreeing with the results of sin rather than seeking redemption.

I also believe this verse is about the masculine and feminine qualities in us all. The masculine is desired and the feminine is ruled over, suppressed and allowed only in certain contexts and dosages. At the very least, what is considered masculine is valued and rewarded and what is considered feminine is not or at least told to “dress up” a little more masculine. So what we are left with and what is offered to us as acceptable is simply toxic masculinity or benign femininity.


I could go on and on and so could you telling story after story of broken relationships, where you see the effects of Genesis 3 in full bloom. And we could continue to examine our lives and culture seeing all the ways Genesis 3 relationships have become the norm, and this certainly has value. But we also need hope, we need to know that life may still grow out of our contaminated soil.


“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.

It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.

By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken;

from dust you came and to dust you will return.”


Hidden in God’s final predictions are an invitation – from dust you came, to dust you will return. It is the invitation we started with, the invitation Lent rests upon. The ground from which God formed us is now cursed, and yet he invites us to come back to it. What was true in Genesis 1 and 2 is true in Genesis 3 and today – life is found when we return to the dust.

Jesus, the second ha’adam, the earthen God, said it this way, “If any of you desire to find me you must take up your cross daily and follow me. For whoever will save his life with lose it, but whoever will lose his life for my sake will find it.”


Here lies the invitation of Lent, Holy Week and Easter – life comes through death, no exceptions. Fruitful trees only grow from dead seeds, so all we have is the ground in front of us.


This Sunday we begin the journey to the cross. Jesus will be unjustly accused, convicted and beaten. He’ll be crucified on a cross as an example of what happens when who try to live out true humanity. You’ll be tempted to turn back from your pain, from the struggle, from the tension. You’ll want to shout hosanna on Palm Sunday and hallelujah on Easter and cover your eyes as you pass the burial of Good Friday. But what if life doesn’t always look like life? What if what you’ve been calling life has really been fear wrapped in body armor of shame?


“So the Lord God banished [them] from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which [they] had been taken.”


Next week we will continue our journey to the cross and the tomb in search of the ground from which we came. We will not fix our eyes on Easter but the grave, because this is the journey Christ himself is on and he has much to teach us. You won’t need to seek resurrection, only Jesus, only to be with him in his death, because new life is the natural progression of things that die.


Let us learn together this week what it means to die. Will you join me?


In the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit.


Amen.


P.S. I will Be posting daily (I hope) during Holy Week. I’m excited for the journey. Be sure to follow to receive an email notification when I post! If this continues to impact you, share with a friend!