It’s easy to look at Adam and Eve eating the fruit from the tree and think, “What’s the big deal? Their curiosity got the best of them and they messed up. That’s no reason to bring down the universe, is it? Who did they hurt? What was it about eating some fruit that justified the consequences they (and creation) experienced?”
But to look at it this way is to see only the tip of the iceberg. It is to view it from a single, isolated perspective (the act itself) that fails to take into account the larger issue (the motivation behind it). By eating the fruit, Adam and Eve were ultimately rejecting their Father’s goodness and love. Even though He had blessed them and trusted them, they decided to go their own way. They were guilty of relational betrayal—they cheated on God. They involved themselves in the kind of betrayal that is at the epicenter of all crime. It is Israel failing to trust in God’s ability to take them to the land of Canaan. It is David sending for Bathsheba and then orchestrating the death of Uriah. It is Judas selling out Jesus. It is why Jesus told us that loving God and our neighbor is at the heart of what God desires from us. Properly understood, this is what took place in the garden.
But there’s another dimension to this. Going their own way meant, at least for Eve, that she wanted to be like God (v. 5 – we’re not told what was in Adam’s heart, only that he wasn’t deceived as Eve was – 1 Timothy 2:14). The irony is that God wanted her and Adam to be like Him in terms of them being benevolent loving lords over creation. But being God’s representative and ruling over creation was somehow not enough so she sought after God’s status and Adam joined her. The created in rebellion against their Creator!
Relational betrayal and rebellion represent the epitome of sin. It is what brings down people, families, nations, civilizations and humanity.
There’s yet one more way to view sin and that is through the lens of Calvary. What happened in the garden was overcome by the cross. Or to flip it around, the cross was made necessary by what happened in the garden. This underscores an important truth—we’re not capable of seeing sin for all that it is. Part of the reason is that we’re finite human beings. The other part is that our own understanding has been skewed by sin. The death of Christ tells us that sin is bad beyond our comprehension. The One who was the epitome of goodness, truth and love suffered a cruel death for our iniquities.
There is nothing trivial about sin; there are only trivial ways of looking at it.