Several years ago, in a garden not far from here, a story of redemption played out. As is the case with any compelling tale, there is an unlikely hero caught in a difficult compromise. Light and dark are at odds, and in this instance, a man is asked to pay the ultimate price.
Eve handed her husband his lunch and kissed him good-bye as he left for work, promising to stop by mid-afternoon to see how his project was progressing.
She was proud of him. He managed God’s garden—Eden—and had direct responsibility for naming the creation of God’s imaginative genius, a testimony in and of itself to the creative intellect of her man. Besides his intelligence, she was totally taken with his killer good looks and one-of-a-kind swagger. No doubt about it: He was his Father’s son.
Well, enough of this pining away watching Adam traipse off to the office, she had things to do herself if she was going to make it in time for his afternoon break. As far as Eve was concerned, life was nothing short of a joy. In fact, had she had anything else to judge it against, she would have said it was perfect. And that it was. It was Eden and she and Adam were innocent.
About three o’clock Eve freshened her face and ran her fingers through her rich hair. She batted her eyelashes a few times and pinched her cheeks. A circuitous walk through the garden would relax her and time her arrival just about right for her rendezvous with Adam.
“Well, hell-o-o there. You are walking with a spring in your step today Ms. Eve. Is it the usual?”
“Yes. I’m joining Adam for an afternoon break. It’s one of our traditions. Excuse me, but I don’t know that I have had the pleasure of making your acquaintance.”
“Oh, pardon me please. My name is Lu. Actually, that is not my full name, but that is neither here nor there because I prefer to go by Lucky. You’ve got to admit it has a ring to it: Lucky Lu.
“But say, I’ve been wondering about a rumor going around and you are just the person who can answer my question. Is it true God said you and Adam could not eat fruit from any of the trees in this lovely garden?”
“Oh my, no! Why, that would be completely unreasonable. Who in the world would start such a vile rumor accusing Him of such a thoughtless standard? What He said was we may eat fruit from any tree in the garden except the tree growing in the center of Eden. As a matter of fact, we are not even to touch that tree.”
“And why in the world would He not want you to touch that tree or eat its fruit? What could possibly be wrong with so lush a tree as that one?”
Answering as if surprised that Lu didn’t know the answer himself, Eve blurted outright, “We will die!”
Lu rolled his eyes and chuckled. “Oh. I get it now: The old don’t-eat-from-this-tree-or-you’ll-die myth. It is a prevarication, sister. An equivocation, a fabrication, a misrepresentation. My soul girl, don’t look so dumbfounded. It’s a fib, a whopper. A white lie, if you will.
“God is concocting this death routine so that you will remain in the dark.
“Look. It is common knowledge that if you eat the fruit from the center-of-the-garden tree your eyes will be opened and you will be like God Himself. Now, last time I checked, that would be a good thing. The very nuances differentiating right from wrong will be opened wide for you to see. Another good thing when you think about it. Listen, this is not a choice of life and death as you have been told, but one of enlightenment versus elementary ignorance. I mean, look for yourself, lady. The tree has the best fruit in the garden hanging from its branches.”
And with Lu’s persuasion, Eve made a critical decision, choosing to believe Lu rather than believe God, whom she was having some doubts about anyway after talking with Lu. It did seem a bit arrogant to keep such a wonderful tree all to yourself by profligating a self-serving sham. Besides, she was half way through her second piece of fruit and wasn’t dead yet. In fact, she was feeling just fine.
Anxious to share her enlightening conversation and life-altering discovery with Adam, Eve bid Lu good-bye, and having spent longer than she had intended talking with him, she set off on a direct course for where Adam was busy naming animals and the like. She carried with her a sample of the lush, center-tree fruit to share with her man.
“Hey, Babe!” Adam heard her coming before he saw her. She was a breath-taking beauty and the pride of his life. There wasn’t anything he would not do for her.
“Adam! Look what I’ve got.” She showcased her treasure above her head and waved simultaneously. “You will not believe it. You will not believe it.”
“Won’t believe what?” he asked.
“I met the most wonderful creature—really pretty too—who straightened me out about that tree in the center of the garden. You know the one. The one we are not supposed to eat from because we might die. Well, look at me! I’ve eaten two pieces of its fruit already—Lucky Lu said it would be okay—and I haven’t died. In fact, Lu said I wouldn’t be in the dark anymore.”
“Who is Lucky Lu, and you’ve eaten how many pieces of fruit?”
“Two. And he’s the smartest person. A real straight-shooter. Cuts right through all of the divine mumbo-jumbo and puts the conversation in terms I can understand. Eat this and let me tell you about our talk.”
