Adam. Moses. Elijah. Joseph. Melchizedek. There are a number of individuals in the Old Testament whose lives foreshadow the life of Jesus. There was Moses, the Lawgiver and the Saviour to all the slaves in Egypt. There was Elijah, the prophet who spoke out against the evil King Ahab in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Long before Moses there was Joseph the Dreamer, who God made to be the saviour of the nation of Egypt and all the descendants of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob when seven years of famine came. Even earlier there was the enigmatic Melchizedek who was both a king and a priest and who gave his blessing to Abraham. Through the eye of faith we can see that the lives of these important individuals actually pointed forward to the coming of our Saviour, Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. In certain respects, each of their lives were similar to the life of Jesus. We will be looking at Moses, Elijah, Joseph Melchizedek over the next month. Today we are going to begin, quite appropriately, at the beginning by thinking about Adam. In what ways was Jesus similar to Adam? More significantly, in what ways was Jesus different to Adam? What can we learn when we compare Adam and Jesus? And what does that mean for our lives and our salvation?
This approach to understanding the Bible is called typology. The character in the Old Testament is called a type, or a pattern, in Greek a tupos of Christ. From the similarities in their lives, or sometimes from the contrasts, we can learn more about Jesus and about God’s amazing masterplan of salvation. We can see from the ways God worked in their lives, how God worked through Jesus.
Paul actually uses this word type, or pattern, in Romans 5:14. He says that Adam was a pattern of the one to come, that is Jesus.
Romans 5 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.
(Message) But Adam, who got us into this, also points ahead to the One who will get us out of it.
We know Paul is appealing to typology when he uses two little words. “As …. So.” “Just as ….. so in the same way.” As it was with Adam, so it is with Christ. Watch out and see how many times that line of reasoning, “As … So” appears in our verses this morning.
The similarities between Adam and Jesus obvious. They were both human beings. Adam was the first human being. Paul calls Jesus the last Adam. Adam was created in the image of God. Jesus WAS the image of God, God born as a human being. Physically, Adam was the father, the head of the Old Creation, the ancestor of all human beings. Spiritually Jesus is the father, the head of the New Creation the ancestor of all who have eternal life through him. These are some of the similarities.
But it’s actually the differences between Adam and Jesus which are more important. Adam got us into the mess we are in. Jesus got us out of it. So what can we learn from those contrasts?
1 Adam disobeyed God but Jesus obeyed God
Romans 5 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
The book of Genesis tells us that right at the very beginning of humanity when God created Adam and Eve and put them in the Garden of Eden, he gave them one simple rule to obey. “Do not eat of the fruit from the tree of good and evil.” Just one rule. And they disobeyed it.
Genesis 3 6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realised that they were naked;
By that one act of disobedience Adam and Eve spoiled the perfection of God’s creation. And that ruined the relationship between them and God.
Genesis 3 8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’
10 He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.’
So Adam’s disobedience brought sin into the world. In contrast, Jesus always obeyed God, completely in every way, and however great the cost. Two of his apostles, who probably knew Jesus as well as anybody except Mary his mother, wrote this.
Peter said 1 Peter 2 21 22 ‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.’
John wrote 1 John 3:5 “In him is no sin.”
The letter to the Hebrews says
Hebrews 4 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.
Paul said in Philippians 2 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!
2 Corinthians 5 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
So here is the first dramatic contrast between Adam and Jesus. Adam disobeyed God, but Jesus obeyed God completely. Adam brought sin into the world. Jesus was without sin.
2 Adam brought condemnation and guilt and judgement but Jesus brought righteousness
Romans 5:16 tells us that the judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.
18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.
The consequence of Adam’s act of disobedience is that all human beings ever since stand condemned before God because of what the church through the ages has called “original sin.” Firstly, we are tainted with Adam’s rebellion. We are separated from God by the guilt we have inherited from Adam. But secondly we have inherited a bias towards sin. Faced with the choice between doing what is wrong and doing what is right, human beings have this tendency to choose to do wrong. As a result, no human being has ever lived a perfect and sinless life. The only exception to that was the Lord Jesus Christ. Adam’s disobedience has brought condemnation on us all, but Jesus’s obedience has brought us justification and made us righteous in God’s eyes. Jesus has put us right with God. Adam got us into the mess we are in, but Jesus has got us out of it! Adam brought us condemnation. But by his death on the cross Jesus bought us salvation.
3 Adam brought death but Jesus brought life
Romans 5 12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—
God never intended for human beings to die. But sin separates us from God and physical death is the inevitable consequence of being separated from God who is the source of all life. As Ezekiel 18:20 says, “the soul who sins will die.” And because we all disobey God in many different ways, every human being dies. This is why we all need Jesus to save us.
15 … For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!
We die because we follow in Adam’s footsteps. But despite our many sins, God’s grace comes to us through Jesus Christ.
As Romans 6:23 says, 23 … the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 5 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!
Through Jesus, God forgives our sin. But more than that, God’s amazing grace means that we all “reign in life” through what Jesus has done for us. Reign in life! Adam brought death into the world but Jesus brings life, life in all its fulness, eternal life which not even death can take away.
Rom 5:21 … just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Paul uses this same approach of typology comparing Adam and Jesus in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 to give us our fourth point of contrast between Adam and Jesus. We have seen the giveaway words a few times already. “As …. So.” “Just as ….. so in the same way.”
Take a look at 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 and 44-49
See how many more instances of “as … so” you can spot in these few verses.
4 Adam give physical life but Jesus gives spiritual life.
Whereas Adam brought death into the world, Jesus brings resurrection life.
1 Corinthians 15 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
Adam brought death to all his descendants. But Jesus brings life to all who follow him.
1 Corinthians 15 45 So it is written: ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven.
So whilst Adam had physical life, Jesus has life in the spirit. In that sense Adam was just the dust of the earth whereas Jesus belongs to heaven and gives the life of heaven to all who are saved by him. Adam’s physical life was the pattern for all human life. In contrast, Christ’s resurrection life is the pattern for the lives of everybody who puts their trust in him.
1 Corinthians 15 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.
So all human beings follow in Adam’s footsteps. That is why we need saving. But by God’s grace those who put their trust in Jesus will become like him and share in his resurrection life. That is how Jesus saves us.
22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
Message “Everybody dies in Adam; everybody comes alive in Christ.”
Adam gave physical life but Jesus offers us spiritual life. A verse in that great 18th century hymn by Isaac Watts, “Jesus shall reign where’er the sun” puts it perfectly.
“Where he displays his healing power, Death and the curse are known no more;
In him the tribes of Adam boast More blessings than their Father lost.”
Of course Paul is writing to Christians. He doesn’t bother to explain here that we each need to choose to accept that free gift of eternal life for ourselves, although of course we do. So here are the things we can learn by comparing Adam and Jesus. Adam disobeyed God and his disobedience brought condemnation and guilt and judgement on all human beings. In that way Adam also brought death for all his descendants, right down to all of us today. In contrast, Jesus obeyed God. His act of obedience on the cross brought forgiveness and justification and righteousness and new life. Adam gave us all physical life but Jesus gives spiritual life to everybody who is saved by him.
Adam brought us condemnation. Jesus bought us salvation, as we are born again through him. So here is the life-or-death question. In our natural state, all human beings are “dying in Adam”. Only those who put their trust in Jesus are “being made alive in Christ”. Every person on earth faces a simple choice. Are we choosing to remain dead with Adam? Or have we chosen to accept God’s free gift of eternal life thought Jesus? Are we dead in Adam? Or are we alive in Christ?