“Christ, the true and greater Adam.”
Now that Christmas has passed we look ahead to the New Year. The New Year, as a celebration has always been so odd to me. I have yet to see why we, as a people, make such a big deal over it. I was reading Charles Spurgeon recently and he expressed well what I mean;
“There is no real difference between New Years and any other day, yet in our mind and thought it is a marked period, which we regard as one of the milestones set up on the highway of our life.”
New Year’s is celebrated internationally, by people all around the world. It’s a celebration not connected to any specific faith, sub-cultural tradition, or specific people group. Although ‘New years’ may be celebrated on different days in different cultures. It is a shared human experience. One of the reasons a New Year is such significant event, a milestone for us, is because we as humans (corporately) share in this moment together.
It’s almost as if we celebrate the coming of a new year in the same way we would our own birthday. In that sense, the New Year represents another ‘birthday’ in the life of humanity. – It’s a marker in our history as a people.
The coming of each New Year comes not only with a sense of anticipation, but also of reflection on the events that will be added to our history as a people. As you read the paper, listen to the radio, watch tv, and browse the internet over the next few days you will undoubtedly see and hear “year end reviews”, “the top stories of this past year”, and other reflections on the past years events. These reports always have a mixture of the good and the bad. As we reflect on the past year, and what has happened in the human family there are stories that give us a sense of honor, and there are the stories that give us a sense of shame.
- We are reminded of evil actions that cause us to mourn when human life has been abused or taken maliciously.
- We have stories that give us a sense of honor when we are reminded of the heroic efforts of our fellow man to bring about good to this neighbor.
- We reflect on stories that make us cringe at the thought that another person, just like you and I, could do such horrible things- have such evil motives.
- We also have joyful stories that serve as positive examples of human ingenuity to overcome obstacles and do what was thought to be impossible.
- We have also seen many those we uphold in our culture as heroes fail morally over this past year.
This if anything, causes us to ask one simple yet profound question about us, as human beings. How is it that mankind can in one moment exhibit such qualities of goodness towards others, and in another perform completely unjust acts of cruelty? We are faced with the awful reality that human history is marked by both good and evil, I believe this exposes the great “human paradox.” The human race, as a whole, is very inconsistent – This tells us that something is not right. Things don’t seem to be as they should. The reality of such inconsistency at the very least reveals a great underlying problem.
Now, as Christians we understand that this underlying problem, this inconsistency with the whole of the human race finds its origins in the fall of man in Genesis.
The Christian Explanation of Such Origins
We understand from the beginning that Adam, the first son of God, was the first man created by God’s caring hand. Logically, from Adam and Eve, all of the human race would descend – so, in a larger sense we are all brothers and sisters in the human family. Therefore our history is a shared history- it’s our story. Adam was the first head of the human race, the first son, this was a pivotal role. Adam, the son of God, was tested in his obedience too his Father and Creator in the garden, and he turned his back on God, and sinned. What we cannot miss is that Adam represented all of those who would come from him. He held the destiny of all his descendants in his hands. So, when Adam sinned, he ushered in sin, which cut all of humanity off from our relationship to God which brought condemnation to all. Sin also brought devastating effects on our relationships to one another, and had catastrophic effects on all of creation.
From this, we understand why the world is as it is. But we cannot forget that God, in his sovereign plan for human history, had greater plans for the redemption of mankind. There would be a new man, who would be one of us, “a greater son than Adam”, but who would also be one with God. While human history is marked with sin, inconstancy, and destruction – there is one man who can redeem us, and creation, from all that has gone wrong. This is where we pick up in Luke. Over the past few weeks during the Christmas season, many have studied the Birth of Christ, the beauty of this story is that it is only the beginning of the significance of Christ.
The Genealogy of Jesus (Luke 3:23-38)
One of the things that’s often overlooked when reading through a Gospel is that there is a close connection between the audience and how the author structures the account. Remember that “the Bible bears all the marks of its authors. Their language, thought forms, literary styles and forms, and their culture shape the actual way the messages were given.” In other words, when reading these accounts we must acknowledge that there is meaning in how these accounts are presented.
In our day, genealogies do not play such a pivotal role in our understanding ‘who we are’ as individuals. But, ancient societies were organized around family; therefore it was important for every one to know their ancestral lineage, their pedigree. For ancient people ones heritage was very important to their identity. Lineage was important for several reasons;
- Such “family trees” determined a person’s role social relationships. In other words, a genealogy shows who a particular person identifies with. This serves a crucial function in determining membership to a specific kinship group.
