In the Disney version on Pinocchio there is a scene in which Jiminy Cricket teaches Pinocchio about temptation. Jiminy says to Pinocchio “the world is full of temptations”
“Temptations?” Pinocchio replies
“Yep, they are the wrong things that seem right at the time”
The Genesis story is a story about temptation.
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate.”
There are 3 things that helped tempt Eve – she reasoned the fruit was good for food, looked nice and would make her wise.
In this reading we are reading about the very beginning. The first humans, Adam and Eve, are living in the good creation of God. They are given responsibility to till and tend it. Although there is much freedom for them (“you may freely eat from any tree”), the garden also contains one boundary that restricts them.
In its original OT context, the serpent in Genesis 3 is not Satan who invades God’s creation from the outside. The serpent is a very clever and talkative animal “that the LORD God had made”. The serpent gets them to questions God’s instruction and then God’s motivation as the serpent says to the woman, “You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
At any point in the conversation, the humans could have told the serpent that he was full of it and to please go and bother someone else. They didn’t do that. Instead they doubted God’s motivations. The suspicion and desire to be self-sufficient and have it all; were somehow within the human heart from the beginning.
Another thing the story exposes about the human heart is our insecurity and shame as the humans hid from God in fear and the desire to find another to blame. Adam blames Eve and Eve blames the snake. Responsibility for their actions is not taken by either of them and shame and fear get in the way of their relationship with God.
Genesis 3 is less about “explaining” the origin of sin and more about describing the reality of what it is to be human and our mysterious human tendency to continually rebel against God, to mistrust God, to let shame separate us from God and to desire to be like God rather than thankful creatures of God.
The story exposes our short-sightedness. It highlights how we choose the wrong thing even though it seemed right at the time. One of the problems with the human condition is our ability to see. Sin could be better understood as this “blindness”. According to Julian of Norwich, sin is the “refusal of reality”, a “misperception of reality” and “a false story of God” in that it tells of God’s wrath and condemnation. So maybe sin is the inability to believe God would forgive and put it right. Sin is shame and fear and disbelief of our worth. In Christ we are freed from sin. Thank be to God.
Rev Tammy Hollands