A Better Adam
1 Cor. 15:45-49
This morning we are continuing our series, “Encountering Christ in the Old Testament” and we will be looking at 1 Cor. 15 and Romans 5. Before we read can you tell me the two most influential people in all of history? Jesus – that’s always a good answer. But what about the second? Well, I’m sure you knew what we were going to talk about today but otherwise you might have guessed someone like Paul or Martin Luther or Thomas Jefferson or something like that. But the two are Jesus and Adam. These two are the most influential in all of history – and they are very similar in many ways. We shall see as we look at our texts today. I believe God wants to teach us much through looking at these two influential figures – things that will change our lives. So let’s pray as we prepare to read God’s word.
1 Corinthians 15: 20-22, 45-49 (ESV)
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive…… 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
This passage in 1 Cor. 15 is one of a few or more passages in the New Testament that link Adam, the first man with Jesus, the ultimate man, the better Adam as this message is entitled. As we talked about earlier these two are the most influential people in all of history and really all of humanity is related to them in some way. Now as we go we will look at some of the other passages about these two Adams. What I want to do today is to understand how Jesus’ life parallels Adam’s, yet was better. So we will look at how Jesus was a better Adam in his life, in his death and in his resurrection.
1. A Better Adam in His life.
How many here are pretty familiar with the story of Adam from Genesis 1-3? Good. You remember then that God made mankind in his own image. And you remember that God planted a beautiful royal garden paradise as a place of fellowship with God and blessing for Adam and the name of that garden was the garden of _____? And God made a woman as a complement to Adam. And he put two trees in the center of that garden – the tree of life that granted eternal life to all who ate of it and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And he told them they could eat of any tree they liked but the tree of knowledge of good and evil. This tree was forbidden to them. Do you remember that? And you remember the penalty for eating of this tree was death. And what happened next? That’s right, the serpent came and tempted them to eat of the tree. Now it is interesting that the term for knowledge of good and evil can also be interpreted discernment of good and evil. For it was at the site of this tree that they were called to discern good from evil by obeying God and resisting the devil. But what happened? Well, let’s reread the story.
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Genesis 3:1-6 (ESV)
So when Adam was to discern good and evil by resisting the devil and obeying God’s word he failed bitterly. Instead of obeying and then being able to take of the tree of life and live forever in God’s presence with all his descendants he plunged himself and all his posterity into darkness and separation from God. Adam as our first father and our representative failed utterly and all humanity failed with him – all our hopes rode on this champion, the very best human imagineable – without sin, pristine, intimate with God and innocent. Yet, this champion failed.
Fast forward thousands of years to a new champion. Same situation. He is standing before the same tempter. The tempter is using the same tactics..Let’s turn to Mt. 4 and see what happens.
1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written, “ ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “ ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’ ” 7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “ ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’ ” 11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. Matthew 4:1-11 (ESV)
This time the man did not fail. This man was different than the first, this last ultimate man is the God-man and he succeeded where Adam failed. He stood by the word of God and discerned and judged Satan to be wrong just as Adam should have done. And Jesus will complete his judgment of Satan by presiding over the ultimate judgment of Satan and his minions at the last day. Mankind is called to discern good and evil by condemning Satan and all his works and believing and obeying God. Adam failed in this, you and I have failed in this, have we not? I am constantly perplexed by my doubt and disobedience to God. Usually it is subtle but very real. Waking up the other morning I was aware of my doubt and ungratefulness. I was thinking more about what was wrong with life then about my Savior and his faithfulness and grace. I was longing after idols more than enjoying and obeying God. I constantly fail to believe and obey God and I regularly experience the same failure that Adam did. But Jesus never failed. He has succeeded by always believing and obeying the word of God with his whole heart and mind.
As a matter of fact, Jesus always and only did what he saw his father doing. He lived in continuous and intimate fellowship with the Father – so much so that on two occasions the Father pronounced, “This is my son, with whom I am well pleased.”
Throughout his life in all that he did he believed God and obeyed perfectly. He and only he succeeded in pleasing the Father in every way. But there is even more to the story. For his life’s obedience culminated in his death. Philippians 2:9-11 says, “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Jesus is a better Adam in his life and ultimately in his death.
2. A better Adam in His death.
Jesus obeyed to the point of death, even death on a horrible cross and even worse than that, in his dying he was the propitiation for our sins. That big word means that he appeased the just wrath of a perfectly wise and holy God. So his obedience was to the point of death on a cross accursed of God for the sins of his people – for our sins! And by this righteous death and atonement he reversed the effects of the first Adam. Let’s read Romans 5:12-21 (ESV) to learn more about this:
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. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. 18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Jesus was a better Adam in death. Adam’s disobedience was counted to the entire human race and therefore brought condemnation even to those who did not sin against a direct command like Adam or the Israelites who disobeyed the commands given through Moses. Do you see that in verses 12 to 14? All mankind, even those who don’t have the law of God are guilty in Adam. As our representative head we all failed in Adam. Don’t think you would have done any better. The best mankind had to offer failed. We all failed with Adam and received the due penalty – death and separation from God, for death is not merely the end of a physical life but it is the end of true spiritual life in relationship with God. The penalty for disbelief and disobedience, death, spread to all mankind. But Jesus’ obedience culminating in his obedience in his death on the cross brought justification and life for all men, all those who would believe. Read verses 15-19 with me again: 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. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. 18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.
