The Bible is the Word of God and reveals to us Jesus Christ, the Son of God, whether directly or indirectly. For example, Jesus even said, “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me” (John 5:46). The fall of mankind, the entrance of sin, and the need for Christ to die for us originated in Genesis 3. Would we expect to see Christ there? Absolutely—but perhaps more than you realize.
Genesis 3 reveals the account of Eve being deceived by the serpent followed by Adam and Eve’s sin of eating the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Genesis 3 also reveals the curses and repercussions of sin. Perhaps you are wondering where Christ is in this passage. Let’s take a closer look.
Genesis 3:8–24: the Lord
We need to remember that Jesus did not merely show up on the scene 2,000 years ago.
The first reference to Christ is well known. It is called a “theophany” or, more precisely, a “Christophany.” These are appearances of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Old Testament prior to Christ coming in the flesh (e.g., remember the Lord appearing to Abraham in Genesis 18; cf. John 8:58). Keeping in mind who Christ is (the Creator God—John 1; Colossians 1; Hebrews 1), we need to remember that Jesus did not merely show up on the scene 2,000 years ago. He is the Creator, “the Word made flesh” as John puts it in John 1.
When the Lord was walking in the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve sinned, He came to seek those who had been lost. This loving act is one of God’s characteristics that shows that when man sinned, He still loved us and had a plan in place for salvation. When Christ stepped into history, it was to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).
In fact, this ties in with one common misconception. We often read or hear someone saying that Adam walked with God in the Garden of Eden. However, this is not what the Bible says. When we read that the Lord was walking in the Garden, it was specifically after Adam and Eve sinned. In fact, the Lord came seeking them. This was in the cool of the day, so it was not the warmer portion of the day, but perhaps closer to evening or morning.1
Regardless, it may not be wise to say that Adam walked with God. Instead, due to sin, the Lord God came to seek and save mankind right from the start. And this was culminated in Christ’s actions on the cross.
Genesis 3:5: Knowing Good and Evil
Not everything the serpent said in Genesis 3 was a lie. This is common among deceivers: they sprinkle truth with lies. One thing the serpent said to Eve was that she would be like God, knowing good and evil.
Was this a “prophecy come true” for Satan (the influencer behind the serpent)? After all, in Genesis 3:22, God reveals that man had become like God, knowing good and evil. By no means is this a fulfilled prophecy of Satan, but common knowledge to him. As Satan had sinned in heavenly realms, God then experienced (i.e., knew intimately) a distinction between good and evil (evil is basically the absence of good).
When Adam and Eve sinned, they (and we) were subject to the same thing: an experiential knowledge of distinction between good and evil. So, in that sense, they had become like God. This is to be distinguished from being or becoming God.
But notice this connection to the gospel. Mankind had become like God when we sinned. And the direct result was that God would become like man. In fact, He did become a man—Jesus Christ—to die in our place.
Sin Connection: First Adam–Last Adam
When a perfect man, Adam, sinned in a perfect world, the whole world fell, including the dominion of Adam (think of it like this: if a king makes bad decisions, it affects his whole kingdom).
Christ, who became a man, was called the second or last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45). If Adam is one type, Christ is another type.2 Christ, unlike Adam, came into an imperfect world and yet lived a perfect and sinless life; Paul contrasts this in the following passages:
And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. (1 Corinthians 15:45)
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—(For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. (Romans 5:12–15)
In other words, all those who came from Adam die because we all sinned in Adam (Hebrews 7:9–10), and we all still sin. Since all of mankind come from Adam, we are all subject to this same death, which is the punishment for sin.
The fascinating thing is that not all will die in such a way because of Christ and His work on the cross. Those in Christ will be made alive (John 5:24), and death will have no sting (1 Corinthians 15:55).
Genesis 3:11: Nakedness
In a perfect world, Adam and Eve were naked and felt no shame (Genesis 2:25); after sin, shame for nakedness had entered (Genesis 3:11). It affected Adam and Eve so much that they made fig leaf clothing and even hid from the Lord. Notice they hid from the Lord due to their nakedness even after they had made clothing! So, sin’s effect on nakedness was something serious, and most people still adhere to the doctrine of clothing today.
But why is nakedness brought out and discussed in so much detail here? Perhaps there is another connection to what Jesus went through on the cross. John 19:23–24 reveals that Christ’s own garments were taken from Him to reveal Him naked on the cross, fulfilling Psalm 22:18.
Would Christ have been ashamed of being naked? Since He was not a sinner—and there is a relationship between sin and shame regarding nakedness in Genesis 3 (see also Revelation 3:18)—then it makes no sense that Christ would have been shamed by this. However, without a doubt, this was only one of many subtle attacks on Christ that could be classed as open shame from an outside, human perspective (consider Hebrews 6:6).
Genesis 3:15: Seed of a Woman/Virgin Birth
When Adam and Eve sinned against God, God cursed the ground, cursed the animals, and sentenced man to die. The world went from a perfect state to an imperfect state (which is why we need a new heavens and a new earth, by the way). But in the middle of all this, there is a beautiful promise—Genesis 3:15 mentions the seed of a woman, which Isaiah further speaks about when he says:
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14.)
