Today's Reading: Genesis 2:7-17
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat;but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." (Genesis 2:16-17)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. God doesn't give us bad stuff. His gifts are always good. And the Lord doesn't make bad stuff, either. Everything He makes is good. So, why, why, WHY did He put that tree in the Garden of Eden? Why did He put that Tree of Knowledge where He knew that Adam and Eve would eat from it? Why would He make something and tell them they couldn't have it?
The answer is simple. Even before the Fall into sin, Adam and Eve were to learn that “man does not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4). God gave to Adam and Eve EVERY thing on the earth. But the most important gift and treasure He gave them was His Word, which protected them from death, which gave them life, which they promptly abandoned and so fell into sin!
Jesus is the Father's good gift. Not to harm us. Not to destroy or smite us, but to save us--to give us life. There are lots of “Jesuses” out there. Most of them are pretty scary. Most of them are watching to see if you behave. But the real Jesus is the Father's gift. He comes to carry our sins because we are sinful. He comes to be blamed for what we've done. He comes to do the good works and keep the Law of God we don't do and don't keep. It's the gift of a saving tree--the cross. Jesus comes not to condemn but to give life. (John 3:17).
Jesus gives you your Baptism. He absolves your sins. He preaches the Gospel to you. He feeds you with His body and blood. Everything God has for you, He has for you in Jesus. Good gifts. Gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation. Gifts of the Spirit. Gifts that rescue and deliver us from the Evil One. Despise those gifts as Adam and Eve did, and, well, the Lord will still have gifts for you! That's what He does. That's the kind of Jesus He is. He never stops giving you good things. Not because you deserve them, but because He delights in giving them to you. Call it mercy. Call it grace. With His gifts, God calls you His own. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
What mercy God showed to our race, A plan of rescue by His grace: In sending One from woman's seed, The One to fill our greatest need—For on the tree uplifted high His only Son for sin would die, Would drink the cup of scorn and dread To crush the Ancient Serpent's head! (LSB 561:3)