- Also, Kings and rulers used genealogies to justify their power, rank, and status. Another way of saying this is that one’s lineage was proof of one’s inheritance. Lineage indicates the rights of an inherited status.
You will notice that if you turn to Matthew, he places the genealogy at the beginning of his gospel account. Yet Luke places it right here in the middle of the gospel narrative – which seems a bit odd. What’s going on here? Well, notice where Luke places Jesus’ genealogy, it is ‘right in the middle of two very significant events in Jesus life’. He does this for a specific purpose. (Click Here for a brief treatment on the differences in Matthew and Luke’s genealogy.)
What comes before the genealogy? – Jesus baptism. In the account of Jesus baptism (3:21-22), “a voice from heaven”, being God, says “you are my beloved Son.” – The point, “Jesus stands alone as the designated son of God.” After pointed out this divine affirmation, that Jesus is the Son of God; Luke interrupts the progression of the story. In 3:38, Luke breaks into the narrative with Jesus’ genealogy.
I want you to take notice of something very important in this genealogy. Notice who the Luke traces Jesus lineage back to, he goes back to the beginning with Adam. In 3:38 Jesus is shown to come from “the son of Adam, the son of God.” Now, one of the overarching themes in Luke’s gospel account is to demonstrate that the gospel message is “for all people.” What is Luke saying here in the genealogy?
Luke was showing us that while Jesus stands alone as the designated Son of God (baptism), ‘Jesus also stands with us, the entire human race, as being truly human family.’ Now, why does this matter? Well, we know from the account of the fall that Adam and Eve were tempted. Behind these efforts stood the devil, enticing Adam and Eve to turn from God. This is the same devil “who now steps out from behind the curtain for a direct confrontation” with Jesus. Moving from the genealogy to the temptation is intentional. Jesus stands not only as human with us, but for us. Where Adam was counted as the head of humanity, Christ now stands as the head of a ‘new humanity.’
Luke’s primary focus is on Jesus as the “Son” who will be obedient in a way that all others, starting with Adam- have not been. With that knowledge there is a sense of victory as we move into the temptation accounts and watch this cosmic drama unfold. As our commander and chief straps on a helmet, comes down from the high office and jumps in the trenches of war.
The Temptation of Christ – Luke 4:1-13
a. The Temptation to Doubt God’s Provision (4:3-4)
And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. (The verb tense ‘being tempted’ indicates that Jesus was tempted during the whole forty day fast. What we see here is the culmination of the whole drama!) And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. (Notice here, the forty day fast is up. So its not that the devil is attempting to make Jesus break his fast, he is going after him at his ‘weakest’ human physical point.) The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone”
The ingredients of the setting are important. Jesus’ fasting has most likely resulted in near starvation, so his immediate need is obvious, food. Notice the Devils words; “if you are the Son of God” provide food for yourself. The devil is not denying that Jesus is the son of God, but is exploiting this status by urging Jesus to use his power in a way that is against the will of the Father. But remember, it was God’s Spirit that led Jesus into the wilderness, and it is God who will sustain him. Satan’s proposal was simple, “Jesus, provide food for yourself by miraculously turning this stone into bread.” In order for Jesus to have done this, he would have to turn from God’s provision and protection. Jesus reply is simple, human livelihood consists of more than the mere meeting of daily needs.
Jesus quotation of Deuteronomy is very instructive here. This passage was a call to Israel to have faith that God will remain faithful to his promises. In Exodus 4:23 Israel is also called “God’s Son.” (The designation given to Adam, and Christ) After Pharaoh had let the Israelites go, God led them in the wilderness for 40 years. “In this context God reminds the Israelites that, through feeding them supernaturally on manna, [He was showing them His] ability to supply nourishment” in His own ways. The parallels are here are striking as we reflect back to Adam the first son. Adam, the first son, “like Christ, was our representative; what he did affected all of us.” So, Adam’s failure in the test of the garden points us towards the hope of Christ’s temptation in the wilderness. Let me explain the contrast;
- In the garden we have Adam who had not fasted at all and had plenty at his disposal, while Jesus had suffered a lack for forty days.
- Adam could eat from any tree in the garden but one, Jesus was denying himself all food – and had none in this wilderness setting.
- Adam was in paradise with an abundance of food and resources, Jesus in the barren wilderness.
