Paradise Is Found in Christ

Christ is the Christian’s Paradise, and Christians ought not think of Eden with a longing for mere material perfection, but should long for Christ and His Word.

John Milton’s epic poem, Paradise Lost, beautifully retells the first events of history, Satan’s fall and plot to spoil God’s creation, and the subsequent sin of Adam and Eve. Stepping with Milton into that flawless world awakens a deep sense of longing for a perfect life, while a disgust at the ugly, horrific nature of sin increases all the more. If only paradise had not been lost! If only Adam and Eve had not foolishly disobeyed, then man would still be in Eden and would still enjoy that bliss.

As Milton emphasizes, this very longing for a perfect Eden manifests itself in Adam and Eve after their sin. With the despair of their disobedience weighing them down, they comfort themselves with the thought that they could still live in the garden with the memory of the perfection they had once enjoyed. At least they would still have their favorite bowers and groves and all the other material things which had made Eden so sweet and pleasant. Yet even this woefully short-sighted consolation is removed from Adam and Eve—God sent an angel, depicted in the poem as the angel Michael, to banish them from the garden. Adam’s longing to remain in Eden was a longing after a hollow shell, a mere corpse of what had been, and God graciously removed Adam from living in a garden of delusion in order to give him the true Paradise of Christ.

It is God’s messenger Michael who shows Adam real consolation, for paradise is not found in created things, but is found only in God’s Word. He speaks to Adam of the promised Seed of the woman, the Word Incarnate, who would trample Sin and Death under His feet, and reward “His faithful, and receive them into bliss, / Whether in heaven or earth, for then the earth / Shall all be Paradise, far happier place / Than this of Eden.” True paradise is more than a nice garden—it is where Christ dwells with man. Knowing of Christ was such a joy for Adam, that he no longer mourned the leaving of Eden, for in hearing the gospel “then wilt thou not be loath / To leave this Paradise, but shalt possess / A Paradise within thee, happier far.”

Christ is the Christian’s Paradise, and Christians ought not think of Eden with a longing for mere material perfection, but should long for Christ and His Word, from whom all other good things are also bestowed. Christ is the Tree of Life, and the fruit of this tree is the heavenly banquet of His true Body and Blood, by which the eating of the forbidden fruit and all following sins are forgiven. Christ is the Word that Adam, Eve, and all their descendants have scorned to heed, yet as the Word Incarnate He took upon Himself the sins of the whole world. Where Christ the Second Adam is present, there is paradise, and He is certainly present in His Word and Sacraments. That paradise which fallen Adam and Eve longed to enjoy is had in every Divine Service, a foretaste of the feast to come. As Adam left Eden comforted by hearing of Christ, may every child at Mount Hope leave this world with gladness, filled with knowledge of various subjects and topics, but chiefly filled with the knowledge of Christ, never to seek any other paradise but God’s Word.

1. O Jesus Christ, Thy manger is
My paradise at which my soul reclineth.
For there, O Lord, Doth lie the Word
Made flesh for us; herein Thy grace forth shineth.

2. He whom the sea And wind obey
Doth come to serve the sinner in great meekness.
Thou, God’s own Son, With us art one,
Dost join us and our children in our weakness.

3. Thy light and grace Our guilt efface,
Thy heavenly riches all our loss retrieving.
Immanuel, Thy birth doth quell
The power of hell and Satan’s bold deceiving.

4. Thou Christian heart, Whoe’er thou art,
Be of good cheer and let no sorrow move thee!
For God’s own Child, In mercy mild,
Joins thee to Him;-how greatly God must love thee!

5. Remember thou What glory now
The Lord prepared thee for all earthly sadness.
The angel host Can never boast
Of greater glory, greater bliss or gladness.

6. The world may hold Her wealth and gold;
But thou, my heart, keep Christ as thy true Treasure.
To Him hold fast Until at last
A crown be thine and honor in full measure.
(Lutheran Service Book, 372)

In Christ
Miss Hannah Engwall

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