Brothers and Sisters,
When someone, or an organisation, asks someone else to represent them, it is no small thing.
And we run into people representing others in many spheres of life.
The Prime Minister, for instance, represents the people of Australia. When the people of a country go to the polls, in an election, they give the candidate of their choice the right to represent them.
When the Wallabies travel to New Zealand to play the All Blacks, and get beaten, they represent the people of Australia, whether they are beaten or not. Here, back ay home, we can’t just say the Wallabies are only our representatives when they win – when they loose, they are not representing us. No, when they loose, they are still representing us, and perhaps it is for that reason why it hurts on a personal level, even though it is not actually us ourselves who missed the tackles or kicked badly.
Which portrays another dimension of representation – the deed, or deeds, of the representative reflect back on the person or persons the representative, represents, and as such, the consequences of the deed are counted to those represented as much as it is on the representative himself. What the representative does, whether good or bad, reflects on those he represents, and if there are consequences, those represent suffer or gain as much from it as the representative him or herself.
So, when a prime minister, as representative commits his soldiers to a war, not only do the soldiers suffer, their families, too, feel the act of the representative, the prime minister, as if in their own bones.
One last remark about the practical implication of representation:
Representation works in two directions:
When the church chooses a representative to represent a congregation at Synod, that person represents all the people, ideally speaking, of that congregation. He represents a congregation that is filled with the spirit (otherwise why would they be members of that congregation) and as such he represents that congregation’s caring for each other, their love for one another and for the community, and on a practical level, he carries in him their wishes and commands of the congregation, entitling him to make decisions on their behalf. And the congregation, as community, is bound by any outcome his decisions bring about. – the emphasis here is on the representative. One representative represents the many members of his church.
On the other end, because the representative is commissioned to represent a congregation, his actions should display the qualities and ideals and commands of those he represents. The focus, seen in this light, is on the church being represented – because whatever the representative does, people will say “that’s a funny kind of church, or a bad church, or a good church, because in the one representative, they will read the community of the church he represents, the sum-total of all the members of the church will be measured by the actions of the single representative…
Brothers and sisters I have spent a bit of time explaining this, because it seems to me this is what Paul is getting at here in Romans 5 from verse 12 onwards.
What Paul is doing here in Romans 5, is pointing out that we as human beings, over the ages, have had basically two representatives - Adam, and Jesus, and that both have had a profound impact on the lives of every man women and child. And now he is about to compare them.
And so, in verse 12, Paul goes and finds man’s first representative – Adam.
God made man and placed him on the earth, to represent Him.
Is this true? Was Adam’ God’s representative? And while we are on the topic, did Adam even ever actually really exist? Isn’t he just a mystical figure to try and explain the un-explainable (as some say)?
Paul has no problem portraying Adam as a real person, an historical figure. In fact, this whole passage is built on the assumption that Adam was a real person, created by god in a time and place as the Genesis story portrays it. Why else would Paul compare Adam and Christ in this passage, with the one person being a mythical figure, the other a real person (Jesus).
And proof that this so is readily available:
We find it in the genealogies:
Genesis - From Adam to Noah
5 This is the written account of Adam’s line.
When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. 2 He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them “man.a”
3 When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth.
In Luke 3:38;
the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, 37 the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Kenan, 38 the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.
Jesus Himself in matthew 19:4 refers to Adam as an Historical figure:
4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female, and he is quoting Genesis 1:27:
So we can confidently say that Adam was an Historical figure.
And Genesis 1:27 takes us right back to Adam as representative of God.
Was Adam God’s first representative, and so our representative to God?
Please have a look at genesis 1: 26-28, and take note of the language…
Gen 1:26-28 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth,b and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
There can be little doubt, brothers and sisters, Adam a real person, was God’s way of initiating the age of man, an age that would be represented by it’s first son Adam; the beginning of an era when, looking backwards, all who would come after Adam would be represented by him, the first father of mankind.
And what is more, God makes man to represent Him specifically. That is what is meant when God says to man, “; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
But does mankind do God’s bidding?
Does Adam, God’s representative on earth; Adam, in who we are represented, does he act as the shining example of Him who sent him, God?
No! Adam does not want to be representative – Adam wants to be God himself. And never mind, by the way, that is was actually the woman who misled him, and the fact that the serpent was really the one who started it all by tempting the woman – God holds His representative responsible. He is a righteous God!
And if that is so, then surely we shouldn’t be too surprised to accept that all who came after him would be part and parcel in responsibility and accountability in every thing that Adam would do?
Some people say that we should not be held responsible for the deeds of one man.
But this goes against the simple truth of the way things work in life. We are responsible or accountable to the deeds of those in whose ancestry we share, certainly as far as going back to our original ancestor is concerned.
What does God say in Exodus 20:
I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
And all of that is what Paul is saying in verse 12 of Romans 5. It is the first part of a comparison…a comparison with another Adam, a second Adam, because clearly, the first Adam ahs left us in deep trouble.