If environment was the determining factor in overcoming temptation, Jesus was seemingly at a great disadvantage from our perspective. But Jesus is the true and greater son, and this temptation was endured because he fully trusted in God’s provision and care. What God’s son Adam had failed to do, what God’s son Israel had failed to do, Christ accomplished.
Jesus is the true and greater son of God, the ‘new man.’ Through his obedience where Adam failed, Jesus conquered.
b. The Temptation to Rule Apart from God’s Plan (4:5-8)
The second temptation begins with a glimpse of all the kingdoms of the world. Jesus is given a perspective from above- which allows him to see a great expanse of territory. In this territory Jesus was able to view all the inhabited earth, and all earthly power was presented to Jesus.
And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written,
“You shall worship the Lord your God,
and him only shall you serve.”
Remember that Jesus is fasting, this is a time when he has nothing to his disposal, and Satan shows up and offers him everything. Satan’s words are emphatic; “Look, Jesus, at what can be yours! All earthly kingdoms under my authority can be yours!’ – just bow down and worship me! – It’s that simple!” In this temptation, Satan was calling Christ to seize all power apart from God’s plan. But, Jesus knew that there was only one source that could make this offer, and it was not Satan. See, whatever the devil exercises is that which is allowed him by God; he can only delegate to Jesus what has already been delegated to him. This attempt was in many ways, an exaggerated offer, an oversell.
Jesus responds by quoting Deuteronomy, these words refer back to Israel’s failure in the wilderness when they began worshiping idols. Where ‘God’s son’ Israel failed, the greater Son Jesus will succeed. The parallel to the temptation in the garden is also striking. “Adam had been given dominion over the world by God…Yet Satan suggested that greater dominion was possible.” They could become like God! Now, if Adam and Eve had not been blinded by their own desires, they would have questioned the authority of the serpent to make such promises. But by obeying the evil one our parents aligned themselves with Satan, and against God. But Jesus’ desires were one in the same with His Father’s. And Jesus replies that God alone is worthy of allegiance. While Satan’s temptation was an attempt to break the Son’s relationship to the Father, Christ shows us that they are perfectly aligned. It’s beautiful to consider the cost here.
- Satan offered Jesus the kingdoms of the world by simply bowing down to him, so simple.
- But Jesus knew that the only way to gain the power and authority of all kingdoms was to endure the lashes of death, to endure the torture of the cross.
- Jesus knew that he would be exalted in the highest once he consumed the wrath of God for all of us who are now in God’s family. Thank God that Jesus remained faithful, where Adam failed.
Jesus is the true and greater son of God, the ‘new man.’ Through his obedience where Adam failed, Jesus conquered.
c. The Temptation to Test God’s Protection (4:9-12)
This third temptation involves another vision-like experience. Satan takes Jesus to the temples pinnacle in Jerusalem, which is a place that, if he were to jump over the edge, it would take miraculous protection for him to emerge from the fall alive.
And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written,
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
to guard you,’
“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.
Notice the devils request, again, “if you, Jesus, are truly the Son, cast yourself down.” The devil is attempting to convince Jesus to make a “flashy display of his power to prove that he is truly the Son of God.” In this attempt Satan is quoting 91, and asking Jesus to fulfill it right there, on the spot. What’s interesting is that Psalm 91 is addressed to those “who live in the shelter of the most high.” The temple is a significant place for this test. For the Semitic Jews, the temple was a location that embodied God’s shelter. It is a place of refuge and protection.
Simply put, Satan is asking Jesus to step out from under God’s shelter and jump to see if God will actually protect him. This would be a move to confirm his position as God’s son. Citing Deuteronomy Jesus refuses to jump. This passage in Deuteronomy was a reminder to Gods son Israel, as it entered into the promise land. In Exodus we read that Israel complained that they never should have left Egypt to wander in the wilderness for 40 years- in the wilderness they began to doubt God. While in doubt the Israelites began asking God to “prove himself,’ to show that he could be relied upon.
Satan was proposing that Jesus say to God, “In order to prove that I am your beloved Son I will place you in a situation where you must prove it.” Jesus refused; God had already proclaimed that Jesus was his son in his baptism, and Jesus was fully confident in that promise. Rest on that promise he did, it was what empowered Him to endure the torture of the cross. Once again, notice the contrast to that of Adam in the garden. In the temptation account Satan calls Adam and Eve to doubt God’s word. Satan tells them that if they eat of the fruit, they will “surely not die.” In a way, Adam and Eve tested God’s faithfulness by eating of the tree. “Satan wanted Christ to challenge God’s faithfulness in a much less direct way…[Think about it] There would be no other reason to leap from the temple roof except to determine once and for all, whether God would keep his promise.”
