Each generation has to wrestle afresh with the question of Jesus… we should discover more and more of who Jesus was and is, precisely in order to be equipped to engage with the world that he came to save. And this is a task for the whole church.
-N.T. Wright (The Challenge of Jesus, p. 31)
Adam and Eve had it good. Then they had to screw it all up. There was just one thing they couldn’t do, just one area that was off-limits, so you’d think they could have not messed it up for the rest of us, right? C’mon guys!
“Don’t eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Don’t do it,” God said. Have you ever wondered why God said that? Did He arbitrarily choose one tree out of the garden, or was there something potently dangerous about this tree?
(Speculative side-note: what if Satan actually planted this tree?)
God placed Adam and Eve on the earth to be his co-regents, to rule the earth while remaining under his rule. They did not originally have any knowledge of good and evil (this is my theory as to why they did not care that they were all nakey; there was not even a hint of shame in their self-awareness). They did not need the knowledge of good and evil; they simply needed to trust their King and obey Him in all things. Which does make things simpler and less stressful… remember the good ol’ days of a carefree childhood?
So their great disobedience was the intentional pursuit of discovering and choosing good and evil for themselves, spurning their Father and His rightful rule, commandeering His reign over their lives.
The sad truth is each of us is Adam… or Eve, if you’d prefer. Every man, woman, and child has stood before that tree, grabbed the fruit and defiantly devoured it, rejecting God’s reign over us, making ourselves kings/gods in our own eyes. We have all eaten of that tree.
But there is a second tree, and a second command to go with it.
We are also familiar with this tree. A sanitized version of it is one of the most popular religious symbols in the world, but there is nothing sanitary about this tree. It is a gruesome instrument of torture and execution.
The tree is the cross, and the command is to eat the fruit of this tree. What is the fruit that hangs from this tree? Jesus Messiah, the sacrificial Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Jesus commands those willing to live under His reign to “eat His flesh, and drink His blood.” Symbolically, by taking in the bread and the cup; literally, by fully taking in Jesus and His ways, placing Him in His rightful place as King of our lives.
The fruit of the first tree brought separation, exile, and death. The fruit of the second tree brings reunion, restoration, and life.
The first tree gave us intimate knowledge of good and evil, something too potent for us to handle, bringing chaos and collapse into our lives and rippling throughout all of creation.
The second tree gives us the opportunity for a different kind of knowledge: an intimate knowing of King Jesus… discovering the power of His resurrection, joining Him by sharing in His sufferings, somehow becoming like Him in His death, someday attaining resurrection through Him, and living victoriously with Him forever.
Eat the fruit of THIS tree.