Yesterday I continued my sermon series in the book of Romans. My sermon text was Romans 5:12-21 and the title was "Christ the Second Adam." I'm sure that most people would not put this passage in their top ten list of biblical texts relating to Advent or Christmas. Nonetheless the text is wonderfully appropriate.
I introduced my sermon by asking the congregation a question: Why did Jesus have to come in the flesh? This is a basic question that often goes unanswered at Christmas. I was driving at the premise which is often overlooked -- that Jesus, the second Adam, had to come in the flesh to reverse what the first Adam messed up. According to this passage Adam's sin plunged humanity into guilt, condemnation and death. However, Christ's actions led to grace, justification and life.
I found this quote from Horatius Bonar in James Montgomery Boice's Commentaries on the book of Romans (p. 575, volume II, Baker Publishing) which says it better than I ever could:
"The first Adam dies, and we die in him; but the second Adam dies, and we live in him! The first Adam's grave proclaims only death; the second Adam's grace announces life -- "I am the resurrection and the life." We look into the grave of the one, and we see only darkness, corruption and death; we look into the grave of the other, and we find there only light, incorruption and life. We look into the grave of the one and find that he is still there, his dust still mingling with its fellow dust about it; we look into the grave of the other and find that he is not there. He is risen--risen as our forerunner into the heavenly paradise, the home of the risen and redeemed. We look into the grave of the first Adam and see in him the first-fruits of them that have died, the millions that have gone down to the prisonhouse whose gated he opened; we look into the tomb of the second Adam, and we see in him the first-fruits of that bright multitude, that glorifed band, who are to come forth from that cell, triumphing over death and rising to the immortal life; not through the tree which grew in the earthly paradise, but through him whom that tree prefigured -- through him who was dead and is alive, and who liveth evermore, and who has the keys of hell and death."