“Tell you what, Sweetheart. Why don’t you hang onto that and let’s go sit down and talk this over.”
Adam and Eve talked for a couple of hours about miscellaneous topics, returning with some regularity to Eve’s decision to eat the fruit from the forbidden tree. With each offer of the fruit from Eve, Adam thanked her and declined.
As was His custom, God came walking through the garden in the cool of the evening. Even though He knew where Adam and Eve were, He still liked to call for them. The sound of their names escaping His lips made His fatherly heart proud. The universe was His and all it contained, but the highlight of His day was hanging out with Adam and Eve in Eden.
“Adam. Eve. Adam. Eve.”
Sitting on a rock not far from Adam’s “office,” Adam and Eve were still engaged in their conversation when their Father’s voice made its way to their ears. Adam jumped to his feet, anxious to see God. Eve bailed over their sitting rock backwards and headed for tall timber. Confused, but undeterred, Adam called out to God, “Over here, by the sitting rock.”
Their reunion was grand, as always, and God’s first question was predictable: “Where’s Eve?”
Adam wasn’t much help, other than pointing in the general direction he’d last seen Eve running and offer a shrug. But God didn’t really need any help to find her. They walked a short distance and stopped a respectable distance from where Eve had hidden herself in a thicket.
His voice was compassionate, but strong and forceful. It was evident He meant business. “Eve. Have you eaten from the tree I warned you not to touch?”
God got neither a yes or a no, only the run-around. “Lu, the serpent, deceived me and I ate the fruit.”
Knowing he would be called anyway to account for himself, the serpent presented himself close by, received God’s scathing curse, and slithered in the opposite direction of Eve’s vengeful eyes.
And then God addressed Eve: “I am a person of my word and the consequence of failing to follow my command regarding the center-of-the-garden tree was clear right from the start. Eve, I hate to do it, but the choice was yours. We had a wonderful thing going and many great times I will treasure: walking through the garden, talking during the cool of the evening. But Eve, you must bear responsibility for your transgression. My pronouncement of death is as follows….
But as God was taking in a deep breath to make the dreaded declaration, Adam touched his Father’s arm—forcefully enough to gain eye contact with His Maker as He turned toward the touch of the man. Adam stood up straight and set his jaw, squared his shoulders and spoke deliberately. “Father, I will readily submit to Your will in this situation, but if it would be suitable to You, I would like to take Eve’s place. Please Father, let me die in her stead so she may live and walk with You in the garden during the cool of the evening. I offer myself as her redemption.”
And if you are like me, this feels more like the way the story should have ended instead of with the curses that conclude the way it actually occurred.
Somewhere in chapters two and three of Genesis, Adam had an opportunity to become a vehicle of redemption for his wife; to protect her and provide for her; to act as a warrior by laying down his life so she could live. But instead he ate the fruit along with her. He acted without honor. He caved in when his wife was at her greatest point of need, and so came to an ignominious end and passed along to mankind the shame of his failure. Unless someone reestablishes the security of men the honor of masculinity will remain elusive and men will forever struggle to equate the esteem of a warrior with manhood and honor with masculinity.
Several thousand years after Adam’s failure in the garden, the Bible recounts a sequel to the story. The hero is called “the last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45). And like the first Adam, He had a bride who willfully declared her independence from God’s will and as a result had a divine pronouncement of death against her. The decision was not easy, but in a garden outside of Jerusalem—far from the perfection of Eden—the last Adam wrestled and fought and sweat great drops of blood anguishing over whether to offer Himself as a vehicle of redemption on behalf of His doomed bride.
The decision He made changed the course of history, altered the state of the universe, gained life for His terminal bride, and made relationship with God viable. By offering Himself as an instrument of redemption, His bride could once again walk and talk with God in the cool of the evening.
Whereas the first Adam created a burden of shame, Jesus Christ—the last Adam—demonstrated the confidence of courage and reestablished the honor of masculinity. It is Jesus Christ who indwells us. It is the Spirit of God who empowers us.
Brothers: Due to the accomplishments of the last Adam, we can become instruments of redemption. We can reclaim our lost courage, make our hearts transparently vulnerable, and recapture the honor of manhood.
It is His intention to train your masculine, warrior’s heart for knighthood. Through His redemption the stage is set for you to be a person of redemption. As He pours His life into you and you rely upon His strength through you, His healing hands will mend your broken male image and reclaim the honor of your manhood.
For more on how masculinity is portrayed, I suggest you consider Battle for the Round Tower.