12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. — Romans 5:12–15 (ESV)
This is how the story begins. God made Adam in his image. He placed him in a garden and put him to work. His job was simple but important. Adam was responsible to cultivate and protect God’s creation as he filled the earth through fruitfulness and multiplication (Genesis 1:28). Though Adam, like the rest of God’s creation, was good, it was not good for him to be alone. He needed a suitable helper to come alongside him. Eve was God’s glorious answer. Adam rejoiced, and sang the first song in human history (Genesis 2:23). And yet, danger was lurking in the background.
One afternoon, Eve encountered her enemy, the crafty serpent who was Satan (Revelation 12:9). He questioned the command that God had given to Adam not to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17). Eve was deceived by the trickery of the serpent and offered some to Adam (1 Timothy 2:14). Adam was not deceived but knew full well what he was doing. He ate what God had forbidden. He failed to trust the words of his loving and kind Creator. He failed to protect his bride and the garden. Through his sin, death came to all, as Adam was the federal head whom God had appointed to represent all of humanity. As the Bible says, “one trespass led to condemnation for all men” (Romans 5:18).
"Like Adam, Jesus entered a garden of testing...unlike our first Adam, Jesus was faithful."
Just as Adam got us into this mess, nothing less than a new Adam could get us out. And that is what we have in Jesus. The Apostle Paul refers to Jesus as the “last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45). Like the first Adam, Jesus is God’s man, making his image known. He was given a world-filling mission by the Father that would require obedience and trust, even unto death. Like our first Adam, Jesus faced the serpent and his slippery lies (Luke 4:1–13). Like Adam, Jesus entered a garden of testing at Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36–46). And like Adam, Jesus did this as God’s appointed federal head and representative of his people, the new humanity, the Church. But unlike our first Adam, Jesus was faithful. Jesus trusted and obeyed every word spoken by the Father. Jesus rejected what was forbidden. Jesus protected his bride, the Church, from her enemy serpent. Unlike the first Adam, Jesus did not blame his bride, but rather took the blame for his bride (Genesis 3:12).
Jesus did all that Adam failed to do. And just as Adam’s sin brought death to all, so Jesus’ obedience brings life to all who trust in him. It is through his perfect obedience alone that we are made righteous (Isaiah 53:11). Jesus, by the Spirit, in the Church, is filling the earth and exercising his redemptive dominion. Jesus is our better Adam.
We fall on our knees to praise you, Abba, Father, our holy maker.
How often we fail to revel in the glory of a transcendent created order. A man, made in your likeness to rule for Christ, taking dominion.His bride, a suitable helper, God’s glorious answer. Their mission: Vocation. Propagation. Cultivation.
We, like Adam, have questioned your commands. We, like Eve, have been deceived. We, like Adam, consume that which God forbids. We, like Eve, recoil from headship. We, like Adam, are dead in our sin and in need of a savior.
Condemnation for all men: inflicted by a single trespass.Atonement for all men: bestowed by a single sacrifice.
While there is death in Adam, there is life in Christ. Sin plucked from a tree in a garden, covenant restored from a tree on a hill.
Our culture would love for us to scorn your architecture. Oh, that Calvary’s cross might drive us to embrace your design! Sturdy men sacrificing for their bride by providing, protecting, and accounting for her. Joyful women pouring out by warmly stewarding, curating, and taking care. Let us labor to your glory, declaring jubilant victory in word and action.
Put us to work, oh God. Use us to complete your redemptive mission. May we go forth as your Church, giving ourselves to the work of cultivation, propelled by the truth that death no longer reigns. We rejoice in our resurrection with the Son!