Adam – where are you?

Date: Sunday, 19 April 2020 | Preacher:
Seri­es: | Bible text: Gene­sis 3:1–7
Hint: This ser­mon has been machi­ne trans­la­ted. Plea­se note that we can­not accept any respon­si­bi­li­ty for the accu­ra­cy of the content.

When the ser­pent temp­ted humans in the Gar­den of Eden, Adam stood silent­ly and pas­si­ve­ly bes­i­de his wife. This pat­tern has been repeated mil­li­ons of times over the cour­se of time. Many men shut them­sel­ves off when things beco­me con­fu­sing or threa­tening. The second Adam, Jesus Christ, chan­ges the omens completely.


 

We are in the most beau­ti­ful idyll in the Gar­den of Eden. Recent­ly I pho­to­gra­phed a pic­tu­re on which the fol­lowing text was prin­ted next to a magni­ficent land­s­cape: «Eden in Thur­gau – the Thur­gau land­s­cape as a sym­bol of the Gar­den of Eden. The­re are cer­tain­ly more regi­ons in our father­land that are even more fer­ti­le and bet­ter cul­ti­va­ted than the Thur­gau, but no regi­on in Ger­ma­ny has the repu­ta­ti­on of an Eden as much as the Thur­gau, becau­se none is so hea­vi­ly plan­ted with fruit trees.» This is what Chris­toph Mei­ners – pro­fes­sor of world­ly wis­dom in Göt­tin­gen – wro­te in a let­ter in 1788 and thus shaped the image of Switzerland.

In the Gar­den of Eden, the first human cou­p­le, Adam and Eve, lived hap­pi­ly and ful­fil­led tog­e­ther in har­mo­ny with their Creator. In the midd­le of this idyll they encoun­ter a sna­ke. The peop­le of the Ori­ent con­si­de­red it to be the sym­bol of cun­ning and decep­ti­on. «The ser­pent was the most cun­ning of all the ani­mals that the Lord God had crea­ted. «Did God real­ly say,» she asked the woman, «that you must not eat fruit from the trees of the gar­den?» «(Gene­sis 3:1 NL). Behind the ser­pent hides the temp­ter, also cal­led Satan (mudd­ler). That’s exact­ly the nas­ty way he’s still try­ing. He exa­g­ge­ra­tes enor­mous­ly. Peop­le were allo­wed to eat from all the trees, but not from that one. After­wards the sna­ke lies to them both: «You will not die,» the sna­ke his­sed. God knows that if you eat of it, your eyes will be ope­ned. You will be like God and will know good from evil.»(v.4f NL).

Adam is silent

Throughout histo­ry, the Church has usual­ly bla­med Eve for the fall of the human race. Along­side the capri­cious­ness of the «wea­ker ves­sel», Adam is put in a bet­ter light. The­re are various good rea­sons to assu­me that Adam was stan­ding next to Eve during the who­le con­ver­sa­ti­on. Of the four rea­sons that sup­port this assump­ti­on, I will take out one. And that is: «And the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desi­ra­ble to give under­stan­ding; and she took of the fruit the­re­of, and did eat; and she gave also unto her hus­band with her, and he did eat.»(v.6 Elb). Why did­n’t Adam say anything? Befo­re God crea­ted Eve, he had com­man­ded Adam never to eat from this very spe­ci­fic tree. He pro­bab­ly did. But when the ser­pent crept up and enga­ged in a con­ver­sa­ti­on to cast doubt on God’s good­ness, Adam said not­hing, even though he heard every word. He could have said: «Hey, hold this, dar­ling! This sna­ke is up to no good. I’ve seen through her wiles. We have no rea­son to doubt God’s good­ness.» And then he would have tur­ned to the sna­ke and said, «Sna­ke, the con­ver­sa­ti­on is over. Get lost!«But Adam did not say a sin­gle word. He left his wife alo­ne. The first time it came to that, God’s cau­se, in his first spi­ri­tu­al batt­le – he fai­led. Adam, whe­re are you?

Immedia­te­ly befo­re this sce­ne is the crea­ti­on account. In Gene­sis 1, God encoun­ters darkness and cha­os. He spo­ke into the darkness, brin­ging forth order, beau­ty and rela­ti­ons­hip. It is a God who speaks to estab­lish rela­ti­ons­hip. After he has crea­ted ever­ything, he keeps the Sabbath.

Adam was crea­ted in God’s image, but beha­ves fun­da­ment­al­ly dif­fer­ent­ly. The ser­pent cau­ses con­fu­si­on and cha­os. Inte­res­tin­g­ly, it is Eve who reflects the image of God more clear­ly than Adam, becau­se she talks to the ser­pent. But what about Adam? The Bible does not report that God gave him any inst­ruc­tions about what to say to the ser­pent. So he kept silent. Adam was phy­si­cal­ly pre­sent, but emo­tio­nal­ly not. He faded into the back­ground ins­tead of step­ping for­ward into the lime­light. He was made to talk, but he did not say a word. He lis­tened to the ser­pent, he lis­tened to what his wife said, he took of the fruit, and then he ate. Three times he reac­ted pas­si­ve­ly befo­re eating from the for­bid­den fruit.

When God spo­ke, crea­ti­on emer­ged from cha­os; when Adam was silent, cha­os retur­ned to crea­ti­on. God used lan­guage to estab­lish a rela­ti­ons­hip; Adam used silence to des­troy the rela­ti­ons­hip. God res­ted after crea­ting ever­ything; Adam had to work even har­der as a result of his silence.

Many men still fol­low this pat­tern today; they do not feel com­pe­tent in rela­ti­ons­hips and remain silent. Their safe ter­rain is work, whe­re they take refu­ge. The­re they have some­thing to say. Men among them­sel­ves very often talk about work.

