Genesis 2:7-8; 1 Corinthians 15:20-23
Let’s think about two modern sayings where ‘Adam’ features.
We say “as old as Adam” when we mean ancient. And, at least whenever I use it, it has the connotation of intransigent. If there’s a stubborn fact of existence and if it has ever been thus, it’s “as old as Adam.” Frustrations with work, the battle of the sexes, in-growing toenails – as old as Adam.
When it’s used in that sense, there are overtones of blame being laid on Adam too. Which, I guess is appropriate. He is the ultimate fall-guy after all.
There’s another common phrase: “He doesn’t know me from Adam.” It means “he doesn’t know me at all.” You could say “he doesn’t know me from a sack of potatoes.” But it’s interesting that “Adam” is the one we’d like to be distinguished from isn’t it? A stranger needs to know my difference from Adam. But right now I might as well be Adam to this person.
I find that fascinating. Because in the Bible, Adam is both ancient and universal.
‘Adam’ is the Hebrew for man. And we could think of his name denoting three things:
‘a man’ – a real and actual human being
‘Adam’ – his personal name. That particular man who did those particular things.
‘man’ – in general. Humanity itself.
Adam is 1) a member of the human race, 2) a particular person, but also, 3) he is humanity.
Think about it. At the head of everyone’s family tree stands Adam. As we’ll see, even Eve comes from Adam. We all find our origin in this one fountainhead. Trace us back to the source and we’ll find the whole human race comprehended in Adam.
Watching Adam walk around the garden is therefore watching humanity walking around the garden.
To put it in language we’ve already considered, he is the original tree who bore bad fruit. And I am from his seed. All the genealogies of the Bible could be re-written: Adam begat Adam begat Adam – all after his own kind.
Therefore there’s a deep sense in which you won’t know me from Adam. Because I am Adam. He is the human race. And I’m a chip off the old block.
Now if Adam lived in righteousness and joy before the LORD, this would be good news. All is well with the world when Man is rightly related to God. But there’s bad news.
We’ll explore this next week, but in Genesis 3 Adam becomes estranged from the life of God. He becomes like a Christmas tree – perhaps vibrant for a while but cut off from the Source, devoid of life and decaying by the minute. You can dress it up with all kinds of decorations but it’s not going to last. And we all know what happens to such trees.
Yet, by nature, all of us share in that humanity. We are born into that kind of human life. Flourishing for a moment but soon to perish apart from our Life-Source.
Step forward the true Man.
Jesus Christ is described as another Adam. He is “the Last Adam” to answer the first (1 Corinthians 15:45). And He is
a member of the human race;
that particular man who did those particular things, and
The true Man takes on our humanity and lives our life before God in true righteousness and joy. He stands at the Head of another kind of life. Where Adam failed, Christ succeeded. This Man then offers us His humanity to share in. We can be grafted into Him.
We were born once in Adam, but Jesus invites us to be born again into His kind of human life.
Ultimately there’s only two kinds of human being. Adam-people and Christ-people. If we’ve never come to Christ to share in His life then, no matter how we’ve “decorated” our lives, we share Adam’s life, Adam’s status and Adam’s fate.
But anyone who comes to Christ for new life is immediately adopted into something astounding: we share in Christ. In Christ Himself. The Bible calls us a part of His very body! And we have, right now, Christ’s life, Christ’s status and Christ’s fate. Alleluia!
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