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The Cross and The Tree

• Greg Boyd

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were tempted to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They did this because they didn’t understand that God was protecting them. In this sermon, Greg shows us how the Cross has undone the effects of this original sin and how we are to act in light of the Cross.

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Last week, we saw that love was ascribing worth to another at cost to you. We also saw that judgment was ascribing worth to you at cost to another. And we learned that anything that we do, if it is not defined by Calvary-like love, is worthless and useless in the Kingdom. This week, we’re going to take a look at one of the greatest illustrations of the Bible to learn more about judgment.

In the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam and Eve everything that they could need and told them one prohibition, “Don’t eat from the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” God was not telling Adam and Eve to be ignorant of good and evil, rather, he was prohibiting them from becoming the judge of good and evil. God knew that, if that were to happen, his children would suffer because they were not supposed to put themselves in the position that only God could hold. However, the serpent told them that they could be wise like God, and that was too great of a temptation for them.

What is tragic about this story is that Adam and Eve were already like God. They were tasked with loving God, each other, themselves, and creation with the love of God. They were the only beings in creation with that task. God knew that only an omniscient being could serve as a competent judge, and so he tasked his children with trusting his judgments and not creating their own. The prohibition from eating of the Tree was a loving “No Trespassing” sign that Adam and Eve ignored. At the center of being God’s image is trusting God’s provision and honoring God’s prohibition.

God’s original covenant with humanity was simple: Trust his provision and honor his prohibition. And we violate this original covenant whenever we judge. However, Jesus came into this world to show us a new covenant, which is simply the restoration of this original covenant. Jesus reversed the Fall. The serpent had suckered humanity into feeding off of each other with judgment instead of feeding off of God by loving. They stopped loving like God and started becoming accusers like Satan.

This is why Jesus said that he was the tree of life; the food we are to eat if we are to be whole and love like God loves. And we are to remember this covenant every time we participate in communion. Jesus’ broken body and blood reveals the worth of every person God created. Every time we partake of communion, we are to come with a renewed commitment. We agree with God that everyone has unsurpassable worth. We agree with God to never let anything detract us from seeing others that way. And we agree to see Jesus as our only source of truth and life. This is why reflect this unsurpassable worth to others and feast only on the beauty of Jesus.

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Topics: Covenant, Judgment, Love


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9 thoughts on “The Cross and The Tree

  1. Ann Thakkar says:

    This is Greg Boyd’s life message to us, the church. I can never, ever, ever hear it enough. Thank you.

  2. Peter says:

    Great message Greg! However, one aspect that some may need to be careful about is the issue of transubstantiation. This is the belief (especially held by Roman Catholics) that the bread and wine of communion actually become the body and blood of Christ.

    To most it would be evident at the time of the last supper that Jesus is speaking symbolically……that the bread and wine are bread and wine, but as He described symbolically represent His body and His blood…..leading to the greatest act of love of laying down His life as the ransom of many.

    Interestingly, that in the garden of Eden, man ate the fruit of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil…..that led to death, he can now in a similar sense eat of the tree of Life, Jesus, that leads to eternal life.

    Of course the act of taking communion is never to be taken lightly as Paul points out in 1 Cor 11:23-34 where, taking communion in an unworthy state without examining oneself, can lead to death.

  3. DMS says:

    Awesome message! Received great healing through this message, liberating, where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.

  4. Dave Pritchard says:

    “Cross-like Love” is definitely more “Irenic” than “Eristic” and our old friend “Lex Talionis”- Well…… he hasn’t got a leg to stand on! (Or an eye…..Ha!)

  5. Great message as usual, but Greg, terrible moire pattern on that striped shirt! Maybe wear a plain shirt up there?

  6. Randal says:

    Great message. We don`t hear this preached enough in churches today.

  7. Jim says:

    Regarding the reversal of the fall he talks about around 25:30, why do women still have pain in childbirth? Why do weeds still grow? Why do we have to toil for work if the fall has been reversed? Why did God create Satan and allow him into the world?

