What Was Prevented in Eden Took Place in Capernaum, Galilee, and on the Road to Emmaus

Below is an excerpt from Life Conquers Death: Meditations on the Garden, the Cross, and the Tree of Life by Rev. Dr. John Arnold. Full disclosure: it is one of the most beautifully written theological works I have read. Honestly.

I read this piece awhile ago, but it has stuck with me, popping into my memory on multiple occasions. This is most likely due to its narrative approach to Christian Scripture and through this method, he pulls out some points I had not thought of, especially in connection to consumer culture, immaturity, and patience. For that and more I am thankful.

Here are his words regarding Genesis 3:

For Adam and Eve did not fall through acquiring knowledge any more than we do. They fell through disobedience; and then they acquired knowledge before they were ready for it. The problem with Adam and Eve, as with us, is not that they were knowledgeable but that they were precocious. Their partial knowledge of haphazard and unrelated ‘facts’ outstripped their maturity; and they became clever before they became wise – as is shown by that picturesque little incident of the fig leaves (Genesis 3:7). They discovered their bodies, as every succeeding generation has done, with a mixture of delight and shame, before they had the personal maturity and the developed all-around relationship to enable them to cope with this astonishing revelation.

God had not placed the tree in the garden as a test or trick to keep knowledge from them forever. A God who would do that would be a tyrant and an irrational jealous ogre – not the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God was going to add to all his mercies in creation, he was going to complete them, by giving Adam and Eve the fruit of knowledge himself, when it was ripe and they were mature, so they should not only enjoy everything in the garden and each other but also know what it was they were enjoying and who was the giver of it. The tragedy is they did not trust him enough to wait. In the morning they clutched and stuffed themselves on unripe fruit, while they were adolescent, before they had even explored the garden or come to appreciate what they had been given.

That is the first act in the tragicomedy of the so-called consumer society. They did not know that God was going to come to them in the cool of the evening, not to withhold anything from them but to give them the knowledge of good and evil himself and, much more than that, to give them ‘his presence and his very self.’ Why did he come in the cool of the evening if not to speak with them and tell them stories and parables of nature and open their eyes and share their lives so that they could share his? It was, after all, just what he was prevented from doing in Eden, which he came to do later in the synagogue at Capernaum, in all the towns and villages of Galilee and on the road to Emmaus.

– John Arnold, Life Conquers Death: Meditations on the Garden, the Cross, and the Tree of Life, p. 24-25.

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