The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
14 The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this… – Genesis 3:12-14a
Have you ever been stunned by the outpouring of vitriol in the face of a seemingly small offense? You fail to say thank you and someone goes off on a tirade about your insensitivity and self-centeredness. You step on her toes and she howls and moans as though you’ve cut off her arm. You offer a mild counterpoint and he explodes in expletives better left deleted in any conversation. Have you ever felt as though the punishment doesn’t fit the crime?
Perhaps Adam and Eve felt that way when God comes searching for them, and begins his questioning. “Where are you?” leads to “Have you eaten?” It now turns to “What is this that you have done?” She has no idea. Neither does Adam. They are clueless. The implications of their actions are far from being understood. They don’t know what death is. They have no clue of how far they had fallen when they took the forbidden fruit. They had no concept of the evil they had unleashed. They did not understand how they had offended God. They were unaware of the singular impact on the whole creation this seemingly small act of disobedience would have.
The impact of their sin will begin to unfold in the moments to come. But for now, we must put ourselves in the place of Adam and Eve and consider how our sin might be more severe, and the consequences much more far-reaching than we could ever imagine.
We get a hint of it in the coming judgment of God, and his curse of the serpent and of the ground, and his punishment of Adam and Eve. But to get even a remote indication of these consequences we must go to another garden (cf. John 19:41). There is a tomb there in which Jesus was laid. But before he died, he said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Too often we do not know what we are doing. Too seldom do we realize the far-reaching impact of words spoken or not spoken, acts of kindness withheld and acts of vengeance not withheld, and even thoughts embraced or not rejected. Too often we are far too worried about our own righteousness and not the impact we’ve had on another.
But when we do begin to acknowledge this, we will find a loving Savior welcoming us to sit with all the other sinners who have acknowledged their sin and received Jesus’ forgiveness. For he knows what we have done, and he has done all that is necessary to restore us to a place of honor and grace.