The lectionary for the first Sunday in Lent pairs the temptation of Adam and Eve in the garden with the temptation of Jesus in the
Lead Me Not into Temptation
The lectionary for the first Sunday in Lent pairs the temptation of Adam and Eve in the garden with the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness.
Both passages are relevant to the temptations which assail our house, filled as it is with twin sixteen year olds chafing to get their driver's licenses. Consider that tree of the knowledge of good and evil from which our first parents were prohibited plucking juicy (or for that matter, any) fruit. We have a comparable tree planted on our garage asphalt pan. We call it a Malibu. To eat its fruit, that is, to drive away, intoxicates the consumer with the promise of freedom. From Pa. From sermons beginning, "When I was your age." From homework. And freedom to learn about the world on your own. Go to places previously unexplored. You know, seat of your pants education, what they can never really teach you in school or home or the AAA driving course. In other words, the knowledge of good and evil... there, hanging from the tree... or the rear view mirror.
Of course, sixteen year olds do not perceive the ambiguity of such fruit. How could they? The barrage of blandishments in TV ads aid and abet the serpentine notions natural to an adolescent brain. The Malibu in fantasy is transformed into a BMW; a trip to the supermarket becomes a lap at the Indy. And I do not have to interrogate the boys in our house to imagine these daydreams. I have only to dredge up thoughts that flew through my own noggin when I was their age and a lot later. The knowledge of good and evil plucked from the Malibu/BMW can only be advantageous. Right?
Well, maybe we should ask old Adam and Eve. The purchase for eating Eden's forbidden fruit was equivocation, passing the buck, feeling the need for fig leaves, and being permanently grounded. The novice drivers, accordingly, will learn that the cost of operating a Malibu will exhaust their allowance, exacerbate grandparental and maternal fears about dented fenders and broken limbs, and greatly increase the incidence of the question, "Where are you going and when will you be home?" The knowledge of good and evil can be burdensome.
Leave it to Jesus to expose the other temptation that attaches to the tree in the middle of our driveway. I mean the one about throwing yourself off the highest pinnacle of the temple to prove you have divine protection. That reads perilously close to speeding on the highway at a devil-doesn't-care mph. The reason the devil doesn't care is that he made you do it. Which, of course, doesn't excuse one from being complicit... nor does it prevent one from wrapping the car around a tree.
Living here east of Eden we, including sixteen year olds, bear the burden of the knowledge of good and evil, which requires every ounce of responsibility we can muster from the moment we lose our innocence until we arrive, if ever we do, at the gates of pearl. As I have tried to impart to the twins, about driving, that (1) a car is primarily a means of getting from here to there, and the style with which we do it is secondary; (2) it, driving, demands constant attention, no diversions, and when we are doing it we must be there there; (3) the joy of the open (that's a joke!) road is doing it well and carefully, forget the bunk about cruising down a deserted back road (they don't exist, except in Lexus ads); and (4) the most important rule of the road is golden, treating others the way you want to be treated.
Imagine, Genesis 3 and Luke 4 are about getting a driver's license. And, of course, a whole lot more.