The Wall. Built in a day - demolished in a day

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Sermon St Mary's Comberton 10th February 2008

Romans 5:12-21; Matt 4:1-11

<< Christ is the Second Adam who has broken the chain of sin and death by offering us the free gift of life >>


On the morning of Sunday 13th August 1961, residents of Berlin woke up to discover that their city had changed completely. Streets were being torn up, barricades of paving stones were being built, tanks posted at key locations and in only 24 hours, 96 miles of barbed wired fence was erected – separating the 2 halves of the city East Berlin and West Berlin. The Berlin Wall was born.

The actions of that single day gave birth to an era – fear / separation / escape attempts.

Wall immediate consequences – families separated; Communism in East Germany was bolstered; contact with the curtailed; people were shot trying to cross the wall.

Over the years the barrier was reinforced. A second fence was added to the first, creating a 100m no-go area. Later a concrete wall 3.5m high was added.

Many of you will remember...

Equally dramatic way in which the wall fell.

Again, the actions of a single day proved tremendously significant.

November 9th, 1989, The East German Minister of Propaganda, Gunter Schabowski announced that the border would be opened for private trips abroad – but neglected to mention that this would not take place until the following day. Within minutes, thousands of East Berliners had flooded to checkpoints and were demanding to cross the border. The guards, confused themselves and overwhelmed by sheer numbers of people could do nothing but let them pass. The wall had fallen.

And so the actions of that single day gave birth to another era – freedom, democracy, United Germany. Within a year East and West Germany were formally united as a single country. The wall was attacked by citizens wielding sledgehammers and eventually demolished. And a concert held on Christmas day featured Beethoven's famous 9th symphony – the words “Ode to Joy” changed to “Ode to freedom”.

2 momentous days which ushered in 2 contrasting eras.

St Paul – Romans; involved, many would say too complicated

Central thought of this reading very simple.

2 momentous days which ushered in 2 contrasting eras.

First Momentous Day: Adam in Garden. – succumbing to temptation and eating of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the garden of Eden. Ushered in the era of sin and death.

Second Momentous Day: Jesus Christ in Garden of Gethsemane– resisting the temptation to save his own life, went obediently to the cross. So paid the price for man's sin and ushered in an era of justification and life.

Reading is difficult – because Paul building up to what he wants to say: almost but not quite says it.

v18-19 central “Therefore just as one man's trespass [Adam] led to condemnation for all, so one man's act of righteousness [Christ] leads to justification and life for all. For just as by the one man's disobedience [Adam] the many were made sinners, so by one man's obedience [Christ] the many will be made righteous.”


| ADAMThe Fall | MOSESGiving of the Law | CHRISTDeath and Resurrection |

<------------------------------- Sin and death ------------------------------------> Free gift of life ------>
<------------------------------- Condemnation for all --------------------------> Justification for all ------>

2 main events (Adam / Christ)

2 eras


Human nature was no longer innocent but sinful.

We know that don't we –

  • One more cookie from the jar;
  • Men - Website with scantily clad women strange allure;
  • Easier to turn on the TV and pour ourselves a drink than to campaign for electricity and clean drinking water for the poor.

If only Adam had known... one sin set off a chain reaction. Nuclear reactor – one atom splits; particle hits another atom ,causes that to split etc etc - --> meltdown. Disaster.

JESUS CHRIST – second Adam.

God come to earth but Fully human. Here was a man who did not yield to temptation.

Gospel reading – interesting first temptation to eat something.

Did not try to snatch power, but humbly and willingly went to the cross.

Side issue – MOSES & LAW (important in Romans) – v13-14 and v20

sin more obvious with law.

v20 “But law came in, with the result that the trespass multiplied; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” –

Crescendo. Berlin Wall reinforced – grew.

In humankind's worst sin (rejecting Jesus), the full extend of God's grace was made known.

The 2 eras and the “all”

Death for all.

Life/justification for all.

Simplified picture.

Place of faith.

Next 2 weeks –

Abraham clearly chronologically in the first era, but through faith is an inheritor of the promises of the 2nd era.

Challenge for us

to Worship

humbled by God's generosity


Communion – free gift.

O Loving wisdom of our God!

when all was sin and shame

a second Adam to the fight

and to the rescue came.

O Wisest love! That flesh and blood,

which did in Adam fail,

should strive afresh against the foe,

should strive and should prevail.

And now we give you thanks, because in Christ the Second Adam you have overturned the old order of sin and death and have made grace abound in the free gift of life.

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