Posted by: St. Mark Lutheran Church | June 20, 2009

Sermon on Genesis 3:8-15

Where are you?

In the Name of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.

Genesis 3:8-15: Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.  But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”  He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”  And he 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 the livestock and all the 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.”

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Everything Adam and Eve did, said, or felt, you’ve done, said, or felt, because One common sin infects us all. We haven’t learned anything in 6,000 years.  You’d think we would.  You’d think that we might get smarter, we might evolve.  Nope.  The darkened soul/Nor seeks nor finds its heav’nly goal.

Today we’re forced to see this.  Genesis 3 makes us conscious of our sins, conscious of ourselves, conscious of our behaviors.  It makes us conscious of the fact that we’re in the exact same boat Adam and Eve were, whether we like it or not.  When the LORD God says, WHERE ARE YOU? We must answer, LOST IN SIN, but joyfully, we can also say, FOUND IN GRACE. Lost in sin, here’s what we assume we must do:

Panic!  It’s the garage-door rumbling, it’s the car pulling in, it’s the jangling keys, it’s the footsteps coming down the hall!  Red-faced, quickly losing composure you run around like the proverbial headless chicken.  It’s intense terror.  “I’m currently red-handed!  Can I get everything put away, zipped up, sealed, back in place so that no one will notice anything?”  That’s Adam and Eve.  The man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking.

Then, hide!  Maybe physically:  in a closet, under a bed, driving away, locking a door.  Maybe metaphorically, “Ok, sit down, be cool, act natural.”  Either way, the face is flushed, the heart is pounding, and every fiber of your being is praying, “Please don’t see me, please don’t see me, please don’t see me.”  That’s Adam and Eve. They hid from the Lord God.

Then, confrontation!  Mom and Dad will come to your room.  You’ll have to go home.  You’ll have to face your husband, your wife, your boss, your teacher, or whoever.  But now you’ve got a fool-proof plan:  “Admit only what you have too!”  Answer only what’s asked.  Cover it up as long as possible.  Hide it, tuck it away, not tell anyone.  And then, when it’s discovered, only give it out it drips and drabs.  Only answer as much as literally asked, even though I know what I’m being asked.  That’s Adam and Eve.  The Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”  He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.

Eventually that strategy falls apart.  Even the most naïve and trusting people will ask specific questions.  But, when they do, there’s always the old reliable, “It’s not my fault!”  Passing the blame is a quick way to divert attention.  “She did it!”  “He told me to!”  “I didn’t know!”  “It wasn’t me.”  That’s Adam and Eve. And he 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.”

Eventually you run out of people to blame.  So you blame God.  “You made me do it God!  You let me be tempted!  You put this in my life!  You didn’t stop me!  You made me this way!”  It’s God’s fault.  If bad things happen, it’s God.  If I sin, it’s God.  That’s Adam and Eve.  “The woman you put here with me….And, now that you mention it, there wouldn’t have been fruit to eat if you hadn’t put this tree there.”

It’s shocking how much we’re like our parents:  dumb, thoughtless, selfish, arrogant, proud, rude, and embarrassed.  The nuts don’t fall far from the tree.  And what happened to them happens to us.  Because there are no excuses.  God didn’t say it, but He could have, “I told you so.  I warned you.  I commanded you.  I kept it simple.”  What He did say was simple enough:  The moment you eat of it you will surely die….Dust you are, to dust you will return….The wages of sin is death….The soul that sins is the one that will die. Adam and Eve didn’t look it, but they were lost.  We don’t always look it, but so are we.  Lost in sin.  This is the stupidity that sin makes us think we have to do to get through life.  This stupidity drives us to hurt others, lie, cheat, hide, and steal.  It drives us to run from God, the only one who can help.  It drives us to run from God, the only one who can find us.  Look at Him searching.

He comes after man. The Lord God…was walking in the garden in the cool of the day. The Hebrew verb gives us the sense of God walking where His feet led.  But we know God better than that.  We know that He is the LORD who searches us and knows us, who knows our thoughts, words, and actions, who knows the words we’ll speak even before they’re on our tongue.  We would be naïve to think that God just happened to be out and about that day.

He calls out after man.  Where are you? Some have called this the first evangelism visit.  Omniscient God knows His creation is in trouble.  While we don’t have a recording of this conversation and so can’t know the tone, don’t you get the incredible sense of patience, calmness, and love.  This is slightly dangerous to day, but it doesn’t feel like God is saying, “WHERE ARE YOU?!?!?!!”  Rather, “Where are you?”

He gives opportunities for confession.  Who told you you were naked? Like a knowing parent, God, who already has the answers, gives Adam a chance to say it himself.  And even when Adam and Eve both stone-wall God and avoid admitting guilt, He continues working with stubborn sinners.  What have you done?

And when it all finally comes out, He provides the Savior and forgiveness we don’t earn or deserve.  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. He promises a future Seed of the woman, a male offspring, who will work vengeance upon this serpent who is more than a serpent, this serpent who is Satan.  A promise kept in Christ.  Today Christ revealed Himself to be that promise-keeper.  Responding to the charge of being a demon-possessed exorcist, Jesus says, How can Satan drive out Satan?  If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.  If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.  And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come.  In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house. Jesus tied up the strong-man, the devil.  He crushed Satan underfoot.  He made a public spectacle of the devil, marching into hell and doing the touchdown dance of all touchdown dances.  He took the devil, hurled him into the Abyss, and will at the end of time cast him into the lake of burning sulfur.

He did all that because it was He who came and reversed the curse.  Later in 2 Corinthians Paul writes, God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. Adam and Eve, and every subsequent sinner, divorced themselves from God.  They deserted God.  But He brought us back.  He reconciled things.  In Christ.  In Christ who came and did not eat of the tree.  In Christ who came and was never caught red-handed.  In Christ who came and never hid because there was nothing to hide from.  In Christ who came and never had to lie.  In Christ who came and never passed the blame.  In Christ who came and did not blame God, but simply cried out, Into your hands I commit my Spirit. As by one man all mankind fell/And, born in sin, was doomed to hell,/So by one Man, who took our place,/We all were justified by grace.

The LORD God of Genesis 3, the LORD God of Calvary, the LORD God of the Empty Tomb makes it clear:  we run TO God, not away from Him.  Seeing who He is, seeing what He’s done, we need not be afraid to boldly confess our sins – those we know and those we don’t.  We need not fear the response, because in Christ it is ever and always the same, “Forgiven.  Paid for.  Washed away.  Ransomed.  Gone.”  It is the calm assurance of Paul, who can write: we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. It is the calm assurance of a pastor, who can say in the privacy of His office, “Then neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.”  It is the calm assurance of a parent, holding their child, as those holy waters are poured upon it in the name of the Triune God for the forgiveness of their sins.  It is the calm assurance of the Christian who receives the LORD God’s body and blood, and knows, “For me, for the forgiveness of my sins.”  Where are you?  You were lost.  Now you’re found.  Found by grace.  Found by Jesus.  Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  Amen.

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