THE ULTIMATE HUMAN
Lord, on this Ash Wednesday I remember that You are my maker and my God. You have given me life and You sustain me. I bless Your name.
Read ROMANS 5:12–21
Death Through Adam, Life Through Christ
12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—
13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.
15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!
18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Pause for a moment to give thanks for God’s love in Christ.
Jews and Christians read the Old Testament differently. For Jews it is about how the people of God should live righteously. For Christians it is a story of creation, fall, the beginnings of redemption and the anticipation of its completion. For Jews, Adam does not much figure; for Christians he is definitive. To be ‘in Adam’ is to be made in the image of God but turned away and fallen short of ‘the glory of God’.1 That fall can be discerned in the gap between what we have the glorious potential to be and what we actually are. This problem goes back to the beginnings of the human race (v 12). All of us are implicated. Sin, spiritual death, disobedience, and condemnation flow from being in Adam, since we have all sinned.
However, we have been redefined! A second and greater Adam has arisen who abolishes the old and brings in the new. He recreates humanity and fulfills its true potential. What he brings is gift not deserts, gain not loss. The benefits of this greater Adam are vast: grace (v 15), justification (v 16), life (v 18), righteousness (v 17), eternal life (v 21). These gifts are ‘for all people’ (v 18). If Adam represents a deviation from the true path, then the greater Adam is an arrival at the proper destination. In this sense he is the ultimate human being, having become, through his obedience (v 19), all that each person is supposed to be. Notice another ‘how much more’ in verse 17: if the first Adam has had such a powerful (though destructive) impact upon humankind, how much more powerfully will the Son of God, made incarnate, enable us all to ‘reign in life’ (v 17). Now, in him, we can receive everything we need to move towards our true and God-given goal.
‘… let us press on to know the Lord’.2
Merciful Father, I confess I have dishonored You by my sin. I thank and praise You for Your forgiveness.
1 Rom 3:23 2 Hos 6:3, NRSV
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