Golden Prometheus, a Titanic god, lies bound by the ice skating rink in Rockefeller Center, New York City. Zeus, an Olympian god, bound Prometheus because Prometheus (who created man) gave fire to man. When Prometheus had been bound thirty-thousand years, he was freed by a man, Heracles.
The god Wotan, stole a magic ring, the Rheingold, and used it to pay for the construction of a marvelous palace, Valhalla. A man, Siegfried, defeated Wotan, and Valhalla burned.
Odysseus, a man, left Troy to sail to his home on the island of Ithaca. The powerful sea god, Poseidon, did his best to prevent Odysseus from ever arriving home. At length, though, after many years, Odysseus did land safely on Ithaca.
One headline would suffice for these three legends: “Man Defeats God.” If the theme sounds familiar, it should. It is the oldest dream of mankind, originating at the dawn of human history.
Before human history, one of the cherubim, great but created creatures, decided to throw off the shackles (as he considered them) of divine rule. “I will be like the Most High” was his dream (Isa 14:14). In Eden’s garden, he took the form of a serpent and shared his dream with the newly-created woman. “Hath God said…?” asked the serpent, regarding the trees of the garden. “Of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, ‘Ye shall not eat of it,’” replied the woman (Gen 3:3). This was simple jealousy on God’s part, the serpent implied. “God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof … ye shall be as gods.” This appealed to the woman, and apparently to her husband as well, for they both ate the forbidden fruit.
They immediately discovered the dream was a folly. God came into the garden, and they hid, aware that they were no longer fit to stand before God. They had discovered, to their sorrow, a great truth about God: “He is Lord of all” (Acts 10:36).
There are various forms of wrongdoing, and not all are equal. Some can be (at least partially) reversed. A liar may admit to the truth. A thief may make restitution. Some forms of wrongdoing, though, cannot be undone. Murder is an obvious example. Another is rebellion. There is seldom any means of making amends, once one rebels. Consider the general who leads a coup d’�tat against his government. What if he fails? Does he get to say, “Sorry about that, I promise not to do it again”? More likely, he is taken behind the barracks and shot.
The Bible makes clear that this is how God regards rebellion. Before the man and woman ate of the forbidden fruit, God warned, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen 2:17). If it should be supposed that God did not really mean that, the apostle Paul warns, “The wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23).
The belated realization that God is “Lord of all” was of no help to the man and woman. The result of their rebellion was not only death for themselves, but for all their descendants as well. “As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men” (Rom 5:12). The rebellion of man did not emancipate him from God. Quite the opposite: it left him still under God’s control, and worse, cursed with death.
Here is where this bleak picture becomes interesting. Rebellion is punishable by death. When, though, has it ever happened that the victim of a rebellion—the one in power—takes the punishment of the rebel? Does the prime minister offer to be shot in the place of the general who mounted the failed coup? Such a thing is unheard of.
Yet that is exactly what God has done. Man rebelled against his Creator God and failed, miserably. His rebellion placed him under the curse of death. That curse cannot be reversed. Therefore, the Son of God became a Man Himself, and took the curse of death for man. “As by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one Man, [i.e., Jesus] shall many be made righteous” (Rom 5:19).
You and I are, by birth, under the curse of death. Yet the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Son, died on a cross outside Jerusalem to bear that curse for us. We can be “made righteous” simply by trusting Christ’s death for us.
Those who accept Christ’s death for them say, “He is Lord of all.” Unlike Adam and Eve, though, they do not admit this fearfully. Rather, they say it joyfully, happy to recognize as their Lord the One Who loved them enough to die and bear sin’s curse for them.