As a child I had a fear of water. Not a terrible phobia, but I definitely hated swim lessons. My mother tried everything to get me in the pool; she “paid good money for those lessons.” She would offer candy, extra play time, the option of choosing dinner, etc. just so that I would stick my face in the water when the insane instructor asked me to do that.
There is one other bit of information you should know, is that I have a younger brother. He is the most outgoing person you will ever have the pleasure of meeting. He also has no fear of swimming pools or the instructors who frequent those waters.
One summer my mother, tired of paying public pool prices for a son who refused to participate, took us to a family friend’s house for our annual swim lessons. This wasn’t terrible since no one was forcing me to put my face under water. Their pool also had a sweet diving board where, assuming you jumped correctly, the instructor would catch you and keep your face dry.
On one particular morning, we were working on swimming from the middle of the pool to the edge. We had to jump from the board to the instructor who would catch us and then place us in the correct posture to swim to safety. As the older brother, it was my duty to go first and demonstrate the proper form to the hooligan who was my brother.
A problem arose however, when coming to the edge of the board I remembered that I hated water. My brother, who is also known to hate waiting in line, took it upon himself to provide me assistance with jumping into the pool. He ran up and pushed me off the board right into the deep end of the pool!
As I dropped like ton of stones into the seemingly bottomless pool, a hand of salvation came plunging in after me. To my relief the instructor, whom to this point was the bane of my existence, rescued me from certain death. The person who was the image of my hatred had become the only thing that saved me that day. Coincidentally, my brother was punished for his attempted murder with 5 minutes in time out.
As I reflect on this story I’m reminded of a similar situation of self-reliance that had catastrophic results. In Genesis 3, the glorious and perfected life established in the first two chapters comes crashing down.
In Genesis 2, Adam is placed in the garden with the option of eating from any fruit tree but one. The consequence of straying from this command was certain death. Adam then receives a helpmate to whom he relays this one command. The only stipulation to eternal life is obedience to the command God had given.
In chapter 3 however, we see that command being broken. As Eve coveted the knowledge and sustenance that the forbidden fruit had to offer, she took and ate. She then gave to her husband who also ate. Immediately, both of them were made aware of their actions and were ashamed. They heard God coming and hid from their punishment.
It’s prudent to pause the story here for a second. A presupposition necessary to understanding this story is the knowledge of several attributes that compose God’s character. God is completely holy, just, righteous, and good. Because these attributed comprise his character he will not contradict them. Additionally, the punishment for disobeying God as stated in Genesis chapter 2 was death. We also see in Romans 6:23 that the price of any sin is always death.
As we continue with Genesis we see that when confronted, Adam and Eve attempt to skirt their sin by passing the blame around. However, because God is always just, punishment must be doled out.
God pronounces curses on all parties involved. To the betrayer, he is cursed to crawl on the ground until the day that the seed of the woman will crush his head (Gen. 3:14-15). (This is the first prophecy of Jesus Christ). To the woman, she will have increased pain in childbirth (Gen 3:16). However, her salvation will come through childbirth (again, a reference to Jesus). Finally, the man will toil mightily as continues in his God ordained role to work the earth and keep it (Gen. 3:17-19).
What is not written however, is the consequence of immediate death which was stated in as the consequence in chapter 2. Instead, God provided protection to Adam rather than taking his life. Remember though, the sin always results in death. As a consequence of Adam’s sin, death entered the world. God provided skins as a covering for both Adam and Eve at the expense of the life of an animal.
Because of their perceived notions of self-reliance, Adam and Eve had to pay the consequences. They were cast out of the garden to toil for the rest of their days ultimately resulting in death. There is good news however. Though sin always deserves death, Jesus Christ paid that price.
Jesus lived a life which perfectly fulfilled all of God’s commands. Because he never sinned, he never deserved to die. The only reason for death is as a payment for sin. However, Jesus willingly choose to sacrifice his own life as a payment for all who believe in his work and choose to live according to his commands. The validation of this payment is seen in Christ’s resurrection from the dead.
Though he was scorned while he was on earth, he is the only thing that can save a drowning humanity. Apart from Jesus, there is no path to salvation. Just as I couldn’t save myself from the pool, there is no way I can save myself from death and judgment. It is only through the grace provided through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus that I may be reconciled to God forever.