The irony of the forbidden fruit


What do you think of when you see the bitten apple?  Well excepting the electronics company, usually the associations (at least in Western art and advertising) have been with sin, even a celebration of sin; elicit pleasures, especially sexual.

The strange thing is that the original forbidden fruit taken by Eve is never called an apple in the Bible but apples do turn up in the Song of Songs (Song of Solomon) chapter 2:

Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest is my lover among the young men.
I delight to sit in his shade, and his fruit is sweet to my taste.
He has taken me to the banquet hall, and his banner over me is love.
Strengthen me with raisins, refresh me with apples, for I am faint with love.

The metaphors of tasting and eating have romantic and sexual overtones but in the context of the Song of Songs these are God-ordained desires not elicit pleasures.  The lavishly intimate language of the Song is a commentary on the one-flesh joy of Genesis 2, which is itself a pointer to a greater union – that of Christ and the Church (Eph. 5:31-33). For this reason (and also from the testimony of Psalm 45, Isaiah 5, Hosea and various clues in the Song of Songs itself) the Church through the ages has seen in the lover of the Song a portrait of Jesus himself.  Christ is the apple tree.  To delight in his shade, sustained by his fruit, overwhelmed by his love is what we were made for.

Do you see the great irony?  The apple is not the forbidden fruit but the life of Christ.  To eat the apple is not sin but salvation – the banquet of grace.  How perverse we are to use a picture of Jesus as an advert for sin, to call good evil and evil good, to confuse the tree of life with the tree of death, to think that Jesus has come to steal and kill and destroy and the devil has come to give fullness of life when the little-know truth is the very reverse.  Christ is the apple tree.


More on the Song of Songs.

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