Scripture Reading: Genesis 3:1-15, 1 Corinthians 15:45-49, Hebrews 2:14-16
When old Alberta Hoffman died, I was five years old.
Our family paid our respects at the funeral home across the street from our new house, along with various friends and family in our small Michigan town. I don’t remember much about that day, but one moment has never ceased to haunt me.
The funeral had ended, and ladies in dresses and men in suits were gathered on the funeral home lawn. I was feeling especially proud of the proximity of our house to the event, and in my enthusiasm, I bolted across the street to change out of my too-lacey dress.
He shouted so loudly I was sure the whole town heard. And if they didn’t hear our pastor yelling, they heard the squealing brakes of the blue sedan that stopped just short enough that my tiny hands and torso came to rest on its hood.
My little life was saved, but all I remember feeling was monumental embarrassment. Every eye was on me, and I fought back tears because of my very public mistake. Everyone knows not to cross the street without looking both ways. It was Rule #1, I’d broken it, and the whole town saw it happen.
There are a myriad of differences between my story and the story of Eden, but the few similarities somehow help me understand what happened in the garden a bit more. The consequence of my action and their sin would rightly have been death, but all that concerned us was our shame. And the bigger headline of both of our stories is this: we were saved!
Sometimes when I think of the scene in the garden, I find my self focusing on the consequences. I think about how apparent Adam and Eve’s humanity became. They were naked and afraid and facing lives of painful labor because they broke Rule #1.
But God is good, and wise, and in the business of redemption. In Genesis we see that God disciplined them with both mercy and justice. He promised a plan for humanity’s newly-needed rescue (Genesis 3:15). He disciplined his children (vv.16-19). He covered their shame (v.21). And He sent them out of the garden (vv.23-24), where they would await the fulfillment of the first promise of redemption—the coming Messiah.
Today is an important day. It is our chance to begin the Advent season with this very first recorded promise of a Savior. When we think of our sin, we’re often tempted to focus on our shame, or perhaps on our consequences. Today, as we walk out the consequences of participating in a fallen world, be reminded that the God who made us disciplines us because He loves us. He covers our shame. He saves us from death, giving us life instead (Ephesians 2:4-5).
These next four weeks are all about God’s justice and mercy and His plan to save the world through Jesus, His Son. We’ll read hints and promises and proofs of this plan of salvation in action, so that, when we arrive at Christmas Day, we might have a fuller view of the significance of Christ’s Advent.
We read as people living between two Advents—on the “He did” side of the first Advent of Jesus (celebrating what God has done), and on the “He will” side of Jesus’ second coming (celebrating what He is doing and will do).
As we read, may we remember: we’re reading our very own story of rescue.