“Are we any better than Adam and Eve were? I think not. Go back with me this morning to that beautiful paradise of Eden, where every flower bloomed before the face of the God who gave it, and where every flower threw out its aroma into the nostrils of the perfect man and woman; go with me back to that time when Adam and Eve stood in the garden of Eden, created in the very image of their God; go back with me to the day when they stood there without any sin, without any pain, without any death, lords of all the world beside; and let us ask ourselves the question, What did those two people do? What did they do for the world? They sinned, and, by sinning, they put sickness and pain into every home of the future; by their sin they dug every grave that has ever been dug; by their sin they lit the fires of every persecution that ever raged; by their sin they touched off the cannon of every war; by their sin they drove the sword in to the hilt; by their sin they opened the way to hell, and by their sin they shut the gates of heaven! Oh! my friends, if the first two parents in the world, by having their own way, did all this, what would you and I do today if we could escape our troubles in our own way?
Are we any better than those disciples were? How often we have longed to have been with Jesus as John was, and as Luke was, and as all the twelve were; they walked with Him for three long years; they sat at His feet day and night; they heard His prayers; they saw His miracles; they heard His wonderful sermons, and it does seem to us, if there ever were good men on earth, it must have been those disciples. But lo! when Jesus announces to them that He is going home, they are filled with sorrow, and none of them says a word about how they might escape. Jesus accuses them of not trying to get out of their sorrow in the right way. “None of you asketh Me, Whither goest Thou?” They were in deep sorrow; they wanted Jesus to stay, and, if He had stayed, then what? Then the Holy Spirit would not have come, and if the Holy Spirit had not come then the poor heathen would not have been convinced of sin and of righteousness, and of judgment, and he would not have repented, would not have heard of God, and every heathen would have been lost.
And not only is this true, but the Church of God itself would have suffered. In other words, if the disciples could have had their own way that day, they would have ruined the whole world, and just so you and I would do. The truth must be told. We think we are not selfish; we think that we could just do things right if we only had control; but, O God, pity this world if I had control of it! God pity this world if you had control of it! The real truth of it is that every man on earth is far more selfish than he knows. If the Lord were to give you and me the right this day to escape all our troubles in our own way, we should be making troubles where there are none and getting out in our own way, and after a little if we had this right I should own the whole world, and own you, too, and I should ruin every one of you. We do not think we would, but ah! do not trust man; do not trust the arm of flesh. If Adam and Eve, in the image of their God, without a spot of sin on their souls, ruined and damned the whole world; if those twelve good men, that walked with Jesus for three long years, could not be trusted alone in their way, how can you and I be trusted in our way? The truth must be told. God knows what you need; God knows what I need; and, if I am in trouble, no one knows so well as my God how to lead me out, and no one knows so well as God how to lead you out.
From The Great Gospel by Simon Peter Long. LutheranLibrary.org edition in preparation.