Risen Savior Lutheran Church background

The Gracious God calls, ‘Where are you?’

a sermon preach at Risen Savior for Lent 1 based on Genesis 3:1-15

Playing hide and seek with young kids is great.  Especially when they’re the ones hiding.  Because they’ll hide in the most obvious spots.  Behind a potted plant.  Around the side of the couch and you can see their back.  Behind a curtain with their feet sticking out.  What’s important for the one trying to find them is to make the game last.  Poke around in places they clearly aren’t.  Call out, “I wonder where they could be.”  Have fun with it, probably until the kid starts giggling.

That kind of hide and seek game is fun.  What Adam and Eve were doing with God was not.  It was more like a scared kid who definitely did something wrong hiding in their bedroom.  Adam and Eve were real people who really were created perfect.  They faced a real temptation and it hadn’t gone well.  Among the trees in the Garden of Eden, where they lived as the first two created human beings, they tried to hide from God.  God didn’t let happen.  He went after them and he comes after us.

The Gracious God calls ‘where are you’

He calls so we can find him

He calls to enable us to come

Helpful to the story in the first lesson is remembering the snake wasn’t just a snake.  This wasn’t a story to explain why many human beings, including me, are terrified of snakes.  That snake was Satan.  God’s enemy, who rebelled against God and was cast out of heaven.  Since he was condemned, Satan decided to try and take as many of God’s created beings with him.  That’s what had him there, in the garden, on that day talking with Eve.

Satan’s attack was subtle, clever.  He didn’t tell outright lies.  Just twisted things so Eve had to think.  “Has God really said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?”  See what he did?  God told them they could eat from any tree.  But Satan got Eve questioning God’s words.  Eve did good to come up with the answer.  She responded back with what God said.  Every tree was actually for them to enjoy.  They could eat whatever fruit off any of the many trees in the garden surrounding them.  Just walk over and eat.  Enjoy sitting under the branches.  Relax and take in the wonder of the creation God had given them with all its colors, shapes, and creativity.  Every single tree was theirs to enjoy.  Save one.  But that wasn’t a problem.  Adam and Eve were perfect.  That meant when God said don’t eat from just that one tree, no problem.  Won’t even touch it.  Won’t get near it.  That wouldn’t leave them wanting.  They had everything.  God had been so gracious.  He loved them, wanted what was best for them.  They trusted him.

Things started to go bad the more Satan and Eve conversed.  “You certainly will not die.  In fact, God knows that the day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  That was the one blatant lie.  Satan was trying to tell them God was holding out.  That God had known for some time that this one fruit he said they couldn’t eat would make them more like him.  Somewhere deep inside Eve started looking at the tree and its fruit.  Stopped avoiding it, started desiring it.  Thinking it was good for food.  In a world altering instant, perfection was replaced with sin.  Sin started taking everything from her and her husband with her.  They were sinners.  Separated from God.  Their relationship with him died.  Satan was their friend.  They tried to hide, because they viewed God as the enemy now.

That monumental change in Adam and Eve never happened for us.  They sinned against better knowledge, an active act of disobedience.  We don’t know any other way.  Sin is our nature.  But the reaction to sin is the same.  We try and hide from God.  We actually commit sins in the dark because we think abusing alcohol under the cover of darkness won’t get noticed.  Or we put people down in the darkness of our hearts.  No one knows those thoughts because we haven’t said them.  Somehow that’s better?  The lustful thoughts we have.  The lies we tell ourselves and leave in our minds.  We sin by ourselves, with no one else around.  Our half hearted apologies, “I’m sorry you feel that way.”  That’s not apologizing for the sin, but the way someone reacted.  Adam and Eve’s reaction that day was just the beginning of the hiding you and I do all day every day.  We’re trying to protect ourselves from God’s just punishment.  Broken commands deserve punishment.  God told us not to and we did.  He told us to do something and we didn’t.  In trying to protect ourselves we use our own feeble efforts.  We hide from God.  Like that will work.

“The Lord God called…’Where are you?’”  The all-knowing God knows exactly where you are.  He knows what you’re hiding and why you’re trying to hide.  But instead of walking away from your disobedience, and with no real reason to come after you, he does.  You hid.  God in love took the first step towards you.  He found you.  Kept seeking till he did.  He found you so you could find him.  That you could find a God of such love, that he would be willing to show you your sins.  Not accept your feeble attempts to make it right.  God’s love lets you know just how bad your sins are.  So he can give healing.

The questioning session God put Adam and Eve through couldn’t have been pleasant.  Sin had just entered their lives for the first time.  It was all new experiences, and not good ones.  God started with Adam.  “The woman you gave to be with me—she gave me fruit from the tree…”  Oh Adam.  He was no longer standing behind the trees, but basically he was still trying to.  Pass the blame.  Avoid God’s punishment.  At one time Adam had poetically called Eve “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh”.  Now she was the threat.  Eve didn’t do much better.  She could have pointed at her husband.  That might have been legitimate since he was the husband, the one who should have stopped her.  Eve zeroes in on a different target.  The snake.  Yes, that evil monster.  He deceived her.  She was trying to avoid God’s punishment just as much.  Both really pointed their finger of blame at God.  God didn’t let the excuses and blame passing fly.  God didn’t stop till both Adam and Eve said what actually happened.  Admit it.  Face the truth.  “I ate it.” 

We recognize in Adam and Eve a favorite method of ours for trying to avoid God’s punishment.  It sounded just like I have.  My parents asked, “Why did you push your sister?”  “Well she was making fun of me.  She was being annoying.  I didn’t push her.  I just nudged her.  I didn’t do it.  She pushed me first.”  Kids try and hide to escape punishment.  Adults do too.  Stop taking calls till the situation blows over.  Fake getting sick.  Avoid going outside to not run into a neighbor.  But it’s time.  My parents did it.  God does it with you.  No excuses.  No passing the blame.  Admit it.  Face the truth.  I did it.

God has the answer.  He’ll fix this.  His response was the first gospel promise.  It starts with addressing hostility.  As a sinner, you didn’t want anything to do with God and he didn’t want anything to do with you.  But because he loves, God puts hostility back in the right place.  “I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed.”  Forever those who follow Satan, unbelievers, would be different than those who follow Eve.  Her seed would be believers.  Those that trusted in God to set things right.  Those that trusted in God to do what he was promising. 

What God was promising, Jesus carried out in the desert.  Jesus faced temptations from Satan, same as Adam and Eve.  They messed up and hid.  Jesus met every temptation with the Word of God.  He battled the same foe.  Not just in the garden but all through his life.  Jesus remained perfect in the desert, faced the temptations of Satan.  And had no reason to hide from God.  Where Adam and Eve brought sin into the world, Jesus brought defeat of Satan.  “He will crush your head, and you will crush his heel.”  Satan got in a blow, Jesus died.  Got crushed on the cross.  But God turned that crushing into the very thing that crushed Satan’s head.  And all your sins, your excuses and denials, your feeble attempts to avoid God’s punishment, Jesus took it all.  He came calling you.  To enable you to believe in the promises.  To enable you to trust in God to save you.  Jesus enables you to look forward to victory.

Everyone has a good laugh at the end of a game of hide and seek with a young child.  No one was laughing when God found Adam and Eve.  Yet God wasn’t coming to find them and attack them or kill them.  He came to find them so they could find him.  In love God finds you so you can find him.  And God finds you and comes to you so you are enabled to believe in him.  Trust in Jesus.  Trust the victory is won.  Know God’s gracious call, where are you.