Hearing the familiar story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, we are tempted to think of this as sin, and hearing the story at the start of Lent makes the connection to sin all the stronger in our minds.
A careful reading of this passage, however, reveals a surprise. The word ‘sin’ never appears, and there are no synonyms for sin, either in this passage or elsewhere in Genesis 2–3. By starting with 2:15, we begin to get a different sense of this story’s subject matter. Clearly this verse concentrates on the purpose for humans. This purpose is amazing. Genesis makes it clear that God intended to create people, not on a whim but for a reason.
The purpose is to look after each other and the resources that God has provided us, and ‘come back’ home in the end. And this purpose is our mission. This story of mission begins our journey through Lent. God’s mission has not changed, and in the aftermath of our stumbling, God still calls us back to the right path, every day and every Lent.
And this purpose continues with Jesus taking human form. But at first glance, Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness seems out of place. Much like the inevitability of the cross, the defeat of the devil in his encounter with Jesus is inevitable. Jesus will overcome. And although our temptations are nothing as dark as Jesus’, our lives will never be without one.
It comes to us in all manner of situations, in moments when we least expect it, and temptation wins when we give in and get caught up in the trappings of the evil one and lose sight of the very purpose of our lives on earth. Whatever form temptation may take, it may be passed through by means of trust in God to provide what is needed. The ‘tester’s’ power is real but limited. Like Jesus, we can trust in God’s Word and saving power to be victorious.
May this Lenten journey help us to be victorious and continue the mission entrusted to us.