By Scott Keith –
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them… And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good… But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely 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…’ I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall crush your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” – Genesis 1:27, 31; 3:4-5, 15
“How much did that cost?” I have spent a good portion of my married life asking that question. Joy and I got married very young by today’s standards, and early on, everything we purchased seemed as though it was going to break the bank; and it frequently did. But Joy likes to shop! She is good at it, perhaps the most talented shopper I have ever met.
Every time she would come home with an arm full of packages that I was sure we could not afford, I would ask, “how much did all that crap cost?” To me, everything seemed like it was too expensive. What I called “crap” she believed was a treasure. Needless to say, this has caused no little bit of occasional hardship in our marriage. But the truth is, I had simply gotten into the habit of doubting that whatever she bought was worth our hard earned money.
Recently, this little habit of mine has surfaced again. We are about to be grandparents, and the urge to splurge has hit Joy once more. So even though I hadn’t seen my friend in a while, when Joy came through the door with an armful of baby clothes, he reared his ugly head once more; “how much did all that crap cost?” And again, the little bit of hardship my mistrust is apt to produce showed up once more.
The big problem is, I tend to believe that the price is always too high. My inclination is to think that what I bring to the table, in this case my money, is worth more than most of the “crap” out there in the world. This probably unfounded belief of mine may or may not be true. But what is true is that I think we all think the price is too high.
We tend to place a high estimation not only on our own worth but also on the value of what our resources, internal and external, bring to the table. Our intelligence, caring, love, kindness, money, and capital seem like they are worth far more than anything else we can imagine. In fact, when we consider it, and if we are honest with ourselves, we can think of nothing more valuable than us.
Sure, if we are Christian, we know that we are sinners. But the truth is that we hardly believe that our sins are big enough to warrant the price that God paid. Does our simple greed merit the death of God? Do we, in fact, deep down, believe that the Son of the Almighty needed to die to save us from our desire for a bigger house and more stuff––or crap as I like to say? Even if our sins are comparatively big, like adultery or some such thing, wasn’t the death of Christ too high a price to pay for me sticking something where it didn’t belong?
Even in the case of murder, the price seems too high. Did God need to die to pay for one man, or many men’s, taking a life or lives? We are talking about God, after all, when we talk about the death of Christ. Christ is not some ethereal otherness that can’t be imagined or explained, some abstract being in a myth. Christ is God in the flesh, and He died, really died! Died, to pay the price for you and me.
I think the key to understanding why the cost was so high can be found in Genesis chapters one to three. In Genesis, we are told the story of our creation. As Luther says, “I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my limbs, my reason, and all my senses, and still preserves them.” And when God finished, He declared that we were two things: (1) the imagio Dei, or the image of God (like Him); and (2) very good!
Then along comes the snake, the serpent, the deceiver. He is made of lies. His job is to lie. So, he sets about to lying, telling Eve that she is not in fact what God has said she is by His own declaration; very good and already like Him. So Eve sins, the first sin, and the one sin upon which every other sin relies. That is, Eve trusts the lie of the serpent and her own memory and desire rather than the Word of God.
Eve begins to think that she is in fact not like God and believes that the only way to rectify this oversight on God’s part is to fix it herself. And since the only plan before her is that laid out for her by the king of lies, she opts for the plan of the deceiver rather than trusting in the Word of God. She eats, and shares, and together, Adam and Even then discover that they are no longer just like God. They discover that their sins are, and will always be, founded on lies. And so is ours!
Every single decision we make, every action on our part, is bent on proving that the snake was right. That is, everything we do is an attempt to prove we can make ourselves like God. In our sin, we believe that if we keep eating the forbidden fruit, we will be like God. The last thing we want to believe is that it took the death of God to set His original declaration––“you are like me and you are very good”––right again.
The truth is that God did not send His son to die to save us merely from our “baby sins,” as Luther would say. Rather God sent the Messiah because His original declaration––“you are like me and very good”––needed restoration. The Word that is Christ is the only means to our restoration. It is by the declaration of His Word that He made us right again. It is by the declaration of His Word that we are called His image and very good. Thus God lays out the necessary plan, “he shall crush your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” It is by Christ paying the ultimate price, the eternal cost, that He sets us right again. Now, on account of Christ, when God gazes upon those who believe on His Name, He again declares, “they are like me and they are very good.”
By our measuring, the cost is always too high. But our measuring has been corrupted by the lies of the deceiver. Thus, we cry out with the Apostle Paul: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25a) How much did that cost? It cost the death of His Son; enough to save you and me.