Sermon for Lent Midweek 2, March 3, AD 2021

Genesis 1:1-3:24; Psalm 8

 This month we will be looking at the four major readings of Easter Vigil and how they relate to the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Easter Vigil service can have up to twelve readings from the Old Testament all looking at promises and events which foreshadow the coming of Jesus, especially his death and resurrection for us. We call this “salvation history,” to know how the Old and New Testaments are connected and where we fit in as Christians of the continuing New Testament before Jesus returns. We begin today at the beginning – the creation of the world, as was just read from Genesis chapters 1-3.

Now one way to sum up the message of the Bible in six words could be, “Kill the dragon, get the girl.” Now this implies that Someone is doing the work of killing and getting, and we’ll get to that, but certainly this theme comes through most clearly here in the beginning of the Bible and secondly at the end in Revelation. There’s certainly a reason for that as all things made good and innocent in the beginning will be remade and restored to perfection in the end in Christ.
Note how in the beginning God has no struggle with the dragon. The world is simply made through God’s Word, completely following God’s will. Many mythologies and other religions have a creation where one god or group of gods is fighting another, or some monster is defeated and thrown down and the world is made from it. When we think about it, evolution is not much different, everything being formed by competition, violence, and death. This is not the case with how our world is made. Our Father created the heavens and the earth out of nothing, with the Spirit hovering over the waters and the Word, the second person of the Trinity, making all things come into being. There is no one to oppose God, no one can stand in His way.
In six days God creates the heavens and the earth, the stars and planets, land and water, all the plants and animals in them. They are all good. Yet there is one creation which is above all – man. Man is very good, whom God created from the dust of the earth and breathed the breath of life into. Man is created in the image of God. He is created completely righteous. He has God’s wisdom and can relate to God. He knows, fears, loves, and trusts in God above all things. There is no separation between God and man.
Man is put over all creation to rule it, he has dominion over all other creatures. Eventually woman is created as well and man and woman are complete, a perfect complement for each other. Living on this mountain in the Garden of Eden, they work and tend God’s creation, serving him day and night, eating from the tree of Life where God graciously sustains them.
Yet there is another tree – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This tree has been set up as a test by God. It gives man the freedom to reject God and seek his own way. This is where the dragon, that ancient serpent, sets up shop. The serpent deceives the woman to want to be like God. Instead of being content with God’s image she covets greatness and takes the forbidden fruit. This was Adam’s chance. Here he had the opportunity to win – to kill the dragon and get the girl. Yet Adam listened to his wife and also took of the fruit, and on that day death came into the world. Wanting to be like God, they instead completely lost the image of God, their righteousness and connection to Him. They tried to hide and cover themselves, but there is no place they could hide where God isn’t.
On that day, when Adam could not kill the dragon, when he lost the girl, God decreed that they could no longer live in peace and freedom. Eve would strive with her husband and the bearing of children which should have given her great joy would bring great pain. Adam would have to work harder than ever. The ground would barely produce, his life would be toil and pain.
Since that time, mankind has been trying to overcome these curses. We want the dominion we used to have. We create technology which should give us control over every part of creation, We have drugs to take away pain, we can tame any animal. Using our reason, we are sure we can conquer the world and overcome the curse of Adam. We will overcome scarcity and hunger. Work will never be toil again. And then we are hit with disease, bad weather, or war. Forces we can’t control overcome everything we have built. The dragon is mightier than we.
Even if we could control everything in nature, we can’t control ourselves. Who can control his tongue from lying and slandering our neighbor? We seek to hear the worst of everyone else but ourselves. Who looks to increase the income and possessions of others first, even our enemies? Even the union of male and female is imperfect. What husband and wife perfectly love and honor each other? Our predicament seems hopeless. Even worse, to fix it we turn to those created things, people, money, the elements of this world, and try to serve them to get free. The dragon has us trapped.
But Adam and Eve were not the only ones cursed. There was a curse and promise given to the serpent as well, I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.
Adam could not kill the dragon, but the offspring of the woman would. That offspring, the one born of a virgin, is Jesus Christ. God himself, out of His compassion for lost sinners, sent His Son, the one who created the universe, to take on human flesh to save us. For to save all man, a man had to defeat the dragon. Adam and Eve sent all their descendants into the curse, into the wicked tyranny of the devil. Jesus freed them all and cast down the tyrant for good.
He did not do it by power or might. He did not like Adam and Eve grasp for the fruit to be greater, to be like God, even though He is God and has every right. He humbled himself. He held back his divine power and allowed himself to be tempted, to be mistreated, abused, and finally killed. Because of our sin, the serpent did bruise his heel. He was bruised for our iniquities.
But the serpent miscalculated. He could not overcome his curse. In bruising Jesus’ heel, he was crushed. The ancient serpent, the dragon, Satan was defeated by that same cross. For in that cross all humanity’s sin from Adam and Eve until today and beyond was paid for. All guilt was taken away as Jesus took it on himself. Satan’s power was destroyed. He no longer has claim on any of us because Christ has bought us, he has brought into His kingdom now. In killing the dragon, Jesus also got the girl.
The girl is not Eve, but the entire Christian church, the bride which Christ paid for with his own blood. For Christ did not merely die but rose from the dead, the firstborn of the resurrection. Now through baptism he brings His church into the same resurrection. We are being renewed into the image we were created to be by the holy Spirit, who calls, gathers, enlightens, and makes us holy. The image that Adam and Eve grasped for and lost, Jesus has made the way for us to become. Now we become like Him.
Our tree of life is now the tree on which Jesus hung. Our mount is not Eden but Golgotha. Our rivers are life and salvation in the blood and water which flow from Jesus’ side. The rivers which flow into our baptismal fonts and altars. So while the war has been won, and the dragon is mortally wounded, the battle still continues on earth. The dragon is sweeping his tail in his death throes to take as many with him as possible as he heads toward the lake of fire. Yet Christ gives us a new heart in baptism, he strengthens us with his body and blood to face our daily temptations, failures, and frustrations. He already has conquered for us. He has done everything to bring us into his kingdom. Our life as Christians, our growth in faith, is a growing recognition of that reality. For that is faith – to know that the dragon is already conquered, and we are Christ’s.
David writes, What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Our very creation by God, our salvation which Christ won from sin and the devil, and the continuing work of the Holy Spirit in us - each is far more than we deserve. In awe of God’s creation, more awesome is the personal love He has for each one of us. For you. Unconditionally, due to nothing you did our deserved, Our Father sent his Son to defeat the dragon for you. O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

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