Summary: We need to understand what was "covered up" at the Cross and what was "exposed" in the garden in order to fully appreciate what Jesus did for us.
The Ransom View of the Atonement
This is the third sermon in my series on the last week of Jesus life. Three weeks ago, we examined Jesus’ act of “trashing the temple”, the next week, we watched as Mary prepared him for burial while he was still alive; last week we observed what the Last Supper must have looked like. And this week…we will try to to come to grips with the Price Jesus is paying.
1. 1. Atonement: To Cover.
a. Have you ever tried to cover up your mistakes?
1. I recall changing my report card once…a “D” in Science in 7th grade to a “B”. My sin found me out. I got a whupping by my science teacher with a paddle that seemed as big as a baseball bat with holes drilled through it so it would move faster through the air before it made contact with its intended target.
2. Why is a lie so quick to produce another lie? It is because we have a tendency, an inborn desire not to have our lies and sins exposed. Some of it has to do with shame, but most of it is because we just don’t want anyone to know we are flawed.
3. You and I must realize that every human being has sinned. That includes you and me.
4. None of us like to admit our sins, our faults, our failings and our open and sometimes hidden rebellion against God’s rule in our lives. But the fact remains…every one of us has sinned. We do things we should not.
5. And then we cover up what we do!
1. And that concealment, the covering…is another word for “atone.” The biblical word for “atone” means to cover or to cover over.
2. We try to “atone” for our actions!
3. Even criminals will try to cover up their crimes…and the more horrendous, often times the more effort will be made to cover them up, to conceal the crime from being discovered.
b. There is a story early in the bible that speaks about a couple of people who did something they weren’t supposed to do, realized it, and then tried to cover it up. And they worked really hard to cover it up, but God saw right through their actions. Their story is the story of Adam and Eve.
1. They were in the garden of Eden and were told not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil.
2. But they believed the serpent’s lies and false promises, and after consuming it, they…
1. Genesis 3:7 “They the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.”
3. The word for “coverings” literally means “girdle” or loin cloth;
4. In a sense, Adam and Eve tried to construct their own atonement or covering for their nakedness – sin does that, it leaves us feeling exposed, vulnerable and helpless.
1. They recognized that they were now “uncovered” because of sin, so they sought to cover themselves.
2. They ATONED for themselves with their own works, their own efforts, notably, through the word “sewing”. (taphar). They tried to cover up their shame and their sin by themselves.
1. The idea that we are not to try to atone for our own sin is further underlined by the instructions to the Israelites for building altars in both the wilderness as well as when they entered the promised land.
2. They were told to build them out of undressed stone. No tool was to be used to build the altar or to shape the stones. It was not to be a “work of human hands.”
3. The truth of the spiritual matter is that we cannot make a sufficient covering for our actions any more than Adam and Eve were able to make sufficient clothing to cover their own nakedness from God and from their conscience.
1. But fortunately, the bible doesn’t stop the story there.
2. It tells us in Genesis 3:21 that “God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.”
3. God provided them the atonement or clothing that would cover them properly.
1. Heb. Labash: to be clothed, fully clothed
2. Literally, “God clothed them with garments of animal skins.”
3. God had to take the skins from animals, which meant that these animals had to give up their hides. This tells us that animals had to DIE so that appropriate coverings (atonement could be made for Adam and his wife.
4. We have here in Genesis, the first act of redemption in the Bible – the act of one’s life being given for another’s sin.
5. In this case, the animals were innocent and Adam and Eve were not.