Genesis 3:1-21, Matthew 4:1-11: Jesus Succeeds where Adam Failed

Adam, Eve, and the Serpent (610x352)Can you believe it? The serpent attacks, not through brute force, but through words. And Adam just stands there. He doesn’t say or do anything. He just stands there next to Eve as the serpent twists the truth. Did you catch that in our Old-Testament reading? After Eve tasted the forbidden fruit, she gave some to her husband “who was with her” (Genesis 3:6).

Let me ask you this? What two duties did God give Adam, even before He made a complementary counterpart for him, a companion so Adam wouldn’t be alone? Genesis tells us: “The Lord God took the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden to work it and watch over it” (Genesis 2:15). Adam was to tend the garden and watch over it, so no harm would come to anything in the garden. The Hebrew word for “watch over” is shamar, which also means to guard.

One of Adam’s duties was as a security guard to ward off intruders. Of course, a guard is only needed if such a possible threat exists. And sure enough, there was, for God would give Adam the opportunity to show and prove himself in such a task.

God gave Adam two duties to carry out, but only one not to do. Genesis also tells us that: “Do not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will die!” (Genesis 2:17).

So, now the serpent comes. We don’t know exactly what he looked like, for the word in Hebrew can be a small snake or giant sea monster. But either way, the serpent was a threat, an enemy, from which Adam was to protect everything in the garden. And God’s mandate to watch over the garden also included his wife, Eve.

So, the serpent comes. But that shouldn’t be a problem. God has prepared Adam well. For if God had told Adam to watch over and guard everything in the garden, Adam knew that such a threat could exist. And a pre-fallen Adam had no fatigue of the fallen flesh to muddy his mind, or to make him physically unable for the task.

God had earlier created the entire world through speaking it into existence. But for Adam, “the Lord God… breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). The word for breath is also the word “spirit.” The Spirit of God Himself animated Adam, which gave to him unending life, life eternal. So, Adam was armed with God’s Word and Spirit to defend against any fallen angel.

So, the serpent comes to Eve, Adam’s bride; and Adam is there, right next to her. Eve is trying to do her best against the serpent and his lies, which sound a bit like the truth. Adam has heard directly from God; Eve has heard from Adam. So, what will Adam do? Will he guard her as God has charged him to do? Will he show her how deeply he loves her and protect her. Will he step in and be the leader that God had given him to be? No, he does nothing.

Adam, lead! Guard and watch over Eve! You know what’s at stake. God said that the day you eat of it, the day you eat the forbidden fruit, you will eternally die. Do what God has called you to do. Show your bride your love and drive the serpent far from the garden. Remind Eve of what God has told you. Call the devil a damned liar; drive him from the garden. Quote God. Preach God’s Word to Eve and the serpent. At least pray and cry out to God for help. All is at stake if you don’t act.

But Adam doesn’t act. He’s unwilling to suffer for Eve. He’s unwilling, if need be, to give his life for his bride, which wouldn’t have happened since Adam was still eternal. But Adam probably didn’t know that, for, although Adam was still sinless, He wasn’t all-knowing like God. Perhaps, God was putting Adam to the test.

So, there is Adam, unwilling to open his mouth and speak God’s Word. When Adam needed backbone, he had none. When Adam needed to self-sacrifice, he feared it. Where God had called Adam to protect—and if needed, lay down his life for his bride—he did nothing. God had put Adam to the test, and he failed. When Eve needed him to act, he did nothing.

But it wasn’t only Adam who failed that day, so long ago. For when God created Eve, He created, in the Hebrew language, an ezer k’ negedo. She was to be opposite in nature of Adam, deliberately created to be someone who would complete him. Adam was incomplete without his Eve.

But contained in that Hebrew phrase is also the idea of being underneath Adam. Being underneath Adam makes sense. For God had charged Adam to watch over and guard Eve, not the other way around. But what do we find Eve doing? Where Adam had faltered in his leadership and protection, Eve stepped forward, ate the forbidden fruit, and then gave some to Adam. In doing so, Eve had taken Adam’s role for herself; she was watching over him.

So, the fall into sin wasn’t just eating the fruit. Eating the fruit exposed the sin that had already taken place. Because both Adam and Eve had already sinned, their eating of the fruit was inevitable.

Did you ever wonder why Scripture says that only men may serve as pastors? Now, that’s an unpopular topic today, and most people don’t understand why. Most pastors are too scared to touch the topic. But let’s ask this: Can women be good pastors? Of course! Based on ability, they are just as qualified as men. It has nothing to do with ability. Not having women pastors goes back to creation and the fall into sin.

Adam and Eve had switched their God-given roles that He had given them in creation. Adam let Eve watch over him, and Eve had taken to herself what God had given to Adam to do. When the Apostle Paul told Pastor Timothy that he “didn’t allow a woman to teach or assume authority over a man,” he then said why: “Adam was created first, then Eve” (1 Timothy 2:12-13). It goes back to creation, and the fall, where Adam chose to let Eve watch over him, and Eve chose to be like Adam.

When you come to Church, God gives you an object lesson. When you only see a man watching over the flock, you get a visual image of a man now forced to do what Adam failed to do. And where Eve had taken Adam’s role, we now see God forcing women not to do as Eve had done. Through that object lesson, we see our fall into sin.

Even how God designed His Church is to be an object lesson of our fall into sin—and our need for salvation! For it’s then that we see Jesus. Where Adam and Eve had failed, Jesus succeeded. Jesus, full of the love and self-sacrifice, went toe-to-toe with Satan to guard and watch over you. That’s our Gospel reading for today.

Your sin lands you in the wilderness of this world with no protection or hope of saving yourself from Satan’s twisted words. But unlike Adam, Jesus battles for you and fulfills His calling as your Protector over the evil serpent.

Watching Jesus isn’t like watching Adam. Jesus isn’t slow to speak when it comes to your salvation. His backbone is strong, as is His courage. Satan says, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become bread.” And Jesus’ response is lightning fast: “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

“So, if you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from the top of this Temple. Go ahead and put your Father’s words to the test.” But, instead, Jesus pierces Satan with sure and certain words: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”

“So, if you fall down before me and worship me, I’ll give you all this,” as Satan points to creation. He promises Jesus glory in this life. That would contradict the Father’s plan for Him to suffer, take our sin into Himself, die, be buried, and THEN enter His glory. So, Jesus can’t be silent. Where Adam was silent, Jesus speaks: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.”

Look to Jesus! He doesn’t shrink from His God-given roles like Adam had done. See how much Jesus loves you, even willing to die for His Bride, the Church, unlike Adam who was unwilling to do what was needed to save Eve.

The devil took Jesus to a high mountain to tempt Him. But then God the Father took Jesus to the mount of Calvary for His greatest test. And He passed the test. But, in Christ, it’s you who gets the perfect and flawless grade.

Well, back to pastors only being men. Male pastors do more than serve as an object lesson, pointing us to our sin. In a male pastor, we are also to see Jesus, for where Adam had failed, Jesus succeeded! And so with the eyes of faith, we see God using a male pastor as an object lesson, pointing us to our sin AND our salvation. A male pastor not only points us to Adam’s fall into sin, but also Jesus’ salvation for us!

As Satan continues to tempt you to mistrust God’s Words, hear the voice of Jesus, spoken through one who is to be an object lesson, pointing you to Christ. Jesus says: “You are forgiven. You are my Bride, baptized and covered in my righteousness.”

Now, it’s as our Epistle reading tells us.

We don’t have a High Priest [Jesus] who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses. Instead, we have one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin. So let us come confidently to the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. [Hebrews 4:14-15] [Amen.]