The devil’s first sin took place in heaven before the very throne of God -and he was cast out.
God made a garden in Eden and the garden was a temple. Knowing there was an enemy to watch out for, God planted a thorny hedge around the perimeter of the garden-temple. Then He made Adam. He put Adam to sleep – like death but not death; and He made a wound in Adam’s side, near to his heart – to make Eve, the bride; flesh of his flesh, bone of his bone.
So Adam awoke to find himself made a bridegroom by the wounding of his side.[The Second Adam would receive a wound in His side for His brdie too] They lived in the temple together; he as bridegroom and going-to-be-priest and she as the bride and going-to-be-mother. At least that was the plan. God provided them with all the food they would need. There were two special fruit trees in the centre of the garden; the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Now God commanded Adam to guard his garden and told them both that they could eat of any tree in the garden, all the food He had given them – but not from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The fruit of that tree should not even be touched. Why not? Because, God explained, they would “die the death.”
Just how dead can you get?
Well, they soon found out.
Satan got into the garden. He got through the hedge and made it right to the centre of the garden-temple, and there at the Tree of Knowledge he confronted the Bride and Groom. He began by using just a smattering of truth to put them at ease. But once things were going his way, he simply lied. “You wont die,” he said – saying God lied, “You will be like gods.” The terrible irony of this is that God was to make them like gods anyway; they were already made in His image and likeness. But they forgot all that and Adam did nothing to prevent his bride reaching out for the fruit. He failed in his priesthood to make the sacrifice for the life of his bride.
So they ate the fruit and…..apparently lived. Just how dead were they?
First of all, and most seriously, they had spiritually killed themselves. Heaven was now shut to them. They were left with sheol (place of the dead) and hell (Gehenna- the place of the even deader). Something horrible had happened to their bodies as well. They sewed fig leaves and we all know what those leaves had to cover – everything to do with the life giving aspects of being a bride and groom. Something in procreation – that is man’s cooperation with the creation of new persons in His image and likeness- was damaged or dead.
And so they were sent from the garden-temple. Having eaten the poison all food would be more difficult to come by and they would have to kill animals and eat them too.
Finally along comes the Second Adam, the new Bridegroom and He goes out into the desert – no garden here. He fasts – no food here either. Then the devil comes along and just like in the garden he uses a bit of truth to lie – he quotes Scripture. He uses the Word of God to tempt the Word Incarnate. He begins with a straight forward “turn stones to bread.” He is speaking to the Bread of Life- the Lamb of God and Jesus answers from Scripture, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that comes from the mouth of God.”
So, not live- is dead. Bread alone wont save us from being very dead. If we want to live- to be very alive to have “life abundantly” as Saint John wrote, then we have to eat the fruit of the Tree of Life for that fruit IS the Word of God.
If we go to receive the Word in a state of Grace then we will have life in us, a life that will teach us right from wrong as it is truly because He is Truth. We cannot then make up our own version of knowing what we would like to be good and what we would like to be evil.
But the devil isn’t done. This is not the holy place, even if he is facing the Bridegroom. So he takes him to the Temple and again Jesus resists him.
Finally there is an apparently absurd temptation of earthly power to the very Word that caused it all to come into existance. It is another temptation to “bread alone.” It was a moment where Jesus was faced with the temptation to be the messiah they wanted him to be; the one who fed 5000 with bread and fish- but who would never have give the discourse in John 6 telling those same people “Eat My body,” and “drink My blood” – and have to stand there while so many of them walked away.
They just wanted bread you see. With their bellies full, they were no longer interested in the Truth.
Jesus sent satan away – and He never called back those who chose to walk away. Long before this moment God spoke “I place before you life and death; choose life therefore.”
Lent is a time to choose life. Those ashes remind us of the very deadness we have been choosing and gives us a nudge or even a good kick, back up onto the straight and narrow.
And Adam and Eve? They had to wait for the Second Adam to be the priest and make the sacrifice, receiving the wound in His ribs and heart to save His bride-and then Heaven could be opened for death was overcome.
Traditional paintings of the Harrowing of Hell always show Adam and Eve being taken from death to Heaven. So we too can have hope.