By Pastor Don Strand
Two weeks ago, in part one of Exalting Christ in Your Life, I wrote that we exalt Him because Jesus is the “Son of God.” Last week in part two we saw the significance of the title Jesus used most often describe Himself, “the Son of Man”, and why He did so. Both of these titles help us grasp more fully the fact that His first coming was the fulfillment of a promise (covenant) between the Father, Son, and Spirit to redeem a cursed creation that was the result of the first man, Adam’s, sin. And the third title given to Jesus in Scripture points us to His work to undo the curse Adam had brought about. Paul calls Jesus “the last Adam.” The last Adam is the third and final title we will seek to understand, and by doing so will deepen our love and worship of Jesus the Redeemer.
At creation, God set Adam in the Garden of Eden and appointed him as vice-regent over the creation. God gave Adam the mandate to “work and keep” the creation along with the one created out of his side, Eve. She was to complement Adam and by the two, joined together, were to provide a picture of the full-orbed nature of God and to fill creation with God’s image (Genesis 1:28; 2:15, 19).
There was just one requirement within this paradise of perfection; that Adam should trust in the goodness and provision of the Lord God. And as a measure of his obedience, God placed the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the midst of the garden. Adam and Eve were not to eat of the fruit of this tree under penalty of death (Genesis 2:16-17). But, in case you don’t know the story, Adam failed to keep the one Law of God. He allowed his wife to take and eat, and he too ate from the tree thus violating God’s “covenant of works.” And with this original sin, the creation and everything in it, including Adam and Eve was justly cursed by the infinitely holy God. Although Adam and Eve did not physically die immediately upon eating from the tree, they died spiritually and eventually died physically as well.
But God is incredibly gracious. For on the occasion of this first sin, in the midst of the just curse pronounced on all involved, God also promised a redeemer who would one day come and undo the curse Adam had brought upon creation by his sin. It would be an offspring of the woman. From her would one day come someone who would crush the serpent Satan. And even though this offspring would be wounded, He would fatally crush the head the serpent (Genesis 3:15).
As year after year, century after century, millennia after millennia passed, the Bible tells us that there was always one line of offspring from Eve to whom God revealed Himself by the giving of faith. From Seth to Enos, from Enos to Cainan, from Cainan to Mahalaleel to Jared, to Enoch, to Methuselah to Lamech to Noah to Shem. On and on, down the line, as Luke carefully records in his gospel, God provided and protected one who walked spiritually with God (Luke 3:23-38). Until finally, in the fullness of time, Paul says “God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons and daughters.
Why would God do this? Why would His ‘begotten not made’ Son, the eternal second Person of the Trinity take on the form of a human, to become incarnate which means “to become in flesh”? The answer is so that He could fulfill all righteousness. Only Jesus, the eternal, infinitely holy, second person of the Trinity could take come to earth by taking the form of a man and perfectly keep the law of God. Only the Son, who was one with the Father for all eternity; who was with His Father at the moment of creation had the power to be totally obedient to His Father for every second of every day of His earthly life. And in so doing, He fulfills the requirement of trusting in the provision and goodness of God fully. This is what the first Adam failed to do. This is what the last Adam accomplished.
Writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul explains. “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 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. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:18–21, ESV)
When Jesus gave His life on the cross, it was a sinless life. Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God veiled in human flesh, so He was able to live in total obedience (sinless) thus fulfilling the Covenant of Works given to Adam. Jesus was the only qualified individual to give His life for the remission of sin (Leviticus 17:11; Revelation 12:11). And in doing so, Jesus redeemed all those who trust in Him for salvation.
Paul states this biblical truth in his first letter to the church in Corinth. He explains: “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.” (1 Corinthians 15:49, ESV). This promise for us to be given the “image of Christ” is a tremendous Biblical truth. It means that those who put their trust in Jesus, each one an image bearer of the man of dust (the first Adam), will one day bear the image of the man of heaven (Jesus). And all those who bear His image of perfect righteousness, will be with Christ forever in His Father’s kingdom.
The “last Adam”. That is the stunning truth of the purpose of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. And all who trust in Him will follow Him into the eternal Kingdom of God. This title is the final reason we should put Christ first in our lives. His gift of fulfilling the Covenant of Works that cause our condemnation is the reason we exalt Christ. He has secured our place with God for all eternity. What the first Adam failed to do, the last Adam has accomplished. May we exalt Christ each and every day of our earthly lives.