Forever Triumphant, Day 4—Lenten Devotional
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—for until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed where there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, ever over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gifts which came from many offenses resulted in justification. For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. Romans 5: 12-17
My grandfather calls Adam “The Federal Head of the (Human) Race.” There has been recently some discussion in the conversation between theology and science with regard to whether an actual, historical Adam is possible, given the way that genetics and biology describe the origin of our species. Still, whether the existence of Adam is historical or figurative (a debate which I am not equipped or inclined to settle), at some point ours ceased to be just one more species and became a “race”, self aware and differentiated as human beings from the rest of Creation. From that moment, death reigned, not merely as the loss of biological life, but as the spiritual experience of the loss of innocence which resulted in the loss of hope, of relationships, and of meaning. The human transformation of biological self-preservation into sinful self-centeredness brought about the need for a new “Federal Head of the Race” who would offer victory over sin and death.
FJ Huegel: Here Paul traces the fact of sin and defeat and death as the result, in the final analysis, of Adam’s transgression. By one man’s offence death reigned. We belong to a fallen race, and as such—sinners stemming from Adam—we all die (all share in utter defeat!). By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. The argument is that if we have been baptized into Christ’s body by the eternal Spirit, our life no longer stems from Adam but from Christ, the Second Federal Head of the Race, in whom we reign.
Prayer: Dear God, I have experienced the defeat common to humans, a defeat brought about by my own incapacity to love, to act, or to think except in service to my own human nature. You have promised that in Jesus, I can be lifted out of the death and defeat that has me trapped and can reign with him. I want this so badly, that I am willing to believe it is true. In Jesus’s name. Amen.