    About the only answer I’ve found as to why God created Satan is that it will ultimately bring God more glory. If that is true, why cast him into hell in the end? Why not let him run around for all eternity if it brings God more glory?

    Just some questions I can’t seem to find answers to.

  8. karen says:

    BRILLIANT!!! This sermon is bookmarked on my laptop and I listen to it at least once a week. Thank you, Pastor Greg, God bless you and your family!!

  9. Jerry says:

    After my comment on https://whchurch.org/sermon_series/animate I was in search of additional resources and landed on this sermon.

    Good stuff!

    Greg spent quite a bite of time talking about the Genesis creation story and having just finished, for a second time, John Walton’s two works on that topic I thought I would outline his alternative possibility.

    Ancient cosmology is (functional oriented ontology) believing something exists NOT by virtue of its material properties, but by virtue of its having a function in an ordered system. [Bara is not a material activity (ex nihilo) but a functional one] – [tohu bohu as nonexistence – not yet functioning in an ordered system]

    They had no category for what we call natural laws – everything was supernatural operating in terms of divine cause.

    We think of the cosmos as a machine and argue whether someone is running the machine or not while the ancient world viewed the cosmos as a kingdom.

    Genesis 1: is about the seven days of creation, as literal 24 hour days, associated with the the inauguration of the cosmic temple – its actual creation, accomplished by proclaiming:

    1: Its functions [day 1 –basis for time] * [day 2 – basis for weather] * [day 3 – basis for food]

    2: Installing its functionaries – carrying out their own functions in relation to (1, 2 and 3) as:
    [day 4 – signs, seasons, days and years] * [day 5 – creatures inhabiting cosmic space] * [day 6 – animals inhabiting terrestrial space]

    3: And most importantly becoming the place of God’s residence. [God rests (ceases, sabat) transitioning into (stability nuha) because the crisis of (non-order/chaos) has been resolved with (order/cosmos) – an ordered system with purpose.

    Genesis 2:

    God makes human beings in a quick and complete (de novo) process, not developed materially from any previously existing species but prior to Adam they did not have a personal conscious relationship.

    [Rom 5.13 sin is only charged when there is law or revelation so this human population would have been in a state of innocence (not sinlessness) since they were not yet being held accountable, even though they were in the image of God.]

    Death, the decay and dissolution of plants, animals and hominids, was the reality but God chose one pair, from the rest of early hominids, to install as cosmic temple priests for the purpose of ruling and subduing sacred space a center of order but NOT perfection. The world before the fall was a combination of order and non-order with a strategy launched to continue to bring order and the tree of life as a conditional access to an alternative to death and decay.

    Concerning Eve: this again connects with https://whchurch.org/sermon_series/animate

    Adams deep sleep (tardema) as (ekstasis) visions, trances and ecstasy preparing him for a visionary experience of woman’s ontological (functional) relation to man rather than a surgical procedure.

    The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was wisdom to be acquired by process of instruction from God over time NOT by seizing it for autonomous use creating an encroachment, a third category disorder, into the world in the process of being ordered.

    When they did this they lost access to the tree of life however: in Rev 22 “On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations” – [Nations – The wanting to be as God resulting in the hierarchical, NOT servant to one another, lording over of.]

    It is not about us.

    The cosmos is not ours to do with as we please but God’s place in which we serve as his co-regents. Our subduing and ruling are carried out in full recognition that we are caretakers. Whatever humanity does, it should be directed toward bringing order out of non-order; plus our use of the environment should not impose disorder.

    Again relating to https://whchurch.org/sermon_series/animate today’s culture is becoming increasingly more visual learners, more imagistic than in contrast scientific or analytical, in their thinking and representation.

    The Bible Project is based on this premise.

    Check out these examples, they are about 7 minutes each.

    https://bibleproject.com/ explore/video/day-of-the-lord/ https://bibleproject.com/ explore/video/heaven-and- earth/ (graphic animation)

    https://bibleproject.com/ explore/video/revelation/ (poster format)

    The Bible Project uses Greg’s book “Crucifixion of the Warrior God” as reference see: https://bibleproject.com/podcast/day-lord-question-response/ podcast

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