Sermon / Pr. Ted Giese / Sunday March 5th 2017 - / Romans 5:12-19/ Adam's Tree - Jesus' Tree - Your Tree
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday March 5th 2017: Season of Lent / Romans 5:12-19 "Adam’s Tree - Jesus’ Tree - Your Tree.”
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. St. Paul provides the bridge for us today between our Old Testament Reading and our Gospel Reading in his epistle to the Romans. His letter links it all together, in it Paul helps paint the big picture of what God is doing for us, what God has done for us and what God will do for us. Today we will look at two trees from Scripture and I hope by telling you about them this will all become clear. St. Paul in his letter puts Adam and Jesus side by side: Adam the first man and Jesus the new Adam – Adam and Jesus both have a tree, and the trees that they have at the centre of their lives are very important to us. From both of these trees we received a gift of fruit (One fruit that turns out in the eating of it to be a sour and evil poison, a soul sickness of sin, and another fruit that turns out in the eating of it to be a sweet and holy antidote, a medicine for sin sick soul.)
The First Tree: The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil
“[O]ut of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 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.”
This command was given to Adam before Eve was formed: ultimately it was Adam’s command to keep and when Eve offered him the fruit, and he took it, ultimately it was his breaking of this command that opened the door to death and brought about what we call original sin – it was the origin of sin – the first human sin. The blemish of this sin, like some sort of genetic defect passes from father and mother to child, rages through history and we all share in it – We have a hymn in our Hymnal that teaches this very thing #569 “In Adam we have all been one,” That’s the title and that’s the beginning of the opening verse: “In Adam we have all been one, one huge rebellious man; We all have fled that evening voice that sought us as we ran.” We’ve all shared in Adam’s Soul Sickness; we’ve all been infected by his original sin of eating from the forbidden fruit of the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
What insight can we gain for the living of our life from Scriptures description of the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Well first off God didn’t set Adam up to fail – God our Heavenly Father gave Adam and his wife Eve every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food; God didn’t just give him the one tree and then say don’t eat of it. Adam had choices. Thousands of trees which were all good for eating set against one tree that was not: It would be like taking a person to the grocery store and saying eat anything here you like just don’t have the orange flavored Tic Tac candies, you wouldn’t starve for lack of that one thing. God our Heavenly Father is gracious and didn’t set Adam up to fail.
Secondly; the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, quite apart from the temptation of the serpent, had it’s own allure: Eve when she looked at it discovered that the, “tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise.” Remember the tree, along with everything that was made, had been approved by God and blessed by Him – He looked at everything and behold it was very good. God made nothing that was evil for there is no evil in God. Many things in life are not inherently evil but become so when they are misused. Adam sinned not because the tree was evil but because he broke God’s command of how to live with the tree. For example many drugs if properly used can be beneficial to our health, can help cure us from illnesses, can keep us healthy but if you were to use them incorrectly against your doctors orders and prescription the same medicine which in itself is not evil could result in your serious harm and even in your death. A cheese cake has no power to cause you to gain weight unless you take and eat it – as tempting as it might be, sitting there on the table, it can not force you to eat it – it can’t by any other means naturally get into your body.
Earlier I’d mentioned that blemish of this sin of Adam eating the fruit, is like some sort of genetic defect passes from father and mother to child, by it we are all linked into that first sin – and without Jesus we would be stuck with this defective aspect of ourselves forever. Sadly this defective aspect of ourselves spills over the edges of our own lives and pours into the lives of others. Adams sin did not end with him, it spread and spilled over onto us all and on a smaller scale our sin is like that too – how often do the sins we commit end with us, they tend to spread and spill over, also hurting or effecting those closest to us. Sin is slippery, unruly and obstinate. These are the effects of Adam eating from the Tree he was forbidden to eat from. This is the fruit eaten in disobedience that became a sour and evil poison, a soul sickness of sin for us all.
The Second Tree: The Cross of Christ
We don’t often think of the cross as a tree. It was made of wood and trees are made of wood but we wouldn’t think of a wooden chair as being tree – that doesn’t make any logical sense does it? Well let’s think about it for a minute: in His death and resurrection Jesus defeats death and when you cut down a tree and build something out of the wood the wood itself is no longer alive. So it is poetic that on a Cross, made of dead wood, Jesus defeats the power of death.
