Thursday, December 02, 2010

Sermon on Romans 5:12-21, for midweek Advent 1, "From Adam to Jesus"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. In the sermon series for Advent, we will look at how the birth and coming of Jesus Christ was foreshadowed and pictured through various examples, peoples, and events, that we call types or shadows. What is a type or shadow? It’s related to prophecy. Prophecies are the God-given messages spoken by His messengers. They explained events both past, present, and future, usually emphasizing the need for repentance and God’s promised actions. Of course Christ, as the coming Savior, is the most frequent subject of prophecy, and Jesus is like the golden thread that runs through all the tapestry of Scripture. A prophecy is spoken or in writing. A type or shadow would be more like an object lesson or even a prototype. It could be a person or event that prophetically alludes to or foreshadows some greater person or event. But this type or prototype is always something inferior to or less than the final reality it points to. Today we’ll see how the first man Adam was a type of Jesus Christ, who is called in Scripture the “second Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45). Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

There’s a certain argument for abortion that is often given for situations where the baby may face a very difficult life. It goes like this: if the child would just be born into a miserable existence, physical or mental handicaps, poverty, a dysfunctional family or home, a situation involving addictions, etc, then it would be better off for that child that they never live. Spare them their future misery. Yet every member of the human race is unavoidably born into a situation they didn’t ask for. We were unavoidably born into sin and thus death ruled over us. None asked for this. We were born into slavery under sin and a death sentence hung over us from our conception. Unavoidably born into a world of disease, suffering and sin. But despite getting a life that was a far cry from what we were made for, our lives are still precious and valuable, and they’re worth living because there is a second birth available to us, by which we can escape the effects of this sinful world and gain a better life.

Every child born of Adam from the beginning of time, has inherited his sin. As Romans states: “sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” Adam is the head of the human race and we all share his image. When we remember back to the first chapters of Genesis, we hear how God took the virgin earth, the soil that was pure and newly created. No rain had fell on it, no crops had grown in it, and no man had labored in the soil. God took that dust of the earth, in Hebrew adamah, and shaped it into the first man Adam. God prepared paradise for Adam and his wife Eve, whom God formed from Adam’s side. God wanted them to live forever in the perfect paradise of Eden. That was what we were made for. But through Adam’s disobedience, sin and death entered the once perfect world, and ever since then we’ve all sinned like Adam, and all have been paying for it.

But from the very first sin of Adam and Eve, and their fall into the corrupted world of death, suffering, and disease, God already had worked out a plan to save them from this fate—and the worse fate of eternal separation from God because of their sin. God already had it in mind to redeem them, and in Genesis 3:15 He promised to send one of Eve’s offspring, one of her “seed” to come and crush the head of the serpent. But in the process the serpent would bruise His heel. And the One who finally came, Jesus Christ, was the new and greater reality of which Adam was a “type” or foreshadowing.

In what way was Jesus the “second Adam?” As Adam had no earthly father, so also Jesus had God as His true Father. But where Adam only was the image and likeness of God, Jesus was not just like God, but the very form and image of God (Phil. 2:6; 2 Cor. 4:4). As Adam was shaped from the virgin soil of the earth, so also Jesus was born in the womb of the Virgin Mary. As Adam was head of the human race, so also Jesus is head of the new “race” of believers who are the members of His body, the
Church.

Adam was the crown of the Old Creation, but Jesus is the crown and also the King of the New Creation. In Adam, one sin, one act of disobedience, brought death to the whole world. In Christ, one act of righteousness, His death on the cross, brought life to the whole world. Adam was tempted in the garden by the serpent, and was overcome by the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Jesus was tempted in a garden by the devil, but Jesus overcame temptation and the devil by the Tree of His cross. Adam was barred from the gate to paradise, Jesus broke the bars and reopened the way to paradise.

So what does all this mean for us? What’s it to you as a Christian, that Adam was the type or foreshadowing of Jesus, our Savior? It means that the life that we were naturally born into, a life unavoidably filled with sin and all its painful consequences, isn’t the only life we’re resigned to live. We’re not resigned to being born in a set of circumstances brought about by our own sin and also the sin of Adam, as the head of our human race. We’re not resigned to just making the best of things until we face inevitable death. No, the fact that Jesus has come into the world as the Second and greater Adam brings us the “free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ [which] abounded for many.” As the gate to Paradise was barred to Adam and Eve after the Fall into sin, Jesus has now burst open the door for us to enter the Greater Paradise of Heaven. Adam’s sin brought us much suffering and pain and ultimately death, but this is nothing in comparison to the free gift of Jesus that overflows to us all. However much the effects of Adam’s sin have been multiplied through the ages, so much more has the death of Jesus on the cross multiplied to benefit and spread to all mankind.

Jesus, by His death, removed the whole set of sin’s consequences and replaced them with a hopeful destiny of forgiveness, grace, and eternal life. This reality is available through Jesus Christ and the rebirth of our baptism, where we’re joined to the new head of the new “race” of believers in Jesus Christ. All who become members of His body by rebirth in baptism will one day reign with Him in life. We have an even greater paradise restored to us. Adam’s disobedience made us sinners—but Christ’s obedience made us innocent and righteous. So take heart and be encouraged to know that by grace you’ve been joined to Christ and reborn into a living hope and love that we couldn’t have asked for or deserved. In Christ, God has restored in greater measure what was lost through Adam. Praise to Christ, our head and our King! Amen.

Now the peace of God which passes all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting. Amen.

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