Speaker: Rev. Doug de Graffenried
Scripture Passage: Genesis 3:1-10
The text for the morning’s message is the first reading you will do, I hope, this week in your Jesus readings. the readings explain, this week, the need for Jesus. Why do we need a savior? Our lesson is from Genesis, the third chapter. And I’m going to read verses one through eleven.
Now, the Serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, Did God say you shall not eat of any tree in the garden?
The woman 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’s in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die. But the Serpent said to the woman, you will not die for, God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be open, and you will be like God knowing good and evil. So, when the woman saw the tree was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes and 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. Then the eyes of both were open and they knew that they were naked, and they sewed Fig leaves together to make loin for themselves.
They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the time of the evening breeze and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, where are you? He said, I heard the sound of you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked. And I hid myself.
Friends, this is the word of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God. Amen.
It was about 20 years ago now, we were doing a building project in Lake Charles, building a space like this for that church. And for a while, the worship service, the contemporary worship service found itself in the sanctuary of first Methodist Church, Lake Charles. the Sanctuary at first Methodist Church Lake Charles is a hand bell ringers dream. It is a live room. It has slate floors. It has a balcony. That’s a horseshoe shaped balcony that has wooden floors in the balcony and has wooden theater seats. Wooden theater seats from the 1920s. wooden theater seats from the 1920s that are about this wide. I don’t see. Something has happened to us since the twenties. It was one of those sanctuaries you could hear a pin drop and depending on where it was dropped, you could hear it roll all the way to the front of the church. Kids would whisper in the back, and I would hear every word they said. That’s where this takes place in a contemporary worship service that’s moved to the sanctuary. I’m reading Matthew 25, to the congregation. Matthew 25 is where Jesus separates the sheep from the goats.
And their surprise, and they say, wait a minute, Lord, how did how did we how did we do these good things for you? And Jesus said you. You saw me hungry and gave me bread. You saw me thirsty and gave me a drink. You saw me sick and in prison and you visited me. You saw me naked, and you clothed me. Well, that’s the passage I’m reading, Matthew, 25, and I get to the word “and you saw me naked, and you clothed me”, Leighton Burkested, who is sitting on this side of me right in my, I can almost see him. Leighton was eight years old and when I got to the word naked, Leighton said, Preacher said naked. He said naked. And you see the whole Berkested family, descend on late and try to get their hand over his mouth, shut him up. Leighton talked back to my sermons. He would interact, and I knew that I had to say that word naked three more times in that scripture reference. And every time the word naked came out, my hands went over to Leighton even when I finished. Grandpa, he said naked. everybody in the church heard every word late and said everybody in the church giggled. They giggled when I said the word of God for the people of God. They giggled when I tried to introduce the sermon. They giggled and I realized this sermon is dead on arrival. I might as well go to the benediction, which is what I did, because the congregation was distracted.
And that’s what happens when we read Genesis three. We get distracted. first thing we want to know, who’s the serpent? Well, I know who the Serpent is. The Serpent is Satan has to be Satan. Wrong! Probably not. Well, who is the serpent? Well, I start a Bible study in here on Sunday night, January 16th in a couple of weeks, and we’ll deal with who the Serpent is. Solve that distraction. Which fruit is it? I want to know what. What kind of fruit is it? Everybody says it was an apple. I wouldn’t be tempted by an apple now, a peach. I might be tempted by peach. Yeah, I could see a peach. Why does the church say it’s an apple? It’s a distraction, and that’s how we come to this passage of scripture, we get distracted. We want to know what the real sin was. Come on, preacher, tell me what the real sin. It couldn’t have been here at an apple. Surely that wouldn’t of getting them thrown out of the Garden of Eden. While we’re supposed to go to the produce section of the grocery store. We’re supposed to preacher. It had something to do with Adam and Eve being naked, didn’t it? No, see. You have to know your crowd, yes, you know, your crowd.
So, what happened in the Garden of Eden? And we get distracted and we go “It doesn’t matter, happened a long time ago.” What I want to say is the Garden of Eden is a mess that Adam and Eve made for themselves. And they made for us. You can say that Genesis three is teleological; that Genesis three explains to us why sometimes life is so crummy. It explains to us why some things don’t work out for us. It explains heartache.
It explains sin.
So, I want to look at Genesis three. I’m going to look at it hermeneutically, homiletically, and with a certain amount of shenanigans. And you will know when I get to the shenanigans because you’re going to read this tomorrow, and I just want you to read it with a question mark. I want you to read and ask, God, what is it I’m reading here? Now, we all know. We all know. Everybody in this room knows that it’s Eve’s fault. Absolutely, without a doubt, Serpent’s more crafty animal God created.
