Genesis 3:11-13: Passing the buck.

11 And he said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree from which I commanded you not to eat?’ 12 The man said, ‘The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.’ 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The snake deceived me, and I ate.’ NIV

I’m writing this piece in a corner of a café, in Leeds General Hospital. I’m waiting for my wife, Jilly, as she undergoes an endoscopy procedure this morning. As I observe people around me, I wonder why they are here. What are their fears? What are their ailments? What will be the outcome of their tests? And so on.

When I visit a hospital – something I do all too often – I am astounded to see how rife sickness is in this world. Every single day (even the day after Boxing Day!) these places are busy, busy. I am deeply grateful that we have good hospitals with professional, caring staff. Many of them are over-stretched and under-compensated, but still they are to be found at their posts, with cheery smiles and willing hands. Thank God for them.

But this morning I am struck by the thought that the illness, pain, and concern I see around me had their origin in the garden of Eden, in the sin of Adam and Eve. But for them, I wouldn’t be here. No-one would. We have sickness in the world (and pain and death) because we have sin in the world.

Here’s another thing which can be traced back to the garden and our first parents: this terrible tendency to pass the buck. Someone said, ‘Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the serpent, and the serpent didn’t have a leg to stand on!’

The world would be a better place if more people were prepared to hold up their hands and say, ‘Yes, blame me. I’m at fault. I take full responsibility for what has happened. I’m not pointing the finger at anyone else. I’m the man! Look no further. I’m the culprit. I’m the one you want. I’m turning myself in.

Ironically, this is the beginning of healing and restoration to God. The way back begins with repentance: confessing, and forsaking sin. To ‘confess’ means ‘to speak the same thing’. It is to agree with God that you are a sinner and you have sinned in precisely the ways He has said. You’re not wriggling and squirming, but you are honestly facing up to what you have done. The grace of God means we can be so honest, because He has provided Jesus to die in our place. We know we can confess without fear of fine, imprisonment or execution, because Jesus has born our punishment. For mankind, confession is the way out of the cell and into freedom.

PRAYER: Thank you most merciful God, that there is a way back home to you – a way you have made at such cost to yourself. Thank you with all my heart.