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Did you ever really mess up? Did you ever break something so that it was beyond repair? If it was a glass or a plate, it was probably not that big a deal, unless it was your mom’s favorite; an heirloom that had been passed down to her from generations past that was irreplaceable. What if what you broke a relationship? What if, in a moment of weakness, you did something that broke trust with your friend or your spouse? How do you fix things you broke? You can’t go back and undo what you did. You can’t roll back time and get a do-over.
That’s the situation Adam and Eve were in. They had broken trust with God. They had distrusted God, doubted his word, and then broke his specific command. There was nothing they could do to fix what they had done. They couldn’t go back in time and undo what they did. There were no do-overs. They deserved a lot worse than they got. They deserved to have God not just send them out of the garden, but to the fiery pit of Hell to spend eternity there with the one they chose to listen to instead of God.
As we saw last week, God was gracious. Instead of cursing them he cursed the ground. Instead of letting them eat from the tree of life, he posted Cherubim and a flaming sword to keep them from eating and living forever in a state of sin and decay. But the most gracious thing he did was give them a promise through which their relationship with him could be restored. In fact, he was so gracious that he gave them this promise even before he told them what the earthly consequences of their sin would be. He gave them something to give them hope; to keep them from despair.
God said, I will put hostility between you (Satan) and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He (the woman’s seed) will crush your head, and you will crush his heel.
Do you see the wonderful grace of God in this verse? Ask yourself who is the doer? Who is it that is going to do the things mentioned in this verse? It’s God. God is stating what he is going to do. He is not telling Adam and Eve what they have to do to fix their broken relationship with him. He states what he is going to do. This is what is going to happen whether you believe it or not. This is what is going to happen no matter how much Satan, or any person tries to keep it from happening. “I am God, and this is what I am going to do.” God is the doer.
That’s wonderful grace because that’s the only way it could ever work. There was nothing Adam and Eve could do to restore their relationship with God. If there was going to be a restored relationship, God is the one who had to take the steps to restore it.
Imagine if, instead of giving a promise that depended on him, God had made a deal with Adam and Eve. Imagine if he had told them, “I’ll give you another chance. I’ll give you another command and see if you can earn back my trust by keeping it.” They would have failed miserably! Remember what the Bible teaches? Our sinful nature makes us, made them, incapable of keeping any command perfectly. No matter how many chances God would have given them, they would have failed. So, he didn’t give them a chance. He didn’t give them a command to keep. He gave them a promise to believe.
What was it that God promised to do? He promised to make sure that there was always hostility between Satan and all the descendants of Eve, all humans. Eve had considered the serpent, and Satan speaking through him, a friend. She now realized her mistake. She would pass on to all her children the knowledge that Satan is not your friend. He is your enemy. Even the Seed of the woman, Jesus, would experience the hostility of Satan as he was tempted in the wilderness and in the garden; as he was falsely accused, beaten and spit upon by Satan’s minions.
There would be constant hostility between Satan and the descendants of Eve, all humanity. There would be great hostility between Satan and the one special seed of Woman. When this person would come on to the scene there would be an all-out battle, but the outcome would not be in doubt. This special seed would have his heal crushed. He would be wounded. But Satan’s head would be crushed. He would be completely defeated. His power and his kingdom would be destroyed. The picture from “full of eyes” does a good job of depicting this, showing the nail of the cross passing through Jesus heal, but right through the head of the serpent.
Luther points out how the vagueness of this promise worked to make Satan fearful of every child born, and at the same time inspired faith and hope in Adam and Eve and all humanity.
With every child born Satan had to wonder, “Is this the one who has come to crush my head?” Satan would have to live in constant fear, constantly looking over his shoulder. He did learn quickly who this special seed was, and he used Herod to try to kill him in infancy, but God knows all things. He knew what Satan was up to and saw to it that Jesus was protected.
With every child born, Adam and Eve had hope that this would be the one. In fact, it’s likely that’s what they thought when their first child, Cain was born and Eve said, I have gotten a man with the Lord. God said that a male child would be born who would crush Satan’s head, could this be the one? We know it wasn’t, but as children were born, and then God narrowed the promise to the family of Abraham, to the line of Judah, and then to the line of David, people were watching and hoping that the next child might be the one. Then, through Isaiah, God made it clear how special this child would be. He would truly be the seed of just a woman, the child of a virgin.
The Bible says, When the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law. The devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. He shared our humanity (he was a seed of woman) so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death that is, the devil.
Just as God promised, Jesus is the seed of a woman. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, not by a man. He was born of the Virgin Mary. As soon as he was born Satan was after him trying all he could to destroy him, or to get him to fail in his mission. He tried trickery and deception, the same tricks that worked on Adam and Eve, but Jesus resisted and remained faithful to the Father.
He tried turning all the religious leaders against him. When you are the only one who holds a belief, you are tempted to wonder how you can be right and everyone else wrong. But Jesus trusted that the only one whose opinion counted was the Fathers.
He had his minions heap unbelievable amounts lies and abuse and injustice and pain upon him. Sickness, suffering, and pain are often very effective tools that Satan tries to use to get us to think that God has forsaken us and so we give up on him. But Jesus remained faithful even in the midst of suffering. In fact, the Bible says that he learned obedience by what he suffered. His faith didn’t go without being tested. On the cross it didn’t look good. It wasn’t just Jesus’ heel that was bloody. But then Jesus cried out in a loud voice –something no one who was being crucified should have been able to do—he cried out in a loud voice it is finished!
What was it that was finished? Satan was finished. His head was crushed. His power was defeated. The war was over and won by Jesus. How do we know? Matthew told us in our Gospel lesson that at Jesus’ death, the temple curtain was torn in two from top to bottom… Tombs were opened, and many bodies of saints who had fallen asleep were raised to life.
The curtain in the temple symbolized the broken relationship between God and man. It symbolized the fact that sin separates from God. With the death of Jesus, every sin has been paid for in full. In Jesus there is no longer a separation. In Jesus we can now approach God without fear, in freedom and confidence. In Jesus our relationship with God has been restored. We can talk to him in prayer. We can listen to and rejoice in his word. We too will rise from the dead and live in his presence for all eternity.
Jesus has destroyed one of the most powerful tools of Satan, the fear of death. By crushing Satan’s head Jesus freed those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
The greatest fear in death is worrying about what comes after death. Because we know we are sinful we know that God’s law condemns us. The most terrifying thing imaginable is to think that when you die you will spend eternity separated from God in the fires of hell. But Jesus crushed Satan’s head. In Jesus we know that all our sins have been paid for in full. The curtain has been ripped in two. We are no longer separated from God. He has adopted us as his dear children. Our relationship with him has been restored and, as John says, what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when he is revealed (when Jesus comes again in glory) we will be like him, and we will see him as he really is.
Like Adam and Eve we have messed up big time. We have destroyed our relationship with God, and it shows in the imperfect relationships we have with each other. There is nothing we can do to fix it. Because we have a sinful nature, no matter how hard we try to earn God’s trust we only end up failing again and again. How thankful we are that God didn’t give us another chance. He gave us a promise, the promise that a seed of a woman would crush Satan’s head for us and destroy his power over us. That seed of a woman was Jesus. The fact that the curtain in the temple ripped in two when he died, and that he then rose again from the dead proves that God’s promise has been kept. Satan has been defeated. Your sins have been paid for in full. Death has become a sleep from which Jesus will wake you. The father has adopted you as his dear child and heir of eternal life. Don’t let anything Satan or anyone says or does distract you from this truth.