And we’re told that Eve is right there in the garden, and it’s with Eve that the Serpent has the conversation and it’s Eve that takes the fruit and it’s Eve that eats. And it’s Eve’s fault, right? In the second chapter of Genesis, the Bible says the Lord God took the man. He took the man because the woman is not around yet. He took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to till it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man. You may freely eat of every tree in the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day you eat of it, you shall die, the Hebrews says in the day you eat of it dying, you shall surely die. You can’t get any more dead than dying. You shall surely die. Eve is not around when Adam gets the instructions from God about this tree. And I know I know that there was a conversation between Adam and Eve about the tree Because of how Eve talks to the serpent. The woman said to the Serpent, we may eater the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, you shall not eat the fruit of the tree that’s in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die. Did God say anything about touching that tree? No, that’s a husband telling his wife to stay out of his shop. Baby don’t go in my shop. You will be in a lot of trouble if you do this. That is a husband telling the wife, stay away and the husband added to it. Hmm.
So, Eve took and ate.
One of the great preachers of a bygone era said the story of Adam and Eve amounted to being the story of a chick that didn’t know a line when she heard one and a guy that didn’t know how to keep his mouth shut. They sinned. They sinned. The eyes of both of them were open and they knew they were naked. What happened in the Garden of Eden impacts us in ways we may not fully and richly understand, but they’re listed for us when God confronts Adam and Eve with what they’ve done. and as God lays this out, it sort of explains a lot of things. to the woman He says I will greatly increase your pains and childbearing and in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he will rule over you. That is hinting to us that our relationships are about to go to heck. That is much as we want to have the perfect relationship with another human being, there are power balances that don’t equal out. There are relationships that aren’t healthy, that aren’t normal. There are going to be desires that are going to play into relationships that aren’t healthy and aren’t normal.
Even our relationship with God is fractured and broken. I like particularly that part that your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you. Guys we’re going to do a test right now. OK, men, shake your hands out. I need you men. Put your hands together like this. Just put them together like this. Be relaxed however you put them together like this. You got them put together and I looked down at your hands. If your left thumb is over your right thumb, you rule your household. If you’re right, thumb is over your left thumb, you lie about who rules your household. You’re looking now. Yeah, but that’s the dynamics that’s created. our relationships because of the fall, because of what Adam and Eve did. Our relationships are now imperfect. Our relationships are broken. We have a broken relationship with creation. and to the man, he said, because you have listened to the voice of your wife and you’ve eaten of the tree, which I commanded, you shall not eat. Cursed is the ground because of you in toil, you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Earlier, he had told the man that I’m putting you in the garden to till it and keep it. everything in the garden prior to the fall, just it was glorious. It was… Adam worked, and Eve worked, and their work brought them pleasure and their work brought them food, and their work brought fulfillment to them because there were no weeds. But after the fall, even creation changes its direction, and now, rather than working, man must toil. He must labor. And the labor does not bring joy, and the labor does not bring fulfillment very often. the labor just brings heartache and more toil.
The house I bought. Some well-meaning person, 40 years ago planted Wisteria. And Wisteria, is glorious as long as you keep it under the rule and reign of a chainsaw, you cannot let Wisteria get higher than this. You have to watch Wisteria. Well, they didn’t. And for 40 years, the wisteria has grown wild. I have wisteria up in the trees. I have wisteria roots because I’ve seen them five feet under the ground. I have wisteria roots that try to pop up in the middle of my driveway because that’s what Wisteria is. It’s an invasive, glorious, beautiful plant that ought to be eradicated. It’s like a crepe myrtle. You ever tried to get rid of a crape myrtle? You can’t do it. I don’t see why the LSU AG Center is worried about crepe murdering. Just go ahead and cut them. It won’t hurt them. They’re going to be there forever because our creations out of balance. Why do we go through COVID? because our creations out of balance. Why aren’t we being good stewards of our world because our creation and our relationship to the creations out of balance and God told Adam and Eve, look, as a result of sin, that’s one of the things that’s going to happen. Our serenity and peace, our serenity and peace is pretty much out of balance.
By the sweat of your face you, shall eat Bread and return to the ground for out of it You were taken. You’re dust and to dust you shall return. The sweat of your face is not the sweat that you have when you’re working out at the gym. It’s the sweat you have when you’re anxious, when you’re really worried. the things that were supposed to be bringing you peace, the things that are supposed to bring you serenity will now cause you anxiety. and then our immortality. Our immortality has been ruined in the fall. God reminded them your dirt and to dust, you shall return. Sandy Richter said that the ones that were made to rule the culpable Earth now become fertilizer for it. That’s how this has changed. This situation has just Been ruined. And Adam and Eve, The Bible tells us that the first thing they knew, the eyes of both of them were open and what did they get for eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, violating the word of God in the command of God?
They knew that they were naked. and they sowed Fig leaves together for loincloths, for themselves over a fig tree in the backyard of the house. I don’t recommend making loincloths out of fig leaves, their scratchy and itchy and very uncomfortable. So here are Adam and Eve, all scratchy and itchy and uncomfortable. The first experience they had as a result of having their eyes open is they felt shame and, we’re about to learn, they felt afraid.
