Death Through Adam's Tree; Life Through Jesus' Tree

Text: Philippians 2:1-11

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

As we know, sin is a big deal. It has affected everything in this world as we know it. For example, because of sin, our crops do not grow as they should. Because of sin, there is conflict among mankind and people groups - lawsuits, wars, and slander, to name a few. Because of sin, our bodies and minds are poisoned as well, not working the way they should - cancer, heart attacks, and Alzheimer's, to name a few. And perhaps, the most significant trouble with sin - we have a conflict with a holy God, and death has seized all of creation. Yes, death.  

Now, take a moment, and recall Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. In the garden, Adam was told that they could eat from any tree except the tree-of-knowledge-of-Good-and-Evil. In other words, besides all the plants and trees in the garden, there were two significant trees in the middle of the garden. Like the sacrament of Communion, God gave power and significance to these trees so that their fruit could produce mental, spiritual, and physical effects upon Adam and Eve. On the one hand, the tree of life continually imparted the power unto eternal life; however, on the other hand, the tree of good and evil, well... this tree was not to be touched according to God. The reason is, eating from the tree of good and evil would introduce the germ of death into the body and soul of Adam and Eve. Indeed, disregarding God's Word and eating from the tree of good and evil would not bring forth life but the destruction of Adam and Eve - the poison of death. Eating the forbidden fruit from the forbidden tree unleashed evil into the body and soul of Adam and Eve so that they would fall victim to death. Death was the consequence of the tree of good and evil. The tree of good and evil brought forth not forgiveness, life, and salvation but shame, sin, decay, and death.

And so, ever since that dreadful day of Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit, our world has spun into the chaos of sin. The effects of sin have become the new normal for mankind. Our world is saturated with decay and death. We live in a world where we have to fight to survive. Every morning and every day, we work hard to beat back the effects of death. For example, in the morning, we brush away the smell of death in our mouths - killing bacteria and germs from the previous night. We wash away dead skin in our showers and baths. We color our hair to prevent the signs of aging. We put moisturizer on our aging hands and make-up over our deepening wrinkles. We take vitamins and medications to strengthen and prop up our aging and dying bodies. Then we go in our vehicles with seatbelts, airbags, antilock breaks, road alerts, traffic signs, and traffic lights to prevent us from dying.   And when we are at work, the majority of the jobs that we do are to sustain life - propping humanity up with electricity, heat, clothing, food, health care, waste removal, and so forth. You see, the natural course of this world is toward disorder, chaos, decay, and death, which is why we work so hard to push back against these things. Life is one constant fight against the effects of Adam and Eve's eating from the tree of good and evil.  

Considering all this, it makes sense why Jesus was born in Bethlehem. He was born into the world affected by the eating from the tree of good and evil. Jesus entered a world that had been in bondage to death. To make this perfectly clear, Jesus was born in a cave in dumpy Bethlehem, not a golden palace in Jerusalem or Rome. He came from a slave nation - Israel - not a mighty nation like Rome. He entered the human condition and lived in our world with all of its shame, sin, decay, and death.  

But here is the catch - everything in this world dies because everything in this world has the germ of death. Indeed, everything in this world is poisoned by Adam and Eve's tree resulting in shame, sin, decay, and death. But not your Jesus! Your Jesus has no shame, sin, decay, or death. He is not affected by the tree of good and evil. However, the point of Advent and Christmas is that Jesus was born into the human condition (not to float above the curse of that tree) but to willingly go to another tree - the tree of Golgotha.  

Baptized Saints, hear this clearly.  Open your ears, straighten your backs – chins up! Instead of tasting the fruit of the tree of good and evil, your Jesus tasted the fruit of death at the tree of Golgotha - His cross. You see, it is quite simple, by Adam's tasting of Eden’s tree, we have death; by Jesus' death on Golgotha’s tree, we taste life. Adam's tree strikes death; Jesus' tree gives life. Adam's tree of death was planted in a lush garden; Jesus' tree of life is planted in the graveyard of skulls.  Through the tree of good and evil, sin, shame, decay, and death were born unto you; through the tree of Golgotha, forgiveness, life, and salvation were achieved for you. 

Baptized Saints, if Jesus had not taken on flesh, He could not have been nailed to a tree, and if He was not nailed to a tree, you and I would be left damned under Adam's tree. However, Jesus put on flesh – He was born into human history because of a tree and for another tree. Jesus set aside the privileges of deity and took on human flesh so He could live a selfless, obedient life and then die a selfless, obedient death on a tree - all for you!  

Merry Christmas, Baptized Saints - your Jesus put on flesh for you! 

In the name of Jesus. Amen.  

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