“… but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden …’” (Genesis 3:3)
In the garden of Eden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil represented the possible choices people could make to do the wrong thing — the opposite of whatever was good, true, and lovely. It’s a gut-wrenching type of foreshadowing to see Adam and Eve make the choice to eat from that tree, and this points to all the times when God’s people would make sinful decisions in the future. As other stories in the Bible show, some people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes, to satisfy their own appetites and interests, while others trusted in God and obeyed, doing what was right.
One of the challenges we face as we read the Bible is to realize that even though people were created good, they were able to do evil, and even though people can be bad, that doesn’t mean they don’t have any good in them. For we are all created in God’s image, which is good, but every one of us can disobey and sin against God, breaking our relationship with him and with everything around us.
As we will see, sometimes situations are murky and have layers of meaning. However, all the nuances and complexities of sin are finally confronted in Jesus’ death for our sake on the cross. Instead of continually experiencing the estrangement brought about by eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we are reconciled with God by Jesus’ gift of his own life on the tree of the cross. Through his death, Jesus brought us reconciliation, restoration, and renewal.
Lord, we are often tempted to do only as we please. Rescue us from our willful and harmful decisions, and help us to pursue what is good and true. Amen.