Shame is the feeling that you’re unworthy. These were the children of God, first generation children of God. And they feel unworthy. And then we find out they’re going to be afraid; they hear the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden and the time of evening breeze. And the man and the wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord and God says, where are you? And Adam says, I heard the sound of you in the garden. I was afraid because I was naked, and I hid myself. And here comes the first ever comedic line in the scripture. And who told you you were naked, Bubba? How did you figure this out? Have you eaten of the fruit I told you not to eat of? And then it goes into a three Stooges routine. Mo slaps Curly, Mo slaps Larry, Larry slaps Curly and Curly turns around with nobody to slap. and those are the passages we just read where God says the serpent. You’re going to crawl on your belly and to the woman you two serpents and women are not going to get along. And we’ve just read that part. But what is been introduced into our world Is sin. Sin. We don’t talk much about sin in the church. Karl Menninger wrote a book entitled Whatever Became of Sin and Menninger’s thesis was we just we call it something else. We don’t talk about the biblical concept of sin, about estrangement from God and estrangement from one another. Liberal theology teaches that that sin is not really saying it’s just poor self-esteem. that if you give people enough education, if you feed them, if you lift them up financially out of their condition, if you give them second chance or rehabilitation, they won’t sin anymore because they will have good self-esteem. Conservative theology teaches that sin is a moral failure, and all you need to do is quit failing morally. you just need to live a better life and you need to work harder living a better life, and everybody can live a better life. And what those two ideas have in common is the notion that you can, through strength or through willpower, do something about sin. But that’s not what the Bible says. The Bible says that for Adam and Eve, it was the choice. for the rest of it. For the rest of us, it’s a condition.
Paul, put it this way. I can will what is right. I can know in my mind what is right and what all to do. I can, will it? But he says, I can’t do it. For I do not do the good that I want to do, but the evil I don’t want to do. That’s what I do. Now, if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but it is sin that dwells within me. For I delight in the law of God in my innermost being, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. The bible says You are a slave to sin. It’s in your human nature. That explains every two-year-old that’s ever been. And why you can tell them no. And the thing you just said, no to is what they go do. It is their sinful nature.
Paul goes on and he tells the Galatians this. He says, Live by the spirit, don’t gratify the flesh. for what the flesh desires, as opposed to the spirit. what the spirit desires, is opposed to the flesh for those who are opposed to each other to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you’re led by the spirit, you’re not subject to the law. now the works of the flesh are obvious fornication and purity licentiousness, Adobe idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions factions in the drunkenness, carousing and these. And I’m warning you, as I warned you before, those who do such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But by contrast, the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Just as you cannot in yourself generate the gifts and fruit of the spirit, you cannot will yourself not to Sin. We have a problem. We need a savior. Paul told the Corinthians. For our sake, God made Jesus to become sin Who knew no sin, so that in Jesus, we might become the righteousness Of God. Yes, there is sin in the Garden of Eden, it’s where it all started, but that’s also where Grace started because even as God is about to chunk them out of the Garden of Eden, the scripture tells us, and the Lord God made garments of skin for the man and for his wife And God clothed them. God covered their shame. God covered their fear. God’s grace was there in the garden. And we know that there’s a third tree in the garden. There’s the tree of the fruit of knowledge, good and evil. Stay away from that. There’s the tree of Life, which God didn’t say anything about until after they sin. The third Tree is hinted at, and it’s the tree that Jesus dies on. On Calvary. And Jesus comes out of the tomb on Easter Sunday. And where is he? He’s in a garden. And Jesus, on the evening of his resurrection, is walking with two disciples on the road to Emmaus. It’s like everything that was undone in the Garden of Eden is redone in the life, The death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. You see, Jesus was shameless. He spent his ministry with sinners. He didn’t judge them. He didn’t condemn them. He just loved them. And he accepted them the way they were. And God took all of the sin of all of humanity, You and me, and put that on, Jesus. And he died. And in his death, he carried those sins away. In his death, he carried the memory of those sins away. In the death of Jesus Christ, sin has been taken away. in the death of Jesus Christ, the power of sin has been overcome. in the death, The burial and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. You and I have been set free from the curse that was installed in the Garden of Eden. We can Walk by faith. We can follow Jesus Christ. We can be filled with the Holy Spirit. And practice and live out the fruit of the spirit.
But we needed a savior. Because sin, sin Had ruined God’s perfect creation. And just so, you know, the Bible goes full circle. We’re introduced to the trees. the Tree of Life in Genesis two. And in Revelation 22, the very last chapter of the Bible, there it is again. In heaven. And you need as much fruit off that tree as you want to eat. Because life has been restored to us Through Jesus Christ.
would you stand and pray with me?
We thank you, Lord, for the stories and the truths we find in your word. And we pray, oh, God, that we will live as children of the King. That we would live a shameless life. Full of courage and faith. Bless us as we walk the journey of faith with you, we pray in your name, Amen.