There are these two most influential men in all of history. One brought condemnation for all men, the other brought righteousness, justification and life for all men. We are all attached to Adam by birth. We can be attached to Christ through faith. Adam’s life earns condemnation and death. Jesus life earns righteousness and eternal life. Which of these two do you want to be your champion? Jesus is a better Adam in his life, his death and in his resurrection.
3. A better Adam in His Resurrection
In the garden made for Adam were two important trees. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life. The tree of life brought eternal life and Adam was barred from this tree after his disobedience. He failed to earn the privilege of eating from this tree and therefore living forever.
But Christ succeeded where Adam failed and has earned the right to eat from the tree of life. Meredith Kline, theologian and late professor of OT at GCTS says it this way:
“Jesus, the second Adam, standing before his judgment tree could declare that he had overcome the temptation to eat the forbidden fruit and that he had accomplished the charge to judge Satan, and, therefore, he could claim his right of access to the tree of life.”
So after he had died for our sins and was buried in the tomb God approved of his complete and perfect obedience and awarded him eternal life. So God raised him from the dead on the third day, the first fruit of the resurrection, obtaining what was originally offered to Adam – the glorified and eternal state of humankind. Jesus earned the right to eat of the tree of life and offer this same tree to all who trust in Him and overcome. Revelation 2:7 says, “to the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” And we conquer as we trust in Christ and therefore endure to the end. And then we too will eat of this tree and experience eternal life in full measure.
Do you guys remember the movie, “Beauty and the Beast”? It was a favorite of ours when the kids were young.
This is what Paul is talking about in 1 Cor. 15. Let’s look at it again. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive…… 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.” Jesus earned the right to eat of this tree of life and usher in the new humanity – the purpose for which God made mankind – to enjoy Him and obey him forever in that paradise royal garden in His presence forever with new bodies free from sin and death and decay, glorious and amazing. Jesus’ resurrected body was physical, you could touch him, he ate and breathed and spoke. Yet, he could suddenly appear in different places. Also, he looked the same but somehow different because others often did not recognize him. It appears that his glorified body resembled his earthly body but was somehow different and better. This body folks is not the end state and never was to be the end state. This world, even before the fall of Adam was not the end state planned by God. God has always had the new heaven and the new earth in its glorified state as the plan.
Folks, this world is not the final destination. This is an interim solution. And now it is a broken interim solution. We are not to set our hearts on this interim state but on the final state that Jesus has earned for all who trust in Him.
When we moved to Maryland in 1994 God provided through an inheritance we received a beautiful home for us – a 4 bedroom, 2 ½ bath colonial with a built-in pool and teired gardens and a fruit orchard. We moved down in late May but didn’t close on the house until June. So for the first week or so we lived in temporary housing that consisted of two hotel rooms looking out on a pool. Now we had a good time in temporary housing. Daniel learned to swim in that pool. It was pretty comfortable and we had a cleaning lady who made the beds. Can you imagine how ridiculous it would have been if we decided we would rather stay in temporary housing than move into the new home? Well folks, you are living in temporary housing right now and you were never intended to live here forever. Oh, it is pretty good here in temporary housing but it is nothing compared to permanent housing if you are a believer. Your real and beautiful home awaits you. Jesus bought it for you and it is wonderful. It is right next to all your friends and God himself is at the center. There is no more suffering or sin or death there. Set your heart on that home – you will be there very soon – God will grant you the patience to wait and endure.
If you have not put your trust in Christ this temporary housing is indeed the best and you have every reason to fear what comes next. All of us have earned eternal death and separation from God and the fullness of that experience awaits all who reject Christ and continue in their sin. Why continue? Why not repent of sin and place your trust in Christ? Why not follow him? It makes no sense to do otherwise so I plead with you to reconsider and repent and find forgiveness and eternal life in Jesus the better Adam.
He is a better Adam in his life. He is a better Adam in his death. And he is a better Adam in his resurrection. Let us place all our hope in Him, our champion and follow Him in the eternal life he has given us. Let us tell as many others who will listen of who he is and what he has done, that they too may believe and live. And let us so follow him that our lives attract people to Him that they might come and hear about him and find their champion. He is the better Adam. Let’s pray.
 Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will, p. 133.
 The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
 Aland, K., Black, M., Martini, C. M., Metzger, B. M., Robinson, M., & Wikgren, A. (1993; 2006). The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (Interlinear with Morphology). Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft.
The Holy Bible : English Standard Version (Wheaton: Good News Publishers, 2001).