Jesus, The Last Adam
If you’ve been with us for any number of Sunday’s since the beginning of September, you’ll know that we’re going through a series called, “You Are Here: Finding Our Place in the Biggest Story Ever Told.” If you’re here for the first time this Sunday, welcome!
This series has been split into three parts: the first part ended a couple weeks ago, and it was a journey through the narrative of Scripture, and specifically the progression of the covenants God made with His people.
Last Sunday, Chris began the second section of the series, which takes a look at Jesus, and how He perfectly fulfills each of the covenants, and how His Kingdom has been established through those covenants. This section will last until the end of December.
The third section, which will begin in January and take us all the way through April, will explore how we fit into this story, and how we can live in light of it.
Today, we’ll be going all the way back to the beginning, and seeing how Jesus is the Last (or Second) Adam, and how He fills all the roles Adam had, and surpasses Adam in the fulfillment of those roles.
In the Bible, there are two places that make a direct comparison between Christ and Adam. The first one is Romans 5:12-21, which Chris just read for us. The other is found in 1 Corinthians 15:45-49. This is where we get the phrase “the Last Adam”: “Thus is it written, ‘The first Adam became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving Spirit.” The Scriptures invite us to draw this comparison between Adam and Christ. Paul knew the Scriptures like the back of his hand, so he knew exactly how Adam and Christ were similar, and how they differed.
Where Adam Failed, Jesus Succeeded
Romans 5:14 says, “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.” A “type,” in the Bible, is used to foreshadow a similar but greater thing that’s coming. An easy example is that the tabernacle was a “type” of the temple. The temple served the same purpose as the tabernacle, but it was more splendid and marvellous than the tabernacle, and it was permanently in one place. It is in these passages—Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:45-49—that we’re introduced to the idea that where Adam failed, Jesus succeeded. Throughout the New Testament, we see several ways that Jesus succeeded in ways that Adam failed, and how Jesus surpassed Adam in everything else.
First, we’ll see that Jesus perfectly fulfilled in a far better way than Adam did, Adam’s roles of prophet, priest, and king. Second, we’ll see that although each was tempted, while Adam failed and gave in, bringing sin to the entire world, Jesus resisted all temptation to sin, and even defeated the power of sin and darkness forever. The third thing we’re able to see is that while Adam’s disobedience brought death and condemnation to all of mankind, Christ’s perfect obedience brings life and forgiveness to all who believe in Him.
Fulfilling Adam’s Roles
Nearly two months ago, Chris preached about creation. In that sermon, he outlined three roles that Adam played. Those were the roles of prophet, priest, and king. So for our first point, we’re going to consider those roles and how Jesus fulfilled each of them.
When we looked at creation, we considered how Adam was a prophet. Looking back to Genesis, we can see that Adam was a prophet in a couple of ways.
First, we can see that Adam was a prophet in that he communicated God’s word to God’s people. Now, at the beginning, God’s people were only two: there was Adam himself, and his wife Eve. So even though “God’s people” was a small community, Adam still brought God’s word to them. God gave Adam the command not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. And we can assume that Adam communicated that very command to Eve. We have no account of God saying the command in Eve’s company. We don’t have an account of Adam telling Eve the command either, but it’s safe to assume that he told her the command. Adam brought the word of God to the people of God.
We also know from the books of prophecy that one of the roles of the prophets was to bring God’s word to His people, so that they would turn back to Him. The prophets had the job of turning people away from their sin, and back toward God. The word for this is repentance. They were to bring the people to repentance, and warn them of coming judgment.
Now, Adam knew that if they ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they would surely die. That was the coming judgment. Yet, when Eve offered Adam the fruit, he didn’t rebuke her. Genesis 3:6 says that “[Eve] gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” Adam failed to remind his wife of what would happen if they sinned. What’s more, he even fell into the same sin as she did.
When we look at the life of Jesus, we know that He was a prophet because He brought God’s Word to His people. In fact, He is even called “The Word.” John 1 tells us that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” We know that that Word that John was talking about is Jesus Himself.
Hebrews 1:1-2 tells us that “God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…” Jesus brings us the Word of God, and is Himself that very Word!
