- Sacred Music
The 2nd Sunday after Pentecost
June 14, 2020
# 571 God Loved the World so that He Gave
# 562 All Mankind Fell in Adam’s Fall
# 392 God Loves Me Dearly
Almighty, eternal God, in the Word of Your apostles and prophets You have proclaimed to us Your saving will. Grant us faith to believe Your promises that we may receive eternal salvation; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Two Adams and You
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. (Romans 5:19)
I. The First Adam
By the will of God, the first Adam was brought into the world. He didn’t bring himself. It was God who created him out of the dust of the ground, who breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. God is, by nature, a servant; and so, He created Adam in order to care for him. He put Adam in the perfect Garden to live, gave him the perfect woman as his comparable helper, and made them stewards of all creation. He blessed them with the ability to be fruitful and to multiply. God—the Servant. Astounding.
He also gave Adam His Word. He told the man everything to do in order to keep things perfect: namely, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen 2:16-17). That was it: “Eat from every tree except that one.” That was all Adam needed to hear. That was all he had to tell the wife and kids. That was the entire catechism in the Garden of Eden. The rest came perfectly naturally. Adam and Eve just did what they were supposed to do without having to think twice. There was no sin. In that perfect world, there would be no need for them to discipline their thoughts, because their thoughts were perfect.
There would be no jealousy about the neighbor’s house, no coveting another’s wife. There would be no prejudice toward others—there wouldn’t even be that initial judgmental thought that assumed the worst about somebody. No impatience, no anger, no greed. No fear. No failure to help or serve the other. It was a perfect world, and holiness was the status quo. Adam and Eve were righteous. They had wills free of sin; and free of sin, they just naturally did holy things.
It didn’t last long. Adam and Eve listened to the serpent; and rather than be content to know only good, they disobeyed God to know—and be—evil. The consequences were devastating. “To dust you shall return,” said the Lord, and our epistle fleshes out the words.
Adam and Eve, created for eternal life in body and soul, would now die in body and soul. Where they’d been holy, they were now unholy; and where they’d just naturally done the righteous thing without a second thought, they would now do the unrighteous thing before they knew what they were doing. No more free-will: they were enslaved to sin. Where they’d been created under God’s blessing, they were now under His condemnation: because of their sin, they could no longer be in His presence—not in the Garden, not in heaven. They would be dead forever—not unconscious or annihilated, but ever-aware that they were no longer with the One who gives life.
The curse was not just upon them, but upon their children. By nature, their descendants would not want to be in the presence of God. Left to their own sinful minds, they’d bow down to golden calves and stone gods, greed, immorality and even crass YouTube videos; but they would not bow down to the one true, living God. Rather than run to His throne for mercy, they’d prefer to build their own tower of Babel and Sodom and Gomorrah to justify their sin. Rather than covet holiness, they would naturally pursue sin and death. They’d be born dead in sin, blind in sin, enslaved in sin.
That death was not God’s desire, but the consequence of sin; and behold the mercy of God. He did not abandon those who betrayed Him so; rather, even before He declared the curse, He spoke the promise: He declared that the Seed would be born of the woman, that He would crush the devil’s head. The promise was made. The Second Adam would come.
II. The Second Adam
By the will of God, the second Adam came into the world: not formed from dust, but conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. Begotten of the Father from eternity, He was born into a world sinful beyond our comprehension. Why did He come? To shut it down? To give mankind the judgment so richly deserved? No. He came to keep the promise. He came to win salvation. He came to reverse the curse.
The almighty Son of God became flesh, just like you. He became flesh to stand with you—to stand for you, really. Remember Jesus when he was tempted by Satan in the wilderness. He was not there to set the example, to show you what you should be doing. You already have the Law. You already know what you should be doing—the problem is that you don’t do it as you ought. No, Jesus was in the wilderness to do what Adam failed to do.
When the devil spoke in Eden, Adam failed to speak God’s Word in return. In the wilderness, Jesus didn’t fail: He spoke His Word to thwart Satan. Tempted by the serpent, Adam sinned; so Jesus went into the wilderness and resisted all temptation, remained sinless.
Throughout His life, Jesus lived without sin. The Second Adam did what the first Adam failed to do. He was holy and righteous—yet He was the Friend of sinners. He was their Savior, and He lived His life for them. He also died His death for them. His crucifixion was not just the hateful act of sinners against the Son of God. Behind the veil of man’s cruelty, God was at work to save. At the cross, Jesus suffered God’s judgment for the sin of the world. He died in the place of sinners. And He rose again three days later.
This is the joy that St. Paul spells out in Romans 5: Adam sinned, so Jesus became flesh specifically not to sin. Adam broke the Law, so Jesus fulfilled it. Adam trespassed, so Jesus stayed in bounds. Adam disobeyed, so Jesus obeyed perfectly. Adam brought death, so Jesus conquered death and restored life. Adam brought the debt of sin; Jesus paid the debt so that He might offer grace freely. Adam brought judgment and guilt on mankind; Jesus brought justification, declaring “innocent” all who believe in Him. Jesus came to undo all the harm that Adam brought. He came to reverse the curse. He came to stand with sinners, stand for them, die for them. But this isn’t just something from the past, just a nice memory or history lesson. The Second Adam is still at work today.
By the will of God, YOU were brought into the world. You, like all people, entered this world as a Baby. Babies teach us a lot about God’s grace and graciousness. They’ve done nothing to be born—that’s done to them. They’re completely helpless—they have to be fed, clothed, changed, burped, held, transported, because they can’t do anything for themselves. God gives them parents and siblings and others to do the serving and providing. About all they do is receive. You give them food—they eat it. You give them a warm blanket—they snuggle. They don’t even understand the purpose of food or blankets—they simply receive what is given. They never ask how much they owe or worry about strings attached. Little wonder that Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it” (Lk. 18:17).
That describes your entry into the world – your first birth. You are, by nature, a descendant of the first Adam. You were not exempt from the curse of sin. I’m sure you were a cute kid. But you still were descendant of the first Adam. You’re sinful. And you would grow up to demonstrate this. No doubt there were times when your parents may have wanted to lock you up. To use the language of our text, you were guilty of sin. Like all who are born, yours is a life with trespass, disobedience and transgression. It was a life under condemnation. “By one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners,” says our text. You were not immune. It is simply the way things are in a sinful world.
But that is not the way or the will of the Lord. We rejoice today that Christ came to redeem the world. We especially rejoice that He has come to redeem you. In Holy Baptism, He declares, “you were born a son of the first Adam. Now you are born again, born anew as My beloved child. Adam’s trespass drove you from Me; today I gather you in”.
God has reversed the curse, paid the debt, set you free, gathered you in. Thus, daily you rejoice to confess your sins, because daily He declares, “I have carried your sin and guilt so that you might be born again. I strengthen your faith with grace this day. Sin and death have no claim on you— not now, not ever. I claim you: you are Mine.”
And so you are His. All of this is true because of this one free gift, won by the Second Adam: you are forgiven for all of your sins. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen