Paul, in chapter 5 of his letter to the Romans, begins a study of contrasts between two pivotal figures: Adam and Jesus Christ. After clearly identifying the serious impact of the actions of the first man, Adam, in verse 12:

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—

(Romans 5:12 ESV)

Paul follows with an interesting description of Adam in the latter half of Romans 5:14:

Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.”

(Romans 5:14 ESV)

Paul explains that Adam, is a type of the one who was to come, that is, Jesus. What is a type? One way to define it is to say that a type is: an Old Testament institution, thing, or event, that prefigures or foreshadows the later work of Christ. Adam is one of many “types” of Jesus and His work in Scripture. It isn’t hard when we compare Adam to Jesus, to remember that while Adam is merely a shadow, Jesus is indeed the real thing.

One “type” that created much discussion and controversy in John 6 was “manna.” Notice how Jesus contrasts Himself with the manna:

I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.

(John 6:48–51 ESV)

Again – manna was a type of Christ…a shadow…of a far better bread from heaven! Jesus wants them to realize the fact that while their forefathers ate miraculous bread from heaven, they still all died. The metaphor compares “eating” with “believing.” If they will believe in Jesus, it is the same as ingesting a bread that will bring the believer eternal life. Jesus is the true and better manna…the Bread of Life.

As we look at the differences between shadowy Adam and Jesus Christ – their actions are contrasted sharply in their garden experiences. As Adam disobeyed God without much thought in relation to the forbidden fruit of the “tree of good and evil,”- think of the grief and suffering of the soul Jesus went through in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was so great He told His disciples:

My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.”

(Matthew 26:38 ESV)

Falling on His face, Jesus pleaded with His Father, wrestling, struggling to come to terms, not so much with His physical death – but with the spiritual separation He would experience as He faced His Father’s wrath against sin on the cross. Yet, despite casting Himself upon the mercy of His Father three times…despite agonizing so much His sweat was like blood – Jesus proves Himself to be the greater Adam, the true Son of God, who despite the overwhelming sorrow submits and says:

“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.””

(Luke 22:42 ESV)

As intense as Jesus’ suffering was in the garden of Gethsemane, a garden with an even greater test and more painful experience awaited Christ. John tells us something unique about Golgotha or Calvary:

“Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.”

(John 19:41 ESV)

In the first garden, Adam selfishly sought to be like God. But in the second garden, Jesus – the Son of God who was Divine:

…emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

(Philippians 2:7–8 ESV)

We must remember that Jesus not only dies for our sins, but He lived the life we could never live – and this perfect record of obedience is credited to all who trust in Jesus as the Substitute for, and Savior from the penalty of sin. Paul focuses in on the impact of Adam’s disobedience contrasted with Jesus’ obedience when he says:

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.”

(Romans 5:18–19 ESV)

 We will never fully understand the pain and suffering Jesus went through on our behalf, but His willingness to humbly go where no one would ever believe the Son of God – the God-man – would go – all the way to a Roman cross – solidifies one other principle regarding types: Whatever the type, Jesus is always the true and better version.

The contrast between Adam and Jesus is as stark as the contrast between Romans 5:12, which tells us how sin and death entered this world, and Revelation 5:12. May we join with the thousands of heavenly creatures who sing out with a loud voice:

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!

(Revelation 5:12 ESV)

 As darkness is to light, so the first Adam is to the Last Adam, Jesus Christ. The two cannot be compared – only contrasted. Jesus is the real thing!

Last modified: May 17, 2022