The result of Adam’s rebellion against God, is death…thank God, the Bible did not stop after Genesis 3.
What happens in verses 13-17, is Paul’s way of explaining everything that we have just said. And as he typically does, he finds a character in the Old Testament to further drive home the point. This time it is Moses. Paul is anticipating those who say “but how can we be punished for something we did not do ourselves: Paul says…it is the result of sin that is carried over from Adam onwards. Do you want proof? Death is all the proof you need. Just look around you, people continue to die. And this was so even before Moses brought the Law down from the mountain.
(Later on, in verse 20, he will say, be careful to bring in the law, or ignorance of the law, as an excuse.
At least those who died for the sins they inherited from Adam before they had the law, had just those sin to die for, but you who have the law, you who know what I command you (and we know what this is - to love one another like we love our own selves and to love the lord your God with all your heart and soul and might) your sin is compounded.
Brothers and sisters, how did you go this past week to keep to God’s commands?
Are we to be found innocent because, according to our reasoning, it is unfair that we be punished for something our common ancestor, Adam, did?
No! For not only do we have his sin, we continue to sin ourselves.
It is clear, brother and sister, that we need a new beginning, a new Adam. We need a new representative!
And now, in verse 18, Paul introduces just such a person, Jesus, our Lord and Saviour!
And now it becomes clear that Adam and Christ, is presented here, writes Anders Nygren, as the respective heads of two drastically opposing ages: Adam is the head of the age of Death; Jesus is the head of the age …of Life.
The life that Jesus brings, will overcome the death that Adam’s sin brought about.
And now Paul’s comparison starts to make better sense: Just like there is death for many in this fallen world through the one sin of Adam; there is life for many, for all who believe in the one act of salvation of Jesus the Christ.
Now we can start to understand this, because, frankly, when one sees Paul first setting out to compare Adam and Jesus as our representatives, we think … but they are not alike at all.
Paul will explain:
Notice how in verse 18, Paul changes from statements of “not like” or “how much more” as in the preceding verses, but now he writes…”just as….so also…”
It is as if he is saying… but there is a comparison after all!
That comparison, he says, is that, although the outcome of the one deed of each of the men in the comparison is contrasted, as in verse 16, ” 16 Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.
verse 18 now draws our attention again on the result of the acts of Adam and Jesus, but it does so in a way that highlights the fact that it is the deed of the one man, in both cases, that resulted in the outcome for many – therein lies the comparison.
It was Adam’s deed that resulted in death…it is Jesus’ deed that resulted in our salvation!
And while we have all sinned, just like Adam, all deserving death, we have done nothing, can do nothing, that could be considered as pay-back for our sinfulness. That was achieved by Jesus alone who through His one act of mercy and Love has brought life to all who believe. Out of one man’s sin comes death to millions… the sins of millions of millions will be paid for by one man, all so that God may finally have a kingdom in the form that He intended it from the beginning – a kingdom of sinless people who obey God’s every command, who will be worthy representatives of Him. That is the type of representative we need…and so he sends us His son, Jesus.
Brothers and sisters, but let’s revisit our unpacking of the concept of representation: you will remember that we decided that representation works in two directions: the actions of the representative reflects on the image of those represented; just as those represented are seen in the person or deeds of the representative.
When Adam sins, his rebellion is visited on us, even to this day,
When Jesus comes, the new Adam, to give us a new beginning, a new testament, to take away that which makes us impure, unjustified, should not Jesus and his life be the life we take on in ourselves so that His representation of us remains true?
When he dies on the cross for you and me, taking our sins in His outstretched arms, should we not live lives that will display that our sins have been taken away from, so far away from us as the east is from the west?
And if we don’t, aren’t we simply continuing to crucify our, Lord again and again and again?
Just as we are quick to say, no to demand, that we can not be held responsible for the sins of Adam, just so are we quick to identify with Pontius Pilate: we wash our hands and declare ourselves innocent!
But as long as we continue to sin, we are not innocent. As long as we serve our many modern day gods; envy; lust; greed; worry; anger; jealousy; we continue to sin – we make light the death of Jesus on the cross. And it does not help to say that it was not us who crucified our Lord?
How does the song go…”were you there when they crucified my Lord?
The way we continue to live our lives, in many cases, leaves us with just one answer – we were there!
Horatius Bonar, a 19th century hymn writer, wrote these words:
T’was I that shed the sacred blood
I nailed Him to the tree
I crucified the Christ of God
I joined the mockery
Brothers and sisters, who is our representative: Does our lives show that it is Adam, or does our lives show that we are represented by Jesus?
Are we, as Christians, Jesus’ representatives here on earth until he will soon come again?
Or is Adam our champion – he who would be God in himself?
May our lives this week, and onwards, reflect the love of Jesus – He who came so that we may have a new representative – Him, the prince of Peace and love and Glory to God, for ever and ever,
a Hebrew adam
b Hebrew; Syriac all the wild animals