This is not some sort of clever sermon illustration: the apostles and the saints speak frequently of cross as a tree. The apostles after Jesus’ ascension, after having received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, while preaching at the temple in Jerusalem, were brought before the Sadducees (who didn’t believe in the resurrection of the body) and before all the senate and council of the Jews, the apostles said to them: “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree.”
Later while preaching to the Greeks and the Romans, to the gentiles; St. Peter says: “we are witnesses of all that [Jesus] did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.”
Later still in Antioch St. Paul and Barnabas preached to the Jews and those Greeks and Romans who feared God saying: “For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize Him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning [Jesus]. And though they found in Him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have Him executed. And when they had carried out all that was written of Him, they took [Jesus] down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb. But God raised Him from the dead, and for many days [Jesus] appeared to those who had come up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now His witnesses to the people.”
St. Peter writes: “[Jesus] Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed.”
Finally we find Paul talking about the Cross as a tree once more in his Letter to the Galatians – this time linking it back to the curse of the law when he writes: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’”
Is this some sort of coincidence? No, St. Peter, St. Paul and the other apostles knew, by the power of the Holy Spirit, what they were doing: A tree was involved in the Fall, The Tree of The knowledge of God and Evil was central to Adams fall into sin. From its branches grew the fruit by which all humankind was to be cursed by sin and death, through Adams transgression, and because of the punishment received by the devil for his part, Satan still hounds us and attacks us to this day. Yet here we see that a tree was involved in our salvation, The Cross, upon which Jesus received the wages for our sin (for Adams sin), after which the resurrected Jesus would never more to be tempted by sin or the devil. From the branches of that Tree, the Cross, hung our Saviour and in the fruit of His body we now find eternal life – in His body and His blood our sins are forgiven and the antidote for the poison of sin, the medicine for our sin sick soul, is freely given to all who believe. In our baptism we are buried into the death Christ Jesus suffered on that Tree and in His resurrection we too have life eternal, and in heaven we will eat of The Tree of Life.
Your Tree in Christ Jesus: The Tree of Life
Yes The Tree of Life is ours to eat from for all of eternity; after falling into sin Adam and Eve were barred from eating of The Tree of Life but in Christ Jesus it will be ours to eat from. Yours to eat from in Christ. Jesus says in the book of Revelation, “Behold, I Am coming soon, bringing My recompense with Me, to repay everyone for what he has done. I Am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. In Adam we lost our right to The Tree of Life, we lost our right to enter the city of God by the gate but in Christ Jesus, our robes washed in His blood we gain that right back, we now can enter by the gates into the city of God and take our place in heaven. In Christ Jesus we no longer live under the shadow of the The Tree of The Knowledge of God and Evil, condemned in Adam's sin: We are instead made One in Christ Jesus and we stand free firmly under the shadow of the better Tree, The Cross of Christ, and on the last day their will be the Tree of Life. What will that be like? The Book of Revaltion gives you this picture in Revelation 22:1-2, "Then the angel showed [Saint John] the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations."
In our Gospel Reading today we heard how following His baptism in the Jordan River, “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, [Jesus] was hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But [Jesus] answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Jesus obedient refused to fall into Satan's Temptation to eat that which He was not to eat. Adam could have said the same sort of thing when he was tempted to eat from the tree, Adam too had the word of God spoken to him by God, a word that said, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 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.” Adam could have refused the fruit saying, “My true food is God’s Word of promise to me, ‘that I shall surely eat of every tree of the garden’ but not of this one.” This is what Jesus did, Jesus was obedient where Adam was disobedient, Jesus’ obedience to His Heavenly Father in every aspect of the law, His faultless obedience to the Father’s will which took Him to the Tree of the Cross spreads to you, the fruit of His Jesus’ perfect love and trust of God the Father and His Word spills over the edges of Jesus’ life and pours out onto you. His obedience in place of Adam's disobedience and sin, in place of your disobedience and sin.
For this reason you now have the fruit of Jesus’ Tree and that is the fruit of Life over Death in place of the fruit of Adam’s Tree which brought Death over Life. Just as Saint Paul says, this, “free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, [Adam's] much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness [Jesus' death on the cross, on His Tree, in Your place, in my place, in the place of sinners like you and me] leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.” Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy upon us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.”
 Genesis 2:9
 Genesis 2:15-17
 Genesis 3:6
 Genesis 1:31
 Acts 5:29-30
 Acts 10: 39-41
 Acts 13:27-31
 1Peter 2:24
 Galatians 3:13
 Revelation 22:12-14
 Matthew 4:1-4
 Genesis 2:16-17