Men are silent

Lar­ry Crabb, a Chris­ti­an psy­cho­lo­gist, has writ­ten a book cal­led «The Silence of Men». In it he shows that Adam’s silence is at the begin­ning of all male fail­u­re. Various men por­tray­ed in the first book of Moses deli­ber­ate­ly cho­se to remain silent or to look the other way, to for­get or to turn away. And each time, they got them­sel­ves into trou­ble. For examp­le, Abram, ins­tead of trus­ting God’s plans, lis­tened to the advice of his wife Sarai and slept with his ser­vant Hagar. «And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold, the LORD hath shut me up, that I can­not bring forth. Go, I pray thee, to my hand­maid, that I may have a son by her. And Abram obey­ed the voice of Sarai. Then Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her Egyp­ti­an maid, and gave her to Abram her hus­band to wife.»(Gene­sis 16:2–3 NL). Like Adam, Abram remains silent and pas­si­ve when tal­king to his wife. But the silence still speaks today. Ish­ma­el, Hagar’s son – from who­se descen­dants the Arab peo­p­les descend – des­pi­ses Isra­el to this day.

And it goes on about the rebel­li­on of a Cain, to the impa­ti­ence of a Moses, from the weak­ness of a Peter to my own fail­u­re when I fai­led to meet my wife in love. Like you and me. Sin­ce Adam, many men feel the natu­ral urge to be quiet whe­re she should be tal­king. Many men feel most com­for­ta­ble in situa­tions whe­re they know exact­ly what to do. But if things get con­fu­sing or threa­tening, some­thing insi­de them tigh­tens up and they clo­se them­sel­ves off.

A man is on his way home from work. From six in the morning to six in the evening, not­hing but con­ver­sa­ti­ons – with col­leagues, cus­to­mers and busi­ness part­ners. Tired as he was, he could hard­ly wait to get to the peop­le he loved most – his wife and child­ren. But as he tur­ned into the dri­ve­way, his ner­ves ten­sed. In his mind’s eye he saw the child­ren wan­ting to play with him and the wife wan­ting to know how his day had been. She would give a detail­ed account of what had hap­pen­ed sin­ce he left the house in the morning. When he ent­e­red the room, his wife gree­ted him with the ques­ti­on that mil­li­ons of women ask their hus­bands every day. She asked, «How was it today?» He loo­ked her in the eye and said only one word: «Good.» He hoped that was the end of the con­ver­sa­ti­on. Immedia­te­ly he tur­ned to the mail and pre­ten­ded it was more important than the woman’s ques­ti­on. Yet she only wan­ted to share in his life and he actual­ly wan­ted to che­rish and love her.

Silence is deadly

In the ver­na­cu­lar, we speak of the Fall in this sto­ry. Sin means the brea­king of the rela­ti­ons­hip with God. The inde­pen­dent man, who is hims­elf God and does not sub­mit to Him, sins.

God had fore­told Adam: «If you eat the fruit from this tree, you must die in any case» (Gene­sis 2:17 NL). The ser­pent clai­med the oppo­si­te. Who is right? Much later, Paul loo­ks back at this sto­ry. «For if becau­se of the sin of the One, death reig­ned through the One, how much more shall tho­se who recei­ve the full­ness of grace and the gift of righ­te­ous­ness reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ?» (Romans 5:17 Lut).

The first «one» is Adam. It was never God’s inten­ti­on that man should age, beco­me weak and fee­b­le, suf­fer sick­ness and die. But becau­se of Adam’s trans­gres­si­on or silence, death sets its­elf up as the boss of this world. Very clear­ly its power is brought befo­re our eyes, espe­cial­ly in the cur­rent situa­ti­on. Not all dise­a­ses and ailm­ents are fatal, but they are mani­fes­ta­ti­ons of death. Even tired­ness, weak­ness and lack of strength, are signs and sym­ptoms of death. Even the silence of men smells of death. Ins­tead of crea­ting rela­ti­ons­hips, they are pre­ven­ted. Death is the boss. He strikes at whom, whe­re and when he wants. He does not tole­ra­te contradiction.

Thank God for the «how much more»! What Jesus, the second Adam (cf. 1 Corin­thi­ans 15:47 NGÜ) did is so much more and far grea­ter than what the first Adam did. He offers us «the full­ness of grace and the gift of righ­te­ous­ness». Tho­se who have accep­ted this gift will reign in life through Jesus Christ. He came to des­troy death and give us eter­nal life. With him we can reign more and more over all forms of death – even if we still have to suf­fer sick­ness and death.

Bles­sed to be a bles­sing. Death is no lon­ger the boss in the house of a Jesus fol­lower. Jesus Christ is! Men can beco­me a bles­sing to their envi­ron­ment by tal­king and rela­ting even in uncer­tain ter­rain. Women can rejoice in this and also be life-givers for their envi­ron­ment. The second Adam, Jesus Christ, sets com­ple­te­ly new signs in front of our ever­y­day life!

 

 

 

Possible questions for the small groups

Rea­ding the Bible text: Gene­sis 3:1–7

  1. Why did Adam behave so pas­si­ve­ly in the who­le «sna­ke scene»?
  2. Men are said to be rather quiet and reser­ved when they are on uncer­tain ground. In the pro­fes­sio­nal world, on the other hand, they are often much more com­mu­ni­ca­ti­ve. Could you con­firm this statement?
  3. What is the dif­fe­rence for ever­y­day life whe­ther death or a fol­lower through Jesus Christ is chief?
  4. For men: Does your fami­ly sen­se that you have rever­sed omens through Jesus Christ?
  5. For women: What could help the man to move bet­ter on uncer­tain terrain?