Once upon a time, there was a garden.

garden roses 2017

This is told in my own words, material taken from Genesis 1-3. I have not translated directly from the original language; I have translated very loosely from English, trying to adhere to the essential facts while making the story easier to read for my purposes.

John 1:1-5
“In the beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself. He was [continually existing] in the beginning [co-eternally] with God. All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him not even one thing was made that has come into being. In Him was life [and the power to bestow life], and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness did not understand it or overpower it or appropriate it or absorb it [and is unreceptive to it].” 

Once upon a time, there was a garden. It was perfect, and lovely, and teeming with life. In the garden there were all kinds of fruits and vegetables. Bushes of berries. Gourd vines with squash of all colors. Trees with oranges, lemons, pomegranates, apples, bananas, all kinds of fruit. There were mock orange trees, and weeping willows, and pines, and tall shady oaks. There were flowering bushes. Everywhere, there were insects, and birds, and small animals, and larger animals, too. There were rivers springing from the middle of the garden and branching out in different directions, and in the rivers were fish, and water birds, and water animals. This was the most amazing garden, and it was called, Land of Happiness.

God had made the Land of Happiness. In it, he had put a man. God told Man to enjoy the Land of Happiness, and to cultivate it, learn about seeds and planting, what the animals liked, what fruits tasted good together. God told Man only to avoid the tree in the center of the garden, the one called Knowledge. The tree called Life was also there, but that was not forbidden. Then God brought all the different animals before Man, and showed them to him, and proved that Man was unequalled in the Land of Happiness. There was not another creature like Man, he was only himself, and alone. None of the animals could help Man, could be a companion, could talk back to him, could really understand him as himself, because they were not like him.

Then God put Man to sleep.

Now, God had made the sun come by speaking, the waters, the dry land, all by speaking. God had sprouted the plants by voice, and brought the lights of stars and moon at night by saying so. God had told the earth to sprout up creatures, and the insects and birds and animals had formed. God had made the Man last, forming him in God’s own likeness with God’s own hands in the soil, shaping the Man like a potter with clay, and finally breathing life into Man’s body. God could have made Woman by speaking from nothing, by commanding the earth to sprout her up, or by shaping her with God’s own hands the way Man was made. God chose differently.

God put Man to sleep. God reached in and took Man’s rib, taking matter from Man’s own body and not from the soil, and shaped Woman in God’s likeness. God showed Woman to Man, and they were together, suitable, equal, naked, and unashamed.

One day, Woman had a conversation with a snake, called Satan. Satan questioned Woman, seeking to alter her thinking towards God. Satan began by stating a deliberate untruth which Satan knew she would correct, “Did God really say not to eat from any tree in the garden?” “Oh, no,” Woman replied, “We can eat from any tree except that one in the center, the one called Knowledge. God told us not to touch that one or we will die.” Satan replied, “You won’t die, God knows this. God knows the fruit will bring you knowledge of good and evil that God has, and you will be like God yourself.”

Then Woman was confused in her mind, and believed the lie, and took the fruit from the tree called Knowledge and ate some. Then she turned to Man, who was with her, and offered him a bite, and he ate, too. Then, both Man and Woman understood, and could see evil as well as good and the difference between the two, and their innocence died. They hid from God, suddenly aware of their naked skins and now naked minds, when God came looking for them.

God, being God, knew where they were, but yet God gave them a chance to respond. God called out, “Where are you?” Man spoke first, saying, “I heard you coming and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.” “Who told you that you were naked?” asked God. Man and Woman had always been naked and never minded before. “Did you eat the fruit from the tree called Knowledge, the tree I told you not to touch or you would die?” And Man, as if he had not been next to Woman the entire time and known what the fruit was, said, “Woman, who you put with me, she gave the fruit to me, so I ate.” God spoke to the Woman, “What did you do?” and she replied, “The snake tricked me and so I ate.”

God turned to the snake, and spoke a curse and a prediction:
“Because you have done this, you are cursed. You will travel on your belly, the lowest of the low, in the dust all your life. I will put open hostility between you and Woman, and between your offspring and her Seed. He shall crush your head beyond recovery, while you shall only bruise His heel.”

God turned to Woman and spoke a curse and a prediction:
“I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, it will cost you physical and mental pain to bring forth children. Yet in spite of this, your desire and longing will be for your husband, and he will apply authority over you.” 

God turned to Man and spoke a curse and a prediction:
“She was tricked. You chose to listen to your wife’s wrongful words and ate when you knew better. The ground is now under a curse because of you. With sorrow and hard work you shall eat the fruit of it all the days of your life. It will grow thorns and thistles, no longer easy growing crops. You shall eat the plants of the field, but by labor, and sweat, until you return to the ground in death, for from the ground you were formed. You are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Man, the first man called Adam, then turned to his wife and made his first statement of authority over her, choosing her a name: Eve, mother. Then God killed animals and formed clothing out of the skins to cover Adam and Eve, and sent them from the garden. This was the first sacrifice, where animals were used to make a temporary covering for mankind’s nakedness and deliberate wrong.

God said, “Look, mankind has become like one of Us, our Plural God-self, knowing how to distinguish between good and evil. And now he might stretch out his hand for the fruit from the tree called Life, and eat, and would live in this fallen, sinful, death-filled state forever.” So God drove them out, though they did not want to leave, and at the east of the Garden of Eden God permanently placed the cherubim and the sword with the flashing blade which turned round and round in every direction, to protect and guard the access to the tree of Life.

But God had already formed another plan, a plan he weaved into the curses for us to see. The Woman’s Seed would be God’s own Self, conceived perfectly and spontaneously the way God created all life in the beginning, inside a woman. That Seed would be perfectly God, and perfectly man, and would be Jesus. He would be the new tree called Life. The old tree could not take away the sin, and the knowledge of and desire for evil, but Jesus could. Jesus would take on the cost of sin, the removal from God’s immediate presence and the death that follows, but being perfectly God could not possibly stay dead or harmed. And in rising to life again, Jesus would be the new tree called Life, through whom mankind could be both forgiven for the Knowledge and restored to Life eternally with God.

So you see, Jesus breaks the curse. In restoring Man and Woman back to the rightness of standing with God, where they should have eaten from the tree of Life that was never forbidden and ignored the tree of Knowledge that was, Jesus works a deeper magic than Satan could ever have known, and makes even death work backwards. Jesus lifts the power of the curse and snaps it. And when we accept that Life in Jesus Christ, and give him our sinful Knowledge, even the curse binding Adam and Eve to gender roles of authority and submission is broken!

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