We read in Genesis chapter 2 that in the Garden of Eden, man’s first home, God grew up every tree producing fruit pleasing to the sight. In the middle of the Garden grew two very specific trees, the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. After placing man in the garden God gave him as a gift to eat of every tree in the garden except one, the tree of the knowledge of good evil, “for as soon as you eat of it, you shall die.” So that leads me to believe that Adam and Eve were permitted to eat of the fruit of the tree of life.
As the story continues along though, the serpent, Satan comes to deceive our first father and mother to eat from the tree that would bring death. The fruit was pleasing to the eye afterall and so they ate, ignoring the bring death warning and instead believing the lie that they would be like God, knowing good and bad. And so the curse of sin enters God’s perfect world because of a choice to feed the flesh and ignore the divine order that sends a ripple effect throughout all of creation, ushering in a new age that we still feel the effects of today. No longer are they permitted in this state to eat of the fruit of life and so they and we are banished from the garden, but not forgotten.
It was praying the Our Father, the line, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” that got me thinking of these two trees, two trees that we are still presented with today, now that we live in the age of redemption. In every situation we are presented to choose between life and death. Will we react in a way that we pluck the fruit of the tree of life to eat and taste and be nourished from, or will do we listen to a lie of our flesh calling out to be fed from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thinking it will make us divine beings on our own terms? I think that’s why Jesus asks us to pray these words. He knows our flesh is tempted and weak, desiring to be satiated in any way possible and so to remind us of what that choice brought to Adam and Eve and the rest of creation he calls us to plead with God to lead us away from that tree and to the tree of life.
And what does the fruit from the tree of life look like, why the fruit of the Spirit of course, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The more we eat this fruit, it’s seeds are planted in us to grow and produce more of it in our lives. In turn, it will be the fruit that we have to offer all those around us so that a cycle of life continues on. As long as we stay connected to the true Vine then the Gardener will cultivate the fruit of life in us and through us.
When I pray that line, to lead me from temptation, I add in that God would lead me instead to life. I imagine myself before these two trees in the garden and physically turning from the one that will lead to my death and towards the one that will give me life. I ask that I will intentionally pluck its fruit and be satisfied by its taste, and let its goodness fill me to overflowing. I want to choose the nourishment that my Creator made for me to not only live on but to thrive on.