Though darkness and death entered the world through one man, so light and life has entered through another. Today, Barry Cooper considers the fall of man and the promise of the Savior.
My mother was in her sixties when she entered the cancer hospice. That was bad enough. But there were younger people there too. I remember one young mother who would sit at the bedside of her husband every day, together with their two young kids—and the husband couldn’t have been more than thirty-five years old. Watching them hug him and kiss him goodnight, and to know that within a few weeks, that bed would be empty—that that young wife would be without her husband, those children without their father; to recognize that someone else would soon be brought in to occupy that bed, that another family would have the same dreadful experience we were having . . .
A friend of mine called while we were gathering up my mother’s things. I told him how dark it felt, not just to lose my own mother, but to see that young family go through it too. “Barry,” he said, “this is what it feels like to be under a curse.”
You see, my mother’s cancer was just one presenting symptom of a curse that all of us are under. When it comes close to you, as it did then, it really does feel like a nightmare you can’t wake up from. And there’s a very good reason for that.
John Calvin says,
Before the fall, the state of the world was a most fair and delightful mirror of the divine favor and paternal indulgence towards man. Now, in all the elements we perceive that we are cursed.
This curse dates back to the events described in Genesis chapter 3. It’s the moment theologians describe as the fall. It’s the moment when our ancient ancestors, Adam and Eve, ate from the tree God had commanded them not to eat from.
Now, why was eating from that tree so significant? Are we honestly saying that the sum total of human misery across history is all down to the simple act of someone eating some fruit? Well, it’s not so much the act itself as what the act represents.
Imagine I take off my wedding ring and throw it in the sea. On one level, it’s no big deal. It’s not as if the ring is particularly expensive. It’s really just a tiny piece of metal thrown into a body of water—who cares about that? But what the act represents, what it would show about my heart, would be huge—and the repercussions would be considerable. The marriage would seem to be over.
When Adam and Eve ate the fruit, in one sense, it was only a small thing. But what it represented was huge—as were the repercussions. It showed that they didn’t really believe God—specifically, His warning that if they ate it, they would die. In fact, they presumably felt that disobeying God on this would be beneficial to them in some way, that they could do better without God, at least in this particular case. That God was lying to them, or keeping something good from them. And that belief was what caused Eve and then Adam to take and eat.
This is the fall. What did Adam and Eve fall from? Well, they fell from their state of loving communion with God. As promised, death entered the world. God says that childbearing would from then on become painful, relationships between men and women would become difficult and dislocated, and work would also become a painful toil.
Because they’d eaten the fruit, a nightmare began, one it seems we can’t wake up from. The marriage—between God and humanity—seems to be over.
And yet, even in the immediate aftermath of the fall, God promises that Satan—the one who had tempted Eve to take and eat the fruit in the first place—would be crushed by one of Adam and Eve’s descendants.
At the Last Supper, shortly before He died, Jesus echoes the fateful moment when Adam and Eve took and ate the fruit. He says to His disciples, “Take, eat; this is my body.” The echo is surely significant, reminding them—and us—that though darkness and death entered the world through one man, so light and life will now enter through another.
As promised, Eve’s offspring—Jesus Christ—is now bringing to an end the long reign of sin and death in the world. God and humankind are being reconciled, and the marriage that had seemed to be over is being restored, renewed, and one day—in the new creation—that marriage will be seen to be even more glorious even than it was in the unspoiled garden of Eden.
If your trust is in Christ, if you belong to Him, that is your present and future reality: “As in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”
The fall will be overcome. The curse will be reversed.