Oh my! Remember, we said it was Rob preaching on Sunday… you know how there is always such a LOT in his sermons! It’ll be tricky to pick and choose over our notes…
He set the scene for three different “Acts”, each in a different kind of GARDEN, hence his sermon title: “A Garden-Variety Sermon?” (True to Rob-tradition!)
Act I takes place in the Garden of Eden, where God is calling Adam by name, saying “Where are you?” Eve has tangled with the serpent–her sin was in not asking for help. When Satan asked if God had really said not to eat of the fruit, Eve added that He’d said “You shall not touch it”. The first instance of adding to God’s Word, as God had only said not to eat of it. How many have been weighed down by all the “extras” that people have put on to God’s Word! Then the serpent lied to her by talking about the fruit allowing them to be like God, since the very act of grabbing, greed for more, is contrary to the loving nature of God. Satan continues to put forth a distorted image of God today, who is neither Santa Claus nor tyrant. In fact, atheists have proved the non-existence of a god so far removed from what God is like… Maybe Adam and Eve wanted to become holy/perfect like God, but there are no quick fixes or shortcuts to holiness, rather “we’ve been called to a long obedience” (Peterson).
So, they ate of the fruit, and then had to hide behind a tree. They exchanged stewardship for self-preservation. Adam admitted he was afraid–fear dominates a life without God.
Act II is in the Garden of Gethsemene, where Jesus answers the “Where are you?” with himself. He has already stared down the devil, and replaces Adam’s disobedience with his own obedience: “Not my will, but Thine be done.” This is his offering up of himself to pay for that disobedience.
Act III is in the Garden of the Tomb, where someone else is called by name: Mary. Jesus speaks to her of “My father and your father”, because they are now in the same Family, now that Jesus has bridged the gap. Rob also spoke of the Garden of our church, because even though Mary mistook Jesus at first for the gardener, He really is our Gardener! He has come to our garden not as a threat, but as a gift; and he has created us anew. We are freed from making something of ourselves, because he has already made something of us.
Rob also referred to a future Garden, where is the River of Life and the Tree of Life, whose fruit ceases not, and whose leaves are for healing (Revelation 22). We are somewhere in between these last two gardens. The Lord walks among us saying “Where are you?” Are we cowering among the pews? Trying to stitch together robes of righteousness? Are we aboard a sinking steamliner where it’s every man for himself? (You don’t know how appropriate these words might be!) Or are we reaching out for Him?
His question “Where are you?” could be a question of judgment because of where we are, but it is also a question of grace–because He calls us by name.
The Kingdom of God is near. Repent.
(Wow, don’t think we missed much!)