It’s strange. We often talk about life and death, but this time I have it reversed - death then life. Life then death sounds like the natural process. We are born, we live, we die. But the Bible tells us we are dead in sin the moment we are born, spiritually dead that is.
Death in itself is proof of sin. Separation from God from the moment we are born is proof of sin. That is why Paul goes to great length to discuss why there is death even though the law has not been given from the time of Adam to Moses. (Romans 5:12-14). A general result demands a general cause. I think I gave a terrible example during intro and probably misled a lot of people. But the point is not really about whether if we are in Adam’s position, we may have reversed the propensity to eat the apple. It is that empirically, from what the rest of the Bible says and from observation of the world today, we know that something must have gone wrong in the beginning and something must have affected us in a way we are born. Why else do we need to be ‘born again’ to see and enter the kingdom of God?
We were discussing about Jesus and Lazarus during Seo’s bible study and we came to one of the most interesting sections of the Book of John, where Jesus’ emotions became fully portrayed and exemplified. Here’s a section of some commentary and from this, we can probably see much better the interplay of death and life from God’s perspective:
John 11:33-34. In great contrast with the Greek gods’ apathy or lack of emotion, Jesus’ emotional life attests the reality of His union with people. Deeply moved may either be translated “groaned” or more likely “angered.” The Greek word enebrimēsato (from embrimaomai) seems to connote anger or sternness. (This Gr. verb is used only five times in the NT, each time of the Lord’s words or feelings: Matt. 9:30; Mark 1:43; 14:5; John 11:33, 38.)
Jesus himself is angry at the reign of sin and death. Why was Jesus angry? Some have argued that He was angry because of the people’s unbelief or hypocritical wailing. But this seems foreign to the context. A better explanation is that Jesus was angry at the tyranny of Satan who had brought sorrow and death to people through sin (cf. 8:44; Heb. 2:14-15). Also Jesus was troubled (etaraxen, lit., “stirred” or “agitated,” like the pool water in John 5:7; cf. 12:27; 13:21; 14:1, 27). This disturbance was because of His conflict with sin, death, and Satan.
11:35-37. Jesus’ weeping differed from that of the people. His quiet shedding of tears (edakrysen) differed from their loud wailing (klaiontas, v. 33). His weeping was over the tragic consequences of sin. The crowd interpreted His tears as an expression of love, or frustration at not being there to heal Lazarus.
John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck and Dallas Theological Seminary, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures, Jn 11:33–37 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983-).
Knowing how angry at the reign of death and sin God is, you know it isn’t the state He wanted the world to be. And we know that God’s story will never end that way. Therefore, just as sin reigned through the disobedience of one man, Adam, so grace would reign so much more through the righteousness and obedience of one Man, Jesus Christ!
The Acorn and the Oak
We talked about death, but what about life? Time and again I’m inspired by the acorn. It’s hard to imagine that something so puny contains God’s grand design of the kind of life He wants this acorn to have.
“Think of the self that God has given us as an acorn. It is a marvelous little thing, a perfect shape, perfectly designed for its purpose, perfectly functional. Think of the grand glory of an oak tree. God’s intention when He made the acorn was the oak tree. His intention for us is “..the measure of stature of the fullness of Christ.” Many deaths must go into our reaching that measure, many letting-goes. When you look at the oak tree, you don’t feel that ‘loss’ of the acorn is a very great loss. The more you perceive God’s purpose for you life, the less terrible will the losses seem.”
Elizabeth Elliot, from Passion and Purity
The result of grace is this - the forgoing of the past and the losses which seem so overwhelming, cherishing the love relationship we have with God, and having the abundance of a new and full life. Adam never knew the love and grace of God. If he did, would he have taken the apple in disobedience? Now after all these exposition, I hope you’re ready to answer this question: If you never knew the love and grace of God, would you have taken the apple? Factually speaking, I would.
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