Summary: Our blessed hope, a trustworthy assurance, is that we will once again eat of the Tree of Life as we have been given access to the grace of God through the Tree of Grace; the Cross of Calvary. Amen.
One evening a woman was driving home when she noticed a huge truck behind her that was driving uncomfortably close. She stepped on the gas to gain some distance from the truck, but when she sped up the truck did too. The faster she drove the faster drove the truck. Now scared, she exited the freeway. But the truck stayed with her. The woman then turned up a main street, hoping to lose her pursuer in traffic. But the truck ran a red light and continued the chase.
Reaching the point of panic, the woman whipped her car into a service station and bolted out of her auto screaming for help. The truck driver sprang from his truck and ran toward her car. Yanking the back door open, the driver pulled out a man hidden in the backseat. The woman was running from the wrong person. From his high vantage point, the truck driver had spotted a would-be rapist in the woman’s car. The chase was not his effort to harm her but to save her even at the cost of his own safety.
Likewise, many people run from God’s provision of atonement on the cross, fearing what He might do to them. But His plans are for good not evil – to rescue us from the hidden sins that endanger our lives; that threaten our eternal destiny and the current blessedness of this life.
At the Cross Jesus was repairing the creator-creature relationship. At the Cross Jesus was restoring what had been previously broken in the Garden of Eden; namely the intended beauty of the relationship between God and man. God created humanity in His very image; Imago Dei.
Man was created to live in harmony with the world around him and in the splendor of closeness with His creator; God. The trouble is that from the very beginning human freedom has entailed human failure and sin. God, in creating humanity in His very image, gave to man the freedom to create; the freedom to love; the freedom to obey; and necessarily the freedom to rebel.
It is in our freedom, at least in part, that we see the image of God within us. We have been created with moral capacity for good and evil, complexity in creative ability and culpability for our actions. All of this is true; God is sovereign and He has given us free will and choice. We are at the same time responsible for our actions, accountable to our creator, and free to make our own choices.
Inherent in having been created Imago Dei is the possibility of our misusing our creative nature in rebellion to God; just as Adam and Eve, though tempted, did. At the Cross we find Jesus, whom the Bible refers to as the second Adam, atoning for sin and restoring the broken relationship between God and man.
I Corinthians 15:21-22 says, “For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” (NKJV) That is what Calvary’s Cross is all about; reconciliation between God and man, and subsequently, a means of reconciliation between man and man as we are enabled to love one another by the power of God’s grace.
That’s what we will be talking about this morning: The Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden which was lost, the restored Tree of Life in the book of Revelation which is promised, and the Tree of Life which has brought about the hope of the reconciliation of the two – the Cross of Jesus Christ!
In the very beginning of creation God placed mankind in a state of perfection. Adam walked with God daily, spoke to Him, and knew Him in an intimate personal way that often seems terribly foreign to us today. Surely we are all at least familiar with the story of how Satan, the fallen and formerly chief angel of God, appeared to Adam and Eve in the form of a serpent and tempted Eve to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. She later gave that fruit to Adam to eat.
This is the account of the fall of humanity into sinful rebellion and disobedience to God. According to the Genesis account there were two trees in the Garden of Eden which were of particularly special value; the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Humanity ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and became, not gods as Satan had promised, but quit to the contrary, invited death through sin into man’s dominion; the earth.
Up to this point humanity had lived in perfect connection to God. Had sin not entered the world, this relationship with God would have remained the same. Prior to the fall there was no sickness and no death; the world was as it was intended to be; a blissful paradise of communion with God. Man had been given dominion by God to rule and reign in peace over all that He had created and in harmony with his fellow man. We see the effects of the fall all around us, even to this day.