When God placed Man in the Garden of Eden with the job description to tend and watch over it He issued a warning. He warned him to stay clear from that tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Why would He do that? Give a kid a room full of toys and mark one toy in particular as off limits. Tell a kid: “You may play with all those toys (and I can give you even more if you like), but this little toy over there: don’t touch it!” What is the probability that the kid will eventually reach out and touch the forbidden toy? Do the math. I’d say there’s a 100% chance the kid will at least be tempted.
So, what is up with this tree? Why does it kill us to know that good is good and evil is evil? Well, let’s think about that for a minute: didn’t Adam and Eve already know goodness? They were steeped in God’s goodness from the day they were created. The only thing they didn’t know was evil. Since they were innocent, evil made no sense to them at all. So they probably felt that they had to mingle with evil in order to understand it. The Knowledge Tree was so tempting because it appeared to be widening their horizon. Unfortunately, the opposite happened. With the consumption of the Tree’s fruit confusion set in. If anything, the Tree has dumbed us down.
God is good and so used to be all of His creation. In fact, God called His creation “very good”. However, the minute we mingled with evil we got separated from each other, and a sense of overwhelming shame set in; our mindset shifted from naked “I am who I am” to shameful “Am I good enough?”. Chapter 3 of Genesis describes Adam and Eve’s reaction (Genesis 3:7-8):
“Their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves [humans hiding from each other in shame]. When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees [humans hiding from the Lord in shame].”
If we separate roots from soil the uprooted plant will wither and die. Similarly, separation from one another brings about death of relationships – with God and with people. Even the golden rule: “Love God and love people” ultimately does not fix this issue. To solve the problem the Trinity Himself got temporarily separated – it was of course with mutual consent – and what happened is a truly wild story:
With mankind’s fall the triune God decided to send out a member of the Trinity: Jesus. Jesus came to Earth, became human and experienced death. In that moment, in this time window of history, God was separated from one another. Jesus did not die an accidental death, but a sacrificial death of atonement, which He volunteered to do, not an easy thing for Him at all. Reading the gospels we hear Jesus crying out: “Your will be done, not mine!” sweating blood over His decision. Why the blood sacrifice of Innocence walking in the flesh satisfies and repairs the damage humans did to themselves, I do not know; the question is, do we need to understand this mystery to reap the benefits of being reunited with the Father? Adam and Eve were trying to understand evil a long time ago, and it really didn’t help us to be better people. Maybe some things simply remain a mystery, and we have to learn to trust God.
When Jesus paid the death penalty of the forbidden Tree He reintroduced us back to the garden of goodness; and as Jesus was resurrected and restored to the Trinity, so believers have been resurrected and restored to everlasting communion with God.
Believe – and the effects of that deadly tree will begin to wear off. Believe – and you’ll be who you are meant to be: a spitting image of God!