Yet Jesus wasn’t just like Adam in the prophetic sense. Jesus surpassed him as a prophet. Where Adam failed to bring God’s people to repentance and remind Eve of the truth, Jesus successfully did that for all of us. Jesus spent a lot of His time on earth preaching, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” And not only did He preach repentance, He also resisted temptation, and lived His whole life perfectly sinless. He provided the only way for God’s people to truly and eternally turn back to the Lord, for “no one comes to the Father except through [Jesus]” (John 14:6).
Where Adam failed as a prophet, Jesus succeeded. And where Adam did succeed, Jesus surpassed him marvellously.
Another way we can see that Jesus is like Adam and better than him, is in the role of priest.
Again, referring back to the sermon on creation, you’ll remember how Adam was like a priest. The most obvious way we see this is through the similarities between the tabernacle/temple and the garden of Eden. There were many parallels that invite us to view the Garden of Eden as a sanctuary for God, just like the tabernacle and the temple would be.
The priests’ main task in the tabernacle—and later in the temple—was to work it and keep it. These are the exact same two words that God told Adam when He commanded him about the garden. Adam was to work and keep the garden. So the priests were like Adam because they worked and kept the tabernacle. They were priests in the line of Adam. If the garden of Eden was the first tabernacle, then Adam was the first priest.
Yet, we know that Adam failed to do that well. Adam may have worked the garden, but he sure didn’t keep it very well. In the very fact that the serpent was able to come into the garden and so easily deceive Eve tells us that Adam didn’t do his job in keeping the garden.
However, we know that Jesus did crush the head of the serpent when He died and rose again. Next week, Chris is preaching about how Jesus is the promised offspring of the woman, and all the ways He took on the serpent, so for today, we only need to know that Jesus succeeded in keeping the serpent out, whereas Adam failed to do so.
There are several texts in the New Testament that tell us that Jesus is a High Priest—Hebrews 5 and following and 1 Timothy 2:5-6 are a few that tell us about the priesthood of Christ. Further, where Adam’s sin separated us from God, Christ’s perfect obedience tore the veil in the temple and gave all of us access to the Most High God, forever.
Where Adam failed as a priest, Jesus succeeded. And even where Adam did succeed, Jesus surpassed him marvellously.
There was one more role that Adam played, and again, didn’t quite fill properly, and that was the role of king.
The first way we know that Adam was a king, comes from knowing that he was made in the image of God. You’ll remember that in the cultural norms around the time that Moses wrote the Pentateuch—the first five books of the Bible—in those days, kings referred to as being “images” of the gods that they worshiped. So when the people read that God made Adam in His image, they would have made the connection, and understood Adam to be a king who would rule on earth as God’s representative.
The second way we know that Adam was a king comes from what God commanded him: in Genesis 1:28 God says to Adam, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” God commanded Adam to be the king over all of creation.
We know that Adam failed in this because when the serpent tempted Eve, Adam did not have dominion over it. He did not exercise the authority that God gave him, and instead allowed the serpent to have some measure of dominion over them.
Jesus, as we know, is the perfect King. In Gabriel’s announcement to Mary that she would bear the Saviour, he told her that “the Lord God [would] give to him the throne of his father David, and he [would] reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:32-33). It’s pretty clear there that Jesus is the king.
Jesus’ kingship is one of those “already-not-yet” things. He is the king, and He reigns in our hearts, if we’ve decided to follow Him. He is sitting at the right hand of the Father, as we speak. We know that from Colossians 3:1. Yet, we also know that there is a coming fulfillment of the kingdom of God, where Christ will rule completely.
There’s another similarity here, that tells us that Jesus is the king. The Scriptures tell us that Jesus is the image of God, just like Adam was. So, for the same reason that being God’s image made Adam the king, it also makes Jesus the king. Yet Jesus is not only like Adam, but He surpasses Adam here, too. Hebrews tells us that Jesus is the “radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he uphold the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3). Hebrews 1 actually tells us a lot about the Kingship of Christ. But, we can’t explore too much of that now, because Chris is going to be preaching a whole sermon on how Jesus is the promised king in the line of David, so we’ll hear more about that then.
For now, it’s sufficient for us to know that Christ not only fulfilled the Adamic role, but far surpassed Adam in His fulfillment of it.
So we know from these three roles that Adam fulfilled, that Jesus was like him. And Jesus wasn’t only like Adam. He fulfilled those roles in a far better way than Adam could have. As the last Adam, Jesus fills all three of those roles, in a way that Adam couldn’t.
