The Status Change We All Need

The Status Change We All Need by JENNY MANLEY for The Gospel Coalition

As a mother of five young children, it’s not unusual for complete strangers to ask about my family. The question I hear most often at the grocery store or the playground is, “Are they all yours?” The most awkward I hear is, “Do you not believe in birth control?” But the most surprising came one spring afternoon when my children and some of their entrepreneurial friends set up a lemonade stand in front of our house. Someone stopped their car to ask me the name of our school. I took that as a compliment. They could’ve asked, “What is the name of your circus?”

One of the sweetest questions I often hear is, “Who does he/she look like?” It’s an obvious question when we see a child. We look to see whom they resemble. Children inherit physical features from their parents, but parents also pass on things like habits and genetic medical history. We look to the older generation to see things we want to imitate or avoid as we get older. This is natural. Watching our parents gives us a foreshadowing of what life may be like down the road.

God also raised up men in history whose lives help us better understand Jesus: human figures given to foreshadow his life and help us to understand his work more clearly.

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First Man

Innocence and life, though present everywhere in Genesis 1–2, were suddenly replaced by guilt and death in Genesis 3 as Adam and Eve moved beyond the good boundaries he’d been given. Not realizing they already resembled God because they’d been created in his image (and were still sinless), they jumped at the serpent’s temptation. Instead of ruling over the serpent, the serpent ruled over them. This wasn’t simply a blunder or a misstep; it was an act of cosmic treason, as God’s creatures sought to seize God’s authority instead of living under it. And in doing so, they fundamentally undermined what it means to be human.

Adam as the first man on earth served as the representative of the whole human race. In choosing disobedience and rebellion, he broke the perfect communion that existed between God and man; and, as a representative figure, he did so on behalf of all mankind.

Second Man

Because the first man failed at his task to truly be human, the Bible speaks of the need for a “Last Adam” or “Second Man” (1 Cor. 15:45–57). Jesus is that Second Man, that Last Adam. Their similarities are many: they both had miraculous beginnings, being specially created by God himself. Both were created innocent, perfect, and without original sin, the only two humans ever born outside the bondage to sin. Both served as representatives of humanity. Both rulers were given dominion over creation. And, in both, a deep sleep produced a beautiful bride. Both Adam and Jesus were tested, but one disobeyed, while the other obeyed. Adam’s disobedience brought death and curse on all of humanity. Jesus’s obedience brought life and righteousness for all who believe. One obeyed the serpent; the other crushed his head.

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