When God told Adam not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he made a covenant with man. But man broke this covenant in his heart. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil stands on the dividing line between two very different situations in Genesis: original innocence and human sinfulness.

But Christ’s words to the Pharisees, leading them back to the beginning, show that even though we are now tainted by sin, it is important to remember the state of original innocence. We need to compare our present sinfulness with the way God meant things to be.

When sin entered the world, God responded with a plan for redemption. The first whisper of his promise is found in the “proto-gospel” of Genesis 3:15, where God says,

“And I will put enmity

between you [the serpent] and the woman,

and between your offspring and hers;

he will crush your head,

and you will strike his heel.”

Starting with Irenaeus, Christian theologians have viewed this text as a foreshadowing of the Gospel—Jesus’ victory over Satan. From Genesis 3:15 onward, man lives in the hope of redemption.

Christ’s questioners in Matthew 19 were in need of redemption. So are we. We are all participants in the history of human sinfulness, both by the original sin we have inherited and by

the personal sins we commit. But we are also called to participate in the history of salvation—the redemption won by Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. We may be shut off from the state of original innocence, but we are open to the mystery of redemption.

In his Letter to the Romans, Paul expresses our situation this way: “We ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Rom. 8:23).

We can’t lose sight of this hope as we follow the words of Christ, which direct our attention back to the beginning.

Originally posted 2019-05-21 12:21:25.