Sunday, March 13, 2011

“Lost in the Garden, BUT Found by the Gardener!” (Genesis 3:8-9).

S-1238 FSIL/3A 03/13/11, (O) #658; (S) LSB #744; LS #522; #200; #383; (C) #649

Text: Genesis 3:1-21; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11

Theme: “Lost in the Garden, BUT Found by the Gardener!” (Genesis 3:8-9).

Question: “Have you ever lost something valuable?”1st in Sermon series Lost and Found


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! The text for our First Sunday in Lent is from the OT Lesson: “And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the Garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the Garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” (Genesis 3:8-9).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

You who are the most treasured possession in the sight of the Lord, Jesus the Lamb of God, consider all the places where the “lost and found” items are gathered: school, church, gym, work, and convention hall. Having been lost they are gathered. Sometimes when we go looking for our items they are there and sometimes are not. When we find our lost item we are elated and joyful. But when our item is lost we are saddened and disappointed.

But what happens when Man is lost, who seeks him? Who will go looking for lost man? Where will they look for the man who is lost? The answer to these questions and many others are found in the greatest book ever written—God’s Holy Book—the Bible. In this love letter we hear such comforting and wonderful promises. The prophet Ezekiel tells of God’s grace saying: “I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak.” (Ezk. 34:4). Dr. Luke paints the most vivid picture of Jesus looking for the LOST, by giving us the parable, of the lost coin, lost sheep and lost son (Lk.15). And again we are told: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost (Lk. 19:10).

But nowhere do we see God searching for lost man as is in our reading this morning. Listen again to Moses please. “And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the Garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the Garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” Here you see God Himself intervening to save lost humanity from the eternal damnation of hell and death.

From this we learn that it is God who goes looking for the lost. God is the One who relentlessly pursues the lost. God looks everywhere for His lost, beloved creation. God loves His creatures the ones made in His image and seeks them out before they destroy their lives by eating from the Tree of Life. God gets involved in the act of seeking and saving that which is so precious to Him—Adam and Eve and you and me.

Here you behold the Gardener looking among the trees and bushes for lost Adam and Eve. They are in hiding. They have broken the Law of God. They have sinned. They have done what He said they shouldn’t and now they run for cover. Not only that, but they try to cover their nakedness and shame.

But the gracious and caring Gardner doesn’t leave them alone to their demise and death. The merciful Gardener seeks them out, calling them by name; to protect them because He loves them unconditionally in spite of what they have done. PAUSE.

In the cool of the day the God of the universe walks in the Garden and speaks to the first man Adam and continues to speak to man today, because He is a living God.  You and I are blessed to worship our living God who has conquered death for us by sending His Son Jesus to find us. In these verses we see God’s very first question to man: “Where are you?” God asked this question to Adam, not because He did not know where Adam was, but rather because He wanted Adam to recognize his lost condition and terrible situation.

God created man to have an intimate relationship, constant fellowship and eternal life with Him.  At some point after God created him, Adam fell in sin and lost this fellowship, this relationship and the promise of Eternal life.  He could no longer be in the presence of the holy and just Lord.  This is why Adam was hiding.  God, however, is merciful, compassionate and gracious and wants to restore this lost fellowship and relationship. This is why God looked for him and asked him: Where are you?” Those of us who are far away from the presence of the Lord are also like lost Adam because we try to hide from the presence of God.

Being lost happened in the life of Mary, who came to a garden, a garden tomb; to anoint the dead corpse of her beloved Teacher. She came with the oils and spices to hide the stench of decay, to cover up death. She was alone. It was not “Adam where are you?” but “Lord, where are You?” She asked the question that our sin nature demands to be answered, “Dear God, where are You?” His answer is the intimate one of Resurrection and sure hope in the face of human fear and pain.

In the most intimate Psalm (as I call it the Ultra-sound Psalm) David said: Where shall I go from Your Spirit?  Or where shall I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, You are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me” (Ps. 139:7-10). And the answer? NOWHERE! We may hide from God, we may think we can stay away from His presence, but He, out of love for us, will not leave us. He seeks us out so that He may save us from the eternal destructive forces of evil and death.

Yet, we try often. We try to hide behind closed doors. We try to hide in our bedrooms? We try to hide in the dark places where the light of the Gospel is absent. We try to hide in bushes of our own making and cover our shame just like Adam and Eve did. But God loves us a lot. He cares for us and will seek us out. He will not leave us alone—but sent His Son, His only Son to save and to seek that which was lost—on the cross of Calvary.

This is the fulfillment of the promise given to Adam and Eve in the Garden when God spoke saying: I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Gen. 3:15). This is the reason the Lord continues to seek us lost and condemned creatures because He promised to save us.

It is important to hear the voice of God in the Garden. The Gardener is calling even today. He continues to call sinners to come to Him and receive His blessings. He calls them to restore them to a blessed and wonderful relationship and fellowship with Him. PAUSE.

“I heard Your voice in the Garden, and I was afraid.” Were the words of Adam when He heard the voice of God in the Garden! After disobeying the command of the Lord, suddenly Adam’s eyes were open to the fact that his flesh was exposed.  Adam was in sin.  He could no longer be in the presence of the Lord.  In spite of that, Adam still had hope—he heard the voice of the Creator God in the Garden.  There is also hope for people today.  God knows your situation too. He wants to deliver all from that situation just as He did for Adam, and as He does for us.

He also knows our other needs.  Each of us has different needs, and God speaks to us with answers that fit these specific needs.  Regardless of the situation, the solution is provided by the Lord Himself. He gives us the Holy Spirit to hear His voice when He calls. He is speaking today, yet many do not hear, because in the world there are many noises that prevent them from hearing.  This is what occurs physically when we expose our ears to loud noises for a long time.  We begin to lose the ability to hear, and can eventually become deaf.  The same thing applies spiritually.

Therefore, we cannot hear God’s voice in the world. We can only hear Him in a special place like where Adam was in the Garden.  The Garden talks about the presence of the Lord.  It was the place where the trees clustered together.  There were not only trees, but also flowers and birds and animals.  The Garden is a beautiful place, which spiritually speaks of the Church where man is gathered and the gifts of the Holy Spirit blossom like flowers.  Only in the Body of Christ can we hear the Lord speak.  Only there can our needs be satisfied. Only through Him can we find solutions to our deepest problems.  He rescues us through His Son’s death on the cross of Calvary and the empty tomb.

Today, the Gardener is searching for you. Today, the Gardener is calling for you. Today, His voice of forgiveness is shared with you. Today, the Gardener comes to you with His peace offered in simple humble means—water, wafer, wine and Word. Today, the Gardener takes you back again and covers your shame and says to you, “You were once lost but now are found by Me.”

No wonder, that the sermon hymn (Amazing Grace…) has become a favorite to many. Therefore, with great joy having heard the voice of God in the Garden, let us rise again and sing once more the opening stanza of this comforting hymn and thank God our Gardener who has found us lost creatures.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, Was blind, but now I see. Amen. And Amen.

Now the peace…


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