Another way we can see from the Scriptures that Adam and Christ are similar, is in the fact that they were each tempted by Satan. It is here that we can see the greatest failure of Adam, and also one of the greater triumphs of Christ.
Adam’s temptation is quite well-known. The third sermon in our series highlighted it specifically, and its implications on our lives. In the great catastrophe of what we call “The Fall,” Adam and Eve were tempted to eat a fruit which God had commanded him not to eat, and they ate it. Genesis tells us that this fruit was “good for food, . . . a delight to the eyes, . . . and was to be desired to make one wise” (Genesis 3:6). The book of 1 John tells us not to love such things, which he says are “the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of life” (Genesis 2:16). There’s a parallel there, which we also heard about when we went through 1 John this summer. And when Adam and Eve saw this fruit, which they were commanded not to eat, they took it and ate it.
Jesus, as we know, was also tempted. Just before beginning His ministry here on earth, He was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by Satan. Satan tempted Jesus with three things: bread when He was hungry; safety in times of danger; and dominion over the whole world, if only He would bow down and worship the devil. These three can also be sees as being “good for food, a delight to the eyes, and desirable for wisdom,” and “the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of life.”
Jesus resisted all the temptations that Satan brought to Him. We also know from Hebrews 4:15 that Jesus was tempted in every way, yet remained without sin for the entirety of His life.
Not only did Jesus resist temptation. He also defeated the serpent once and for all, which Chris is looking at next Sunday.
“In Christ” or “In Adam”?
And that brings us to our most important stop this morning.
There’s one way in which Adam and Christ are compared that brings all of us hope. All of the things we’ve considered so far don’t really mean anything for us until we consider this last point.
This last comparison, though, is actually a contrast. Where Adam did one thing, Christ did the exact opposite.
Let’s look again at Romans 5. We know from earlier, that Adam was tempted and gave in, bringing sin and death into the world, and to the entire human race. What we haven’t considered yet is the consequences of that for all of humanity.
And this is it: the consequence of Adam’s one sin is that you and me are both condemned to death. It says it right here in Romans 5: “Sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned . . . many died through one man’s trespass . . . For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, . . . because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man . . . one trespass led to condemnation for all men . . . by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners. . . .”
So because of Adam’s sin, you and I are literally damned. We are all destined to suffer eternally because of Adam’s (and our own) sin.
Yet, we know that even though Adam was a type of Christ, Jesus is so much greater than Adam. Whereas Adam brought death to all of mankind by way of his one act of disobedience, Jesus Christ, by His one act of perfect obedience (and by His life of perfect obedience), brings life to all who find faith in Him.
1 Corinthians 15:22 tells us that “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” This is the greatest way in which Adam failed, and the single most wonderful way that Jesus succeeds and surpasses Adam. We all can have the reward that Jesus won on the cross, instead of receiving the punishment that Adam incurred through his sin. This is not only because of Jesus’ active obedience in dying on the cross. This is also because of Jesus’ passive obedience, or His entire life of perfect obedience. So we can have the reward that Jesus won through His perfect life of obedience and sacrificial death on the cross.
And the best part is, we don’t have to do anything except believe. Believe, and this free gift is yours!
Because of what Jesus did on the cross—He died, laying down His life for us, His bride—we have the forgiveness of our sins. And, while we once were damned, we now are set free!
For those of us here who are in Christ, this is wonderful news. And it’s wonderful news for those who don’t know who Christ is! Anyone can come to Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins
I can’t think of a better way to end today than by what we’re doing next. Two people are being baptized this morning. By doing this, they are declaring to all of us here that they have believed in Jesus Christ, and that they trust Him for their salvation. They are also proclaiming that they will follow Him and obey His commands, and in doing so they’re asking us to hold them accountable to that.
Further, baptism is incredibly symbolic. We just talked about how in Adam all are dead, but in Christ, all are made alive. Baptism is symbolic of someone putting to death their old sinful self, and being raised to new life in Jesus Christ. Romans 6:4 says, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”
Could there be any better way to end this morning by celebrating the new life these two have found in Christ? I don’t think so! So, let’s pray, and then we’ll celebrate the baptism of these two!