The first book of Moses, commonly called Genesis, does not reveal to us precisely how the created earth itself was made to bring forth every living creature “after its kind” (Gen 1:24); but there appears the thought of intimacy in the way in which the Creator himself, from that same earth, produced the collection of chemicals he named Adam, and with which he crowned his creation (2:7).
Behold, this man, Adam, made alive by the very breath of God, and spirit endowed, who freely chose to reach out into that surrounding paradise, prepared for him by a loving Creator, not for the Word of life that came to him on that same eternal breath, but for sin that has death as its fruit. Behold, this man, from whose body of sinful flesh an enslaved race issued, bequeathing a sinful nature and the grave for an inheritance.
It is in this very context that the mission of Jesus of Nazareth needs to be understood. Without the Christ, mankind has no hope and no future. The first man, Adam could make no provision for our redemption. In him, we have all sinned, due to the nature we have inherited from him, and, as a consequence, in him, according to the apostle Paul, we all must die. But, thank God, the story of man doesn’t end there. Paul goes onto say that just as in Adam all die: “…even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor 15:22).
In this same epistle, Paul uses two descriptive phrases to refer to Jesus, God’s perfect man. He calls him “the second man” (15:47) showing that the first man, Adam, gathered from the dust of the ground, was representative of the whole of humanity, sharing the one fallen nature; whereas the second man, Jesus, who came to earth from heaven (John 6:38), represents a new creation (2 Cor 5:17). He calls Jesus also “the last Adam” (1 Cor 15:45) showing that Jesus stands as the head of a new race, imparting life to the new man, and revealing that there will be no new departure from this state of perfection.
When the Roman governor, Pilate, brought out the man Jesus to display him before an angry mob and declared: “behold, the man”; little did he know that “the man” he was referring to was the new man, God’s perfect man, the last Adam; who was about to take away, in the body of his flesh, the sins of the whole world and to forever set men free from the tyranny of sin and from the chains of death.