Out of the depths have we cried unto Thee, O Lord. Out of the morgue, the hospital, the cemetery baptized with a thousand tears. Out of the rubble of our shattered lives, our dead children, our bitter grief and lacerated hearts.
On this day all is good again. On the sixth day, a Friday, the God who made the first Adam, recreated us all in the second Adam.
When we stand with Adam and Eve, east of Eden, looking back on the gardens we have destroyed because we couldn’t keep our hands off forbidden fruit; when we weep over lost loves, lost chances, lost lives; over and above all the sounds of shame and accusation and judgement ring these words, “With Christ I have been crucified.”
If the Lord were not a gracious God, the Bible would have been a mere six chapters long. For in Genesis 6, God stands ready to take the world he had so perfectly created, and which had so imperfectly imploded in sin, and pour it down the drain.
Two naked sinners, one a woman, one a man, retreat from the garden with breath that reeks of forbidden fruit. See them there, once perfect now flawed, leaving behind what would have been, to face what now is. The woman will scream in her birthing; the man will sweat in his toil; and together they will bury their second-born son, murdered by his brother’s hand. Welcome, O weeping sinner, to a post-perfection world. But see the hands of God, the left calloused with law, the right soft as grace, reaching out as a Father to clothe His naked fleeing children. He wraps their defiled bodies with animal skins. The beasts Adam once named are now named by God as sacrifices. For every sin there is a price, and blood is the only currency acceptable. From creator to priest, our God now moves, from forming animals to slaying them, all so that His Adam and His Eve might remain truly His. Gone are the fig leaves; present are the hides. The skins conceal the source of their shame and mark them as God’s own, bought at a price.
And so it goes in this world, with every woman, every man, every one of you, born naked in a world that has long forgotten Eden. There is only one way back, only one way back to perfection, to paradise, to God. It is a way that is marked by bone and blood, skin and flesh, spear and nail, thorn and wood.
Paradise is regained by the birth of an infant priest who is destined for the slaughter. His temple is His body, His vestments are His flesh, and the blood He will sacrifice is coursing through His veins. He knows the way back to Eden, for His are the hands that clothed the two naked sinners. And now He has come, naked from His mother’s womb to clothe her and you and all His fallen children with a robe worthy of royalty.
“It is finished,” He cries from the holy of holies, His priestly voice ringing through earth and heaven. “It is finished indeed,” His Church replies. The temple not made with hands has been entered; the mercy seat has been sprinkled; and heaven is painted red with the blood of God.
And yet He stands, upright, victorious, within the holy of holies. He stands alive forevermore, the veil rent in twain lying beneath His feet. He stands in the new and better Eden, the most holy garden, where the tree of life now grows. He stands ready to clothe you, His naked children, with His own flesh and blood, pouring His robes upon you with water from the font, dressing you with His own body as He places it on your tongue.
So eat and be clothed, all you Adams, and drink and be dressed, all you Eves. The price has been paid, Eden has been re-opened, and heaven’s angels are waiting to greet you at the gates of paradise.