Eden's Gate (Part 1)

Part 1: The Garden of Eden (Eden's Gate)

(Why Did Jesus Leave the Graveclothes Behind?)

    When the apostle Paul summarized the gospel he preached to the Christians at Corinth, he declared; “Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-3) Note the action verbs: Died. Buried. Raised. Appeared. Let’s consider the phrase, “that He was buried.”

    On that first morning when the disciples came to the tomb where Jesus had been placed, what did they see? John gives a vivid account (20:5-7). Obviously, they saw an empty tomb for Jesus arose from the dead like He said. However, upon closer examination they saw that the Lord left the linen in which he was wrapped and the napkin that covered His face. That raises an interesting question.

    “Why did He leave the clothing behind, neatly folded?” What is the significance of that action? I will return to that question, eventually in Part 2: “The Tomb,” but in order to fully grasp the significance of that action of Jesus, we must take a journey back in time to another garden called Eden. I think we might discover a key to unlock the mystery of why Jesus left the garments behind.

    Eden. Paradise. What a beautiful place! Adam and Eve walked in the cool of the garden in blessed communion with God. All was good with the created order and Adam was man as God intended him to be, reflecting the glory of God. The spiritual part of man’s being was prominent over the physical nature. That is, Adams spirit-man was dominant over his flesh-man. Man was perfectly created and he walked in innocence but soon his physical nature would arise when he saw, was tempted to touch and taste the forbidden fruit. The sinful and soulish nature of man expressed itself in disobedience and rebellion, so now Adam’s nature is turned upside down and his flesh-man inserts itself in the place of dominance. Adam and Eve, given the opportunity to exercise their free will, chose to believe a lie and that action placed them in opposition to God. The result was a free fall from their innocent estate. God walked in the garden and called Adams name asking a rhetorical question; “Adam, where are you?” Obviously, God knew the geographical location of the corrupt couple but He wanted them to perceive their spiritual condition and see themselves as He saw them; naked, afraid and ashamed as a result of their sinful choice.

    What a sight that must have been! The couple clothed in a feeble concoction of leaves made by their own hands; they a dark shadow of their former glory. With their act of disobedience they were introduced to a host of enemies that would hunt and haunt them throughout their lives: guilt, fear, greed and shame. Those garments never wear well on anyone! They were guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors; afraid of the loving God who created and desired communion with them, so the games that men play with God began. What an absurdity, to think you can hide from God! New and decadent feelings flooded their mind and heart; fear, guilt and shame over their nakedness. Nakedness was not an issue until sin entered the equation. So, what was their clothing prior to their decision to throw an illegal party and not invite God?

    They were adorned in the Glory of God! They were dressed from birth by God Himself, and what a beautiful display of His glory! The Creator clothed them in the brightness of His holiness; hence there was no need to be ashamed because God’s glory covered them and purity surrounded them. There was neither place nor need for feelings of shame. In addition, the Creator skillfully and uniquely placed within the spirit of Adam and Eve, and hence all mankind, the capacity to reflect His image and broadcast His glory. No other part of God’s creation held that distinction! That was their purpose for being placed in earth’s environment and domain. The Glory that perfumes heaven was transferred to earth through God’s new creation, man. The purity and radiance that reflected the glory of God was not only their dress, it was their destiny. So from the beginning God’s desire and design was that mankind would be outpost of His glory positioned on earth. Earth was all they knew but it was never their final home for God placed eternity in their heart. Earth was just a temporary assignment, a place to transfer Godly glory so that all peoples could see and know the Creator in a personal way. Jesus amplified this divine design with His focused preaching and teaching on the Kingdom of God. The shinning, heavenly aurora that surrounded Adam caused the other creatures to respect his rank in the created order and be subservient. Sin changed that standing and from henceforth man’s place at the pinnacle of the created order is challenged by the animal world. Animosity and antagonism, and with them, hostility made their appearance in the world order. Adam was afraid of God and a lion.

    In fact, once sin happened, everything changed. Cosmos became chaos. The beautiful garden became a crime scene. Across the landscape of God’s stunning creation, wickedness raged as a wildfire driven by western winds on a Kansas prairie. Cemeteries, hospitals, dens of iniquity, saloons, prisons arose like a gold rush boom town. Towers were erected to reach the heavens and avoid God’s displeasure. In a single display of defiance and disobedience, sin turned out the light! The glory and the heavenly glow on Adam’s face departed. The garments, made by the hands of Adam and Eve, were grossly inadequately and seriously understated the seriousness of their crime. So the first bloodshed in the Bible was from the Hand of God. He shed the blood of an animal and clothed Adam and Eve as a means of covering their shame and purging their sins through the shedding of blood. From that moment forward in human history we have two kingdoms in conflict. The brightness of God’s holiness departed the couple and with its departure, they were burdened with shame, greed, guilt and fear. Other sins flow from these tributaries and they merge into a mighty river that separates man from God and places hostility between mankind. The created became a creature and he quickly began to act like the animals over which he was to have dominion. Since the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and likewise all mankind (Romans 5:12), man struggles and wage wars to reclaim the paradise once found in Eden and regain his place of dominion on the earth. I’m getting ahead of myself in the storyline, which I will cover in Part 2 entitled “The Tomb”, but there is only one way to reenter the garden and be reconciled with the Creator. The Story of Redemption recorded in the Old Testament is like a red thread that binds the old with the new; like an index finger pointing to the ultimate fulfillment in the person of Jesus Christ. In Part 2 we will discover God’s Way to reenter Eden and that search will bring us to the heart and soul of Holy Week.

    On Good Friday you can anticipate Part 2 entitled “The Tomb” as we journey back to the hill called Calvary. Until then, Trust Jesus and wash your hands! Ldw

(Thursday; 9April2020)     Ldw