“To Adam and Eve, Satan said eat, you will surly not die- for God has lied to you. To Christ he said, jump, you will surely not die- unless God has lied to you.”
Yet again, where Adam failed Christ conquered.
Jesus is the true and greater son of God, the ‘new man.’ Through his obedience where Adam failed, Jesus has overcome. Furthermore, He is the only one who is able to bring us back into fellowship with God, and sustain us as ‘men made new.’
These are glorious truths about Christ, but some of you are probably asking – how does this affect me? What I am I to do with such truths? Well, you and I are part of the human family- born into Adam’s lineage. While the events in our lives may never make the national stage as events that marked this past year, our faults and battles are very real. When we examine our lives – our failure, our faults, the inappropriate way we have responded in certain situations;
We know deep down inside that something is not right, that we are not right. Things don’t seem to be as they should, and we often fail to respond as we should. – See being born in the line of Adam we are “spring-loaded for evil.”
- Let me assure you that there will be times in the coming year when you doubt God’s provision.
- There will be hard situations when you seek to assert your own control over circumstances, and fail to trust in God, and his plans.
- There will be times when you are also tempted to doubt that God actually cares about you, and you find it hard to hold on to hope.
But your failure, our failure, is not the end of the story. See, Christ not only conquered where Adam failed. He conquered where all of Adams descendants have failed and will fail. When you place your faith in Christ you are adopted in to his family, you are adopted into the family of God.
- As a Christian your family tree becomes a cross, where your sin and shame were paid in full.
- As a Christian, you can have the hope that your family grave is empty. That’s a promise from your Father.
- As a Christian you know that one day things will be as they should. Christ brings us back into fellowship with our Father, where Adam locked us out. – A place free of sin, death, disease, disaster, failure, and ten thousand other things that make this life the hard battle it is.
So I call you to wage war against the doubt of God. Fight to trust in the promises of God. And know that Jesus, cares for you deeply, as Hebrews 2:18 tells us;
“Because He himself has suffered when tempted, and is able to help those when they are tempted.”
And even when you fail, know that Christ has succeeded, and will stand as your representative before the Father. Let me remind you of two promises concerning this matter from Scripture;
“Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.”
1 Corinthians 15
“For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”
Oh church, Believe and continue to believe that Christ is the ‘New Man’, and in Him, ‘Men are Made New.’
Father, we thank you for your perfect Son, who conquered sin and death knowing that He held the destiny of all your children in his hands.
- Father, there may be some in this room who are still under the curse of Adam. I pray that you would move in their hearts right now and adopt them into your family.
- Father, there are also many of your children in here right now who have had a horrible year, and worry about what this next year brings. I pray that you would lovingly comfort them right now with your Spirit to know that despite the reality of our sufferings, you love and care for us.
- Father, there are also many of your children here that are surrounded in comfort and have lost the blazing heart of worship that you alone deserve. I pray that you would begin to show them where they have placed their hope and trust, how those things will fail, and how you alone are worthy of our allegiance.
We know that the book of Luke was written long ago to sustain our brother in Christ Theophilus, that he “may have certainty concerning the things he had been taught.” I pray that you would grant us with that same certainty here today, as we rest in the promise of salvation through Jesus Christ, the new man. And let us live now, ‘as men made new.’
- Isaiah 40:8
- Charles Spurgeon, A Sermon for New Year’s Day, 1885.
- Will Metzger, Tell the Truth.
- Edmund Clowney, The Unfolding Mystery.
- Graeme Goldsworthy, According to Plan.
- Darrell Bock, Luke.
- John Piper used this analogy in his sermon “Christ in Combat: Defense by the Spirit” on Luke 4:1-14.
- Timothy Keller points this out in his sermon “The First Temptation of Christ” on Luke 2:34-35; 4:1-13.
- Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology.
- Anthony Hoekema, Created in God’s Image.
- Edmund Clowney, The Unfolding Mystery.
- Thomas Schreiner, New Testament Theology.
I also benefited greatly from the following commentaries on Luke’s gospel;
Note: This is the edited manuscript of a sermon I preached at Calvary Baptist Church on December 27th.