Study Guide: The Cross and The Tree

Sunday June 9, 2013 | Greg Boyd

Brief Summary:

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.

Extended Summary:

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.

Reflection Questions:

  1. How do you view the story of Adam and Eve? Does Greg’s view make sense to you?
  2. What’s the difference between separating good and evil and judging good and evil?
  3. How do you usually think about communion? Does it carry the significance for you that Greg talks about?
  4. How can you better remind yourself of not being judgmental on a daily basis?
  5. Last week, we asked if there was someone on your heart to love instead of judge. Did you have an opportunity to live that out this week? If so, how did it go? If not, what could you do different?