Daily Reflections January 3, 2018
Books have been written on this chapter of the Bible and even they must make decisions on what they simply do not have space to include. Genesis 3 is so chalked full of importance that it is hard to know where to begin. Here are some brief observations of the key elements of this text:
1. The deceiver. This chapter highlights one of the Devil’s key strategies in attacking God’s people. It can be summarized with four words: Did God really say? (Gen. 3:1) That is the method and if you have been a Christian for any length of time than you have likely heard those words whispered in your own ear in a moment of temptation. The deceiver would have you question the goodness and the motives of God.
2. The willfully deceived. Eve proves herself to be an easy target in this chapter of futility. She does not resist the Devil’s lies for a second. In fact, she fuels the lies by adding to God’s word. She tells the Devil that God would not even allow her to touch the fruit (3:3) – a detail which is not found in the text. How often do we misrepresent God’s commands in order to make them look more restricting than they actually are?
3. Shame. The account of Adam and Eve hiding from God is nothing less than tragic. Here is mankind, the pinnacle of God’s creation, the ones whom He created to rule over the earth on His behalf and to enjoy His uninterrupted presence forever; here is mankind hiding from God. They are ashamed and they are afraid of their God. They were not made to feel these things.
4. The curse. You have no doubt heard countless preachers draw a line from the cross to this story. Our family uses the catechism for family devotions and when I ask my three-year-old son: “Why did Jesus have to die?” he responds: “For the sins of the world.” There would be no need for the cross if we had never sinned. There would be no need for the passion narratives in the Gospels if it were not for the Fall narrative in Genesis 3. From this moment on, women would suffer through childbirth and men would suffer through labor. Women would resent their husbands and would seek to obtain their roles and husbands would domineer over their wives. Adam and Eve were cast out from the uninterrupted presence of God and an angel with a flaming sword guarded the entrance.
5. The promise and provision. Thankfully, even in one of the darkest chapters in all of Scripture there is a ray of hope. In verse 15 we find what scholars call the “proto-evangelion”. It is the first glimpse of the gospel in the Bible. God tells the Devil that the war is far from over. He promises that a child will be born of a woman who will crush the serpent’s head. We know now that this promised Son is Jesus Christ. We also see a ray of hope in the way that God sends Adam and Eve out of the garden. Freshly aware of their nakedness, they had manufactured fig leaves into a covering for themselves. God, however, displays His kindness and generosity in verse 21 by clothing Adam and Eve with animal skins. Even in the midst of their rebellion, God was promising to bring restoration and was providing them with what they needed to cover their shame. The gospel shines brightly in the darkness of this passage.
Assistant Pastor Levi denBok
Previously in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus’ identity has been affirmed by angel annunciations and the Magi visitation. In Matthew 3, Jesus’ identity is affirmed by John the Baptist, God the Father and God the Spirit. These voices together testify to the true Son of God and his supreme worthiness.
John the Baptist was the second cousin and more importantly, the forerunner of Jesus Christ. John was a bridge, playing a vital role in linking God’s saving work in the Old Testament and his saving work in the New Testament through Jesus. His call was to be a messenger to prepare the way for the Messiah (Malachi 3:1). His ministry was spoken of by Isaiah who called him the “voice of one crying in the wilderness” (Isaiah 40:3). His message for the people was “Get ready, the King is on His way.”
John, the son of Zechariah the Priest, was a preacher and baptizer. Crowds of people from Jerusalem, Judea and the surrounding region were coming out to hear him preach. Let’s not forget that as Jesus’ disciples, like John, we are signposts in our words and actions pointing people away from ourselves and to Jesus.
John’s message was pointed and sobering, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. In Jesus, God with us, the Kingdom of Heaven had come near. To repent is to turn from sin and turn to God. Repentance involves a change of thinking and behavior. People were responding to his message, repenting, confessing sins and being baptized. The crowds were so impressed with his authority that they speculated whether he might be the Christ.
A delegation of Pharisees and Sadducees likewise came from Jerusalem to investigate John’s ministry. He rebuked these religious leaders and exposed their false assurance based upon their perceived ethic privilege and spiritual merit. They had little interest in obeying the message or humbling themselves before John or the coming King. Salvation from the wrath of God is for those who turn from sin in faith towards the Saviour. Separation of the humble and proud, in the work of the harvest had begun. How we react to the preached Word of God is indicative of our heart condition.
John had a prominent role and high calling, but the highest place is reserved for Jesus alone for he is supreme. John was not worthy to even touch the feet of Jesus, the mighty one of God.
…he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. (Matthew 3:11 ESV)
John preached but Jesus’ message was supreme. John baptized but Jesus’ baptism superseded John’s. John called people to repent but Jesus would judge the unrepentant. The kingdom, power and glory are the Lord’s alone.
What a sight it would have been to witness the inauguration of Jesus’ public ministry as the humble King stooped before John to be baptized. Immediately following his baptism, the Spirit of God anointed Jesus for ministry and the Father spoke words of affection and approval.
This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. (Matthew 3:17 ESV)
Let us likewise speak often of Jesus and point others to him. Let us bow before God’s mighty Son in humble service. Let us love him whom the Father loves and seek to please him with whom the Father is pleased.
Associate Pastor Jody Cross