Once upon a time we lived in a world of peace, belonging, and joy; having the honor of freedom and the great privilege of walking with God in the cool of the day. It was a nest that knew no shame, had no understanding of fear, and one in which “rightness” prevailed and “wrongness” was foreign. The majesty and beauty and richness of this long-forgotten place was beyond comprehension. Nothing was like it.
And it was such until, on a certain day, the people dwelling there threw it all aside, with fists raised high to the God with whom they had walked, having come—through the duplicity of the serpent—to believe that God could not be believed. With the slightest doubt spawning rebellion, paradise was lost. The joys of belonging disappeared. The peace that defined their souls evaporated. The honor of freedom gave way to a despair that terrorized the hearts of these once-pristine people. And the privilege of walking in the cool of the day with the Maker of Heaven and Earth became void.
This horrifying dilemma inaugurated a new normal, one in which the paradigms of rightness, honor and trust gave way to profound guilt, shame and fear. Seeing how Adam and Eve scrambled to make their lives work reveals the extent to which everything had changed. Genesis 3:7 tells us “the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.” Their guilt redefined their existence, and put into motion a decay that they would never be able to overcome in and of themselves. It forced them to hide in their shame (Gen. 3:8). And then it filled them with a terror they had not previously known (Gen. 3:10). No small wonder after God confronted them regarding this new normal, he, in his tender mercy, shed the blood of an animal, took its skin, and covered them. They were desperate for hope. Thus was the first real hint that someday, somehow, everything would be repaired.
So it was all we know became tainted. So it is that everything we see remains broken. And embedded within the soul of every child of Adam and Eve is a longing for something better; a hunger for a return to this Home that had been lost. Surely that longing is sown into the petition penned in Psalm 121:1, wherein the writer offers, “I lift my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.”
And then the help came in the person of Jesus Christ. “[B]ut God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Just like the shed blood of a lone animal dealt with the shame of Adam and Eve, so it is the shed blood of a greater sacrifice—Jesus Christ—brings a more thorough and eternal covering for you and me. As one eyewitness of Jesus’ death offers, “the blood of Jesus [God’s] son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). When Jesus died on the cross, he purchased for us our passage back to the original nest, back to the place where we could walk with God in the cool of the day, where shame and fear and guilt are replaced with peace and honor and trust. With his death he put into motion the making of all things to be new and right. And it is the resurrection of Jesus Christ that proves the legitimacy of this reality.
It is fascinating to note the story of the resurrection. A select number of women work their way to the tomb in which Jesus had been buried following his crucifxion. Angels greet them with the news that “Jesus who was crucified . . . has risen” (Matt. 28:5-6). The women are sent into a total tailspin, utterly overwhelmed by the news. And then, to their delight and fear, they meet the resurrected Jesus himself. “Greetings!” he offers them. And then he proceeds to tell them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me” (Matt. 28:9-10).
This is the great reversal. Suddenly the fear of Genesis 3:10 is met with an exhortation by the resurrected Lord to “not be afraid.” The shame embedded with the need to hide, as revealed in Genesis 3:8, is met with the clarion declaration that Jesus’ shame-filled friends are indeed his “brothers,” the relationship of honor thus restored. And the acknowledged guilt of Genesis 3:7, wherein Adam and Eve saw their own failure, is now met with the assertive statement that instead of seeing failure and guilt Jesus’ followers will see him. It is the “pure in heart” who see God (cp. Matt. 5:8). The cross of Christ, and the related proofpoint which is the resurrection, has made seeing God possible again. The guilt is gone.