Genesis 3, 1 – 7
Today's contributor is Nicholas King, a Jesuit priest, scholar and author who teaches the New Testament at Oxford University. For the Bible passages, he used NRSV for the Old Testment and his own translation for the New Testament readings. To read passages from the King James Version, click here.
Something to read
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God say, 'You shall not eat from any tree in the garden'?"
The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.'"
But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not 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."
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.
Something to think about
Today marks the start of Lent, the six-week journey towards Easter that Christians undertake each year. In the course of the next week, we shall be reflecting together on the idea of "Temptation".
Today's reading catches some of the elements of all those temptations (or "trials") with which we struggle: the elegant reasoning of the "serpent", which sounds good, but which we know is aimed at leading us off-course; the woman's slight readjustment of what God had actually said to the man (check out Genesis 2:17); the constant struggle of humanity to "be like God" (something that we already are, if only we knew it); our ability to rationalise our desires; and, finally, the catastrophic discovery "that they were naked".
Not all knowledge is liberating, it seems. The knowledge that really matters is that which brings us closer to who we really are.
Something to do
As you start your Lenten journey, it might be good to take a fresh look at some of the areas of your life with which you find yourself uncomfortable. Is there something in the way you live out your "God-likeness" that you know to be wrong, and for which you find yourself tempted to find not very convincing reasons? And what can you do about it, during Lent?
Something to pray
Dear God, as we set out on the journey towards Easter, we ask you to travel with us, and to help us to lay down the unnecessary burdens that we impose upon ourselves. We ask you to show us what these burdens are, to shine your light on the weak reasons that we find for clinging onto them, and to liberate us from their oppression, that we may walk more closely with you from today, and for the rest of our lives. Amen.