Genesis 3:15 is the first prophecy of Jesus being the seed of a woman or a virginal conception/fertilization that culminated in a virgin birth. Luke 1:26–35 explains this in much more detail—the miraculous entrance by our Savior into the world. As theologian Tim Chaffey eloquently explains in his book God and Cancer:
Many readers are familiar with the Christmas story. However, it is at the other end of Christ’s earthly life that we see the fulfillment of the other promise made in Genesis 3:15. More than three decades later, Jesus was hanging on a cross outside of Jerusalem with nails piercing His wrists and one spike nailed through his feet. Of course, readers are probably familiar with the crucifixion of Jesus. However, many are not aware of the manner in which God’s promise back in the Garden would be literally fulfilled. As a crucifixion victim, Christ would have literally bruised one of His heels. This is a natural result of crucifixion. As the crucifixion victim fights for air, he is forced to push himself upward so that he can take in a full breath. To do this, he must push his weight upward with his legs. However, because of the position in which the spike is driven through both feet, one of the victim’s heels is pushed hard into the upright beam of the cross. As the victim repeatedly clamors for air, his heel is literally bruised against the cross. While this is extremely interesting and provides evidence for the supernatural origin of the Bible, it is not the most important part of the promise found in Genesis 3:15.
After Jesus died on the cross He was laid in a tomb. Three days later, He rose from the dead and began to appear to His followers. In the process of conquering death, the Creator also conquered the serpent. The Resurrection demonstrated Christ’s power over the grave and guaranteed Satan’s doom.3
Genesis 3:16: Increased Pain
In a sin-cursed and broken world, there are many aspects that the Lord could comment on. When speaking to Eve in Genesis 3, it is fascinating that the Lord says that she will have increased pain in childbearing.
The Hebrew word for pain is etseb, strongly connotes “sorrow.” Many quickly assume this means that women have to endure horrendous childbirth, which is no doubt one aspect. But consider the sorrow aspect. Eve saw one son murdered by another son (Cain killed Abel).
What mother would not go though a terrible delivery rather than see one of her children murdered? But Eve was not the only one to suffer such sorrow: Mary saw Jesus die on the cross.
Genesis 3:18: Thorns
Cursed is the ground, but why mention thorns? Perhaps it is due to Christ knowing that one day a crown of thorns would be thrust upon His head (John 19:2–5).
Genesis 3:19: Return to Dust
Man was created from dust, and God breathed life into him (Genesis 2:7). When Adam and Eve sinned, they were, in essence, saying that they wanted a life without God. And so they were kicked out of the Garden of Eden onto the very dust that was used to create Adam (Genesis 3:23).
God specifically planted a Garden and presented it perfectly to Adam (Genesis 2:8, 15), now Adam was forced to plant his own garden (Genesis 3:23) and tend it in toil and by the sweat of his brow (Genesis 3:17–19).
And so it is with dust: we come from it, and we return to it. But Jesus Christ, being the Son of God when crucified and laid in a grave, did not return to dust. He rose again proving that He has power over life and death. In fact, Christ’s body did not even see decay (Acts 13:35–37), fulfilling what was said in Psalm 16:10.
Genesis 3:21: Sacrifice
When Adam and Eve sinned, they were ashamed, knowing they were naked, and made fig leaf coverings for themselves. But the punishment for sin was death (Genesis 2:17), and the Lord God sacrificed animals to cover Adam and Eve’s sin in Genesis 3:21 (garments/coats of skin). This very sacrifice was used to cover their nakedness from sin.
It set the stage for sacrifice with Abel offering fat portions, Noah offering sacrifices of clean animals, and Abraham and the Israelites offering sacrifices, which all pointed toward Christ, our Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7). For Christ is the ultimate and perfect Sacrifice—the only one who could take the infinite punishment from an infinite God. This first sacrifice in Genesis 3 was a model of what was to come—leading to Christ on the Cross.
Genesis 3:22: Eternal Life
The Tree of Life, once Adam and Eve sinned, could have theoretically given Adam and Eve eternal life in a sin-cursed world. And such was not the plan. This would actually be a terrible punishment for those who repent of their sins and turn to God. Can you imagine living forever in a sin-cursed world with no hope of something better? Thankfully, for those who love God and want to be with Him, God had another plan in place.
Jesus stepped in died for us and offers the free gift of salvation to all who receive. Consider the following passages:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:16–18)
For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him. (John 3:34–36)
Jesus . . . . There is no other name under heaven by which men can be saved (Acts 4:11–12).
He is “the Son of God” (Matthew 26:63–64). “And the one to whom all authority on heaven and earth has been given” (Matthew 28:18).
Jesus Christ is the central figure in the Bible, so we should focus on Him, rather than Satan, the serpent, or even angels and heroes of the faith. God has been so gracious as to present the Bible to man. Let us not neglect it—but use it in every area of our lives.