The Old Adam, the New Adam, and the Living God
My daughter recently reminded me of a great truth.
I was at home, working on my sermon. And as I was trying to concentrate my two older children were both practicing their piano. I confess it was irritating me. But that was my problem; I was clearly in the wrong place at the wrong time. I finished my preparation and was in a rush to get over to the church. My daughter, who had been playing a particular song on the piano for the past 10 minutes, hopped off the piano bench and said, “Daddy, daddy, I have to tell you something.”
“Ok, honey but I’m really in a hurry, what is it.”
“It’s a secret, I have to tell you outside.”
“Ok, come tell me.” So she walked me out to the car and then leaned over and said, “Do you know who that song was for that I was playing?”
“No, who was it for?”
“It was for the One who you serve and work for.”
My racing thoughts and anxious heart stood completely still. I almost cried right then and there.
All morning my mind was filled with images of the cross, and thoughts of the death of Christ. And in that moment — out of the mouths of babes — I was reminded by my 5-year-old daughter that the God whom we love and worship and serve, is a Living God!
On Good Friday, and at every Eucharist, we remember his death. But the heart of our hope as Christians, is that Christ is alive. That he has risen from the dead! This is why we gather together today. And why we gather together every Sunday.
Jesus is not merely a man who lived 2000 years ago. He is the incarnate Son of God, who took on our flesh, suffered death on the cross, and rose victorious from the grave.
We testify to this truth of the living Christ in every liturgical prayer we pray, when we conclude, “through him who live and reigns.”
He is alive! He lives and reigns today! It is the risen Christ who is present with us in the bread and in the wine.
(One of our ancient post-communion prayers says, “Accomplished and concluded O Christ our God so far as in us lies, is the mystery which thou has ordained. For we have had the memorial of thy death, we have seen the figure of thy resurrection.)
Jesus resurrection is the hinge upon which our entire faith hangs. His resurrection confirms his identity as the Son of God – it is the assurance that his teaching and his promises are true.
His bodily resurrection is the assurance that all of humanity will be raised from the dead.
The risen Christ is often referred to as the New Adam.
The Old Adam blew it. And through him, so did all of us. We did not fulfill our calling to live in perfect, loving union with our Creator God.
Our predicament, as sons and daughters of the Old Adam – as fallen human beings — is one of being literally enslaved to sinful passions and their fruit – which is ultimately death.
But Christ – the New Adam — has fulfilled humanity’s calling to live in perfect union with God.
As St. Paul writes, “Sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned . . . If, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
The New Adam came to save and redeem the old.
Through his resurrection Our Lord broke the bonds of sin and death once and for all. In Christ, death no longer has dominion over us.
As the Orthodox hymns says, “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and on those in the grave bestowing life!”
So what is the application for us today? What is the application of this incredible gift of salvation which Our Lord won for us 2000 years ago? What does it mean for us? What do we do with this revelation? How do we respond to this gift.
Consider the famous icon of the Risen Christ. I want to draw your attention to one very small detail.
There is Christ, risen from the grave. Death is bound at the bottom of the frame. Hell is left in chaos and disarray from Our Lord’s victorious resurrection. His cross continues to pierce the depths of the power of hell.
Do you see the man and woman at the bottom left and the bottom right?
Those figures are Adam and Eve.
And do you see Christ’s right hand, and Adam’s left hand? The New Adam is pulling the Old Adam out of the grave, along with Eve.
And the detail I want you to notice is the two hands – of Christ and Adam.
Jesus is not pulling Adam by the hand. He is pulling him by the wrist.
What do you suppose this means?
The Old Adam is being freed from captivity to sin and death. But not by his own strength. He still has no power in himself, to help himself! He is not grasping Our Lord’s hand to help himself out of the grave. Christ is pulling him out. It is only by the power of the risen and victorious Christ that the Old Adam is restored to new life!
So it is with us! It is only by the power of the risen and victorious Christ that we are saved from the power of sin and death, and restored to new and unending life!
So think about that simple image of the two hands, meditate on it, give thanks to God for it, remember it when you are alone, or afraid, or sad, or sick, or hurting.
Let us rejoice this day for Our Lord’s victory, and let us raise our hands, with the Old Adam, in prayer and praise and petition, as Our Risen and eternally present and loving Lord pulls us up from the grave — from the grip of sin and death — into his eternal kingdom.