Reflections: Monday of the Seventh Week after Trinity

Today’s Reading: Genesis 2:7-17

Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 17:1-19; Acts 26:1-23

The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:9)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Artwork often portrays the Tree of Life as bright and beautiful, green and full of delectable fruit, while the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is dark and ugly, scraggly, with a single poison apple attached. This is inaccurate. God called all that He made very good. Both trees were beautiful, reflecting the beauty of their Creator. Both trees were good.

If anything, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was the most beautiful and most precious of all the trees, since this tree had God’s Word attached to it. Before the Fall, God’s Word of command was received by Adam as a gift from God. “For man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Luther, in his great Genesis commentary, pictures this tree as the place of worship. Adam and his wife would have gathered at the tree. Adam would preach God’s Word about the tree, and they would worship their good God by keeping His Word—admiring the tree but leaving the fruit alone.

God’s words are good. His commands are good and beautiful and precious. Only sin makes disobedience attractive. Because of sin, the minute God tells us, “No,” we want to do it more than ever. How sad it is that the serpent tempted them, and that they were deceived and transgressed the command, plunging the world into sin and death. Now God’s commands seem burdensome rather than good. Now every forbidden fruit seems irresistible.

“To Jesus we for refuge flee, Who from the curse has set us free, And humbly worship at His throne, Saved by His grace through faith alone” (“The Law of God Is Good and Wise” LSB 579, st.6).

We flee to Jesus, the new and greater Adam, whose obedience is credited to us, and whose payment for guilt has set us free. And basking in His forgiveness and life, we learn, more and more, to love God’s Word, and even His good commands. And soon, in the resurrection of all flesh, our lives will wholly conform to God’s good and beautiful Word. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Our works cannot salvation gain; They merit only endless pain. Forgive us Lord! To Christ we flee, Who pleads for us endlessly. Have mercy, Lord! (“These Are the Holy Ten Commands” LSB 581, st.12)

-Rev. Jeffrey Ware is pastor of All Saints Lutheran Church in Charlotte, NC.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch

Christians need to aspire to being people of THE faith. Not just any will do. In Faith Misused, Dr. Alvin Schmidt shares his case for a Christian reclaiming of the word “faith” from its ambiguous modern uses. Now available from Concordia Publishing House.