First Sunday in Lent (March 5, 2017)
- First reading
- Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7
- Psalm 32
- Second reading
- Romans 5:12-19
- Matthew 4:1-11
Romans 5:12-19 New Living Translation (NLT)
12 When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. 13 Yes, people sinned even before the law was given. But it was not counted as sin because there was not yet any law to break. 14 Still, everyone died—from the time of Adam to the time of Moses—even those who did not disobey an explicit commandment of God, as Adam did. Now Adam is a symbol, a representation of Christ, who was yet to come. 15 But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ. 16 And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin. For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins. 17 For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.
18 Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone. 19 Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous.
On Wednesday, we began our 40 day journey to the cross. We call this season Lent – which is the Latin word for Spring. Lent is a time when we examine ourselves – we prepare ourselves for Easter. It traditionally was the time when those joining the church would prepare themselves for baptism on Easter Sunday. It is a time when we remember the sufferings of Jesus We remember his sacrifice – we remember the price for our sins – and the blood that was shed for the forgiveness of sins.
Usually I don’t refer to the various texts, but focus (during this cycle) on the New Testament (Epistle) readings. This week, the readings lend themselves to some co-operation. The Old Testament text describes the sin of Adam. The Gospel text describes the testing of Jesus in the wilderness. The Epistle text compares the first and the second Adam.
Several years ago, we attended a seminar by Dr. Bill Ury. I don’t exactly remember what the whole seminar was about, but I remember us talking about the order of creation. He said that many people when they talk about creation and salvation, begin at chapter 3 of Genesis. Instead, he said, we need to begin in chapter 1 – Let us make man (human) or in the Hebrew – Ha’adam in our own image – meaning in the image of God or Imago Dei.
When you think about this – it makes much sense. We (humans) were created in God’s image, however, as we learn in chapter 3 of Genesis, we were unable to follow God. Adam sinned – as well as everyone who followed. In Genesis 3, we see that Adam and Eve were tempted and yielded to that temptation.
Let’s jump ahead to the Matthew text – where we learn that Jesus was tested and tempted. We know that satan tempted Jesus with at least 3 things. They were out in the wilderness for 40 days – perhaps with satan tempting Jesus with these three things the entire time. We learn that Jesus never succumbed to temptation. Jesus was tested in every way just like we Ha’adam were – and yet did not sin. This brings us to the Romans text.
Through Adam (or Ha’adam) sin entered the entirety of humanity – Paul contrasts Adam with Jesus. The sin of Adam brought death – his sin led to condemnation. However – through Jesus – God’s gracious gift – we have forgiveness of sins. Because of Adam everyone dies. Because of Jesus everyone (those who receive Jesus) can live eternally – everyone can be made righteous. Paul goes on to say that those who receive God’s gift will live in triumph over sin and death — because of Jesus.
One sin brought condemnation to many – One act of righteousness on Jesus’ behalf brings a right relationship with God – and new life.
I love the fact that Paul then goes on to say that the law shows how sinful we are – sin ruled over us – that is at least until God’s gracious gift of Christ – now God’s wonderful grace rules and gives us right standing with Christ. Because of that, we can have eternal life with God – if we receive his gift.