“‘He shall crush your head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel.’” Genesis
After creating the world and everything in it in six days,
God placed Adam and Eve in the midst of paradise—Eden—and gave them dominion to
rule over all of creation. Man and woman
enjoyed direct communion with God in Eden and free reign over everything in
paradise. Adam and Eve had but one rule to live by; not to eat from the Tree of
the Knowledge of Good and Evil, for eating from that tree would lead to their
deaths. Eating from the tree wouldn’t kill them, but being disobedient to God
would. The serpent, as Genesis recounts, was the most cunning of all the
creatures, and deceived Eve into eating from the prohibited tree, and Adam
followed after her lead and ate of the tree of his own accord.
They had disobeyed God and brought sin into the created
world, and with sin came heartache, hard labor, grief, greed, anger, jealousy,
insecurity, anxiety, and ultimately, death. Creation had been tainted because
of mankind’s sin against God. They could no longer live in Paradise in
communion with God; Adam and Eve were exiled from Eden and sent away from God’s
presence. This was for their own good; God is the epitome of holiness, and
sinful creatures cannot be in His presence and live.
Before banishing Adam and Eve from Eden, God made Eve—the
mother of all humanity—a promise. There would come from her one who would fix
all of this; one who would make things right once again and restore humanity to
its intended relationship with God. From her seed will come one who could erase
the mistake she and Adam had made. This Promised One would also come for the
serpent—the deceiver who helped usher in sin and death. The serpent would wound
the Promised One, possibly even hurt him badly, but the Promised One would
destroy the serpent. God was not caught off guard by man’s actions; He was
already prepared with a plan in place to make things right again.
So humanity was exiled from Eden, forced to be separated from
God’s presence. But God had given humanity a most powerful gift as He exiled
them: the promise of the hope; hope that redemption would come.
Generations came and went, creation seemed to spiral ever
further into sin and evil. Man continually sought after the dark and depraved
desires of his own heart. God watched as mankind—His creation—forsook Him and
scorned Him and made themselves to be their own gods. Everywhere upon the
Earth, sin ran wild, and death and the grave consumed humanity.
God’s promise of hope persisted. Though each generation seemed to fall further away from Him, there were still those who sought God and His righteousness, and for their sake, His promise was sustained. Promises were made to specific people to help carry on this initial promise made in Eden, and covenants made to make these promises binding. God abided by His promises, and the faithful in each generation lived with hope: hope that the Promised One would soon come and make all things right again.
Still, generations came and went, and God would continue to
unveil His plan a little at a time. This Promised One would be descended from
Judah; He would be like a lion and would be a king (Genesis 49). He would be
from the Line of David (II Samuel 7). He would be a suffering servant, led like
a lamb to the slaughter (Isaiah 53). He
would be Immanuel, God with Us (Isaiah 7).
The original promise—the promise of hope—echoed with every
new prophecy and re-affirmation of the coming of the Promised One. He will crush your head, and you will bruise
Generations came and went, lived and died, and waited. The
righteous waited for the Promised One though all around them turned to idols
and sacrificed their children to false gods. The righteous waited through judgment
and exile and silence from Heaven. The righteous waited while sin and death and
the grave and the Serpent-Deceiver continued to claim usurped authority on the
Earth. The righteous waited because they had the promise of hope and the
assurance of God’s faithfulness to His promises. The Promised One would come,
and He would make all things right.
This was the backstory to the story of Jesus of Nazareth. He
was sent to be the Promised One and crush the head of the serpent—to destroy
the Deceiver—and restore humanity’s relationship with God. As Jesus taught and
performed miracles, people began to wonder if He might be the Promised One, but
many had lost sight of the promise that the Promised One was to fulfill. They had developed ideas of what the Promised
One would be and what He would do that satisfied their own views and beliefs.
Jesus, however, knew what His mission was, and He knew what He must do to
fulfill God’s promise of hope and redemption.
He would have to be wounded.
He would have to be wounded because, to defeat sin and death
and the grave and the Deceiver, Jesus would have to die. Without dying, Christ could not provide a
sacrifice that would atone—forgive—our sins. Without dying, Christ could not
invade the grave and conquer it. To defeat death, Christ must die. Most importantly, to destroy the Deceiver—to
crush the serpent’s head—Christ must die. He must die so that He could come
back to life.
When Christ was taken off the cross on Good Friday, half the
battle was won. During His moment of glorification and exaltation, He had
offered the sacrifice of atonement and settled humanity’s account before God.
Now, Christ the King was on the path of conquest, invading the territory of the
enemy: death and the grave. As He once
said, “No one takes my life away from Me. I have the authority to lay it
down and I have the authority to take it up again,” (John 10:18).
On the first day of the week, when the mourning followers of
Christ came to His grave, they were expecting to anoint the body of a man they
had hoped to be the Promised One. They had forgotten that the Promised One
would have to be wounded by the serpent and led like a lamb to the slaughter.
They surely did not expect the Promised One to die, and especially did not
expect the Promised One to be crucified. So they came to mourn; mourn for
Christ and their dashed hopes, and to begin the process of waiting and hoping
His grave, however, was empty. Christ had risen. He had
invaded death and the grave and returned. He had conquered them. He had
O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians
have been the slain Lamb who was laid in the grave on Friday—reviled and forsaken
by man—but, it was the roaring Lion of Judah who emerged that Sunday morning and who was victorious over
sin, death, and the grave; who crushed the head of the serpent. It was the Lion
of Judah whose victory shook the very Earth down to the pit of defeated Hell,
and it is the Lion of Judah who lives and reigns today and forevermore at the
right hand of God.
The promise that was first made so very long ago had been kept. The Promised One had come and He made all things right. He restored our relationship with God by paying our debt with His blood. He was wounded, but He crushed the serpent’s head, and He is coming again to return us from our exile from God’s presence.
artwork: “Lion and Snake,” Samuel William Reynolds, 1799.