• Introduction:  Long ago, one day at Longfellow Elementary School in West Allis, WI, a music teacher, Miss Grames, suddenly stopped playing a song a 4th grade class was singing.  She then made everyone put the music away and the class sat quietly until the bell rang.  There was one kid horsing around when the refrain of the song was being sung.  He was over-emphasizing one syllable of one of those nonsensical words children’s songs sometime had.  The entire class suffered because one kid decided to misbehave.
    • A similar situation has occurred, but on a much larger scale.  Everyone of the human race who was conceived from, and since, our first parents, Adam & Eve, are suffering because of their original rebellion. Just one little bite of the forbidden fruit caused the entire class of the human race to be penalized.  The penalty was to be forever banished from the presence of a holy God who will have nothing profane near Him.
    • However, that isn’t what the Lord God had in mind for His most prized creation; His people. If only someone from the human race, just one person, would follow everything God the Father asked of all people, God the Father would then allow people back into His presence.  This concept is the scope of our message for today.
  • Let Us Pray: Lord, we come before you as members of the class that screwed up.  We need You to send Your Spirit to get us to understand just how bad it is for anyone banished from Your presence forever – because of sin.  We also need Your Spirit to testify to us your sweet Gospel that is available no other place in the world, for there is salvation in none other than Jesus Christ.  We pray this through Your Son Jesus, who reigns with the You, Heavenly Father, and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.
  • Second Illustration:  If you have been following the news, the corona virus is sweeping throughout the world.  This is no longer a problem isolated to China.  It was just reported on yesterday the first US citizen to die after contracting the virus.  There is another case where a Californian contracted the virus without having any direct contact with people who had the virus.  This virus is really insidious to say the least.
    • There have been a couple cruise ships quarantined because someone on the cruise, maybe one person out of the 4-5,000 people on board, caught the virus.  Can you imagine sitting docked at a port in New Jersey or in Japan for 2wks while you wait for everyone to incubate the virus (or not)?  This is not a pleasure cruise at this point.  The ship is in port.  No one could get off the ship.  No one could leave their stateroom.  There are a lot of rooms on cruise ships which do not have a window. It is like a prison for them.
    • Everyone is essentially locked in their room, and they did absolutely nothing to get into that situation. There are prison rooms with more contact with the real world, than the thousands of people cooped up on a quarantined ship. This quarantine happened because someone caught the corona virus.
    • Our souls are not far off from this scenario.  We are cooped up in this sinful Age without true freedom.  Jesus said in John 8:34 - 34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.
      • Imagine how less congested freeways and streets where people have to merge would be if we all planned ahead and left space for our neighbor to get in?  I see this every day just south of the I-19 interchange with I-10 up in Tucson. We all slow down well below posted speeds because people can’t bother to let their neighbor merge in front of them. We are cooped up in slavery because of one or a few who cannot be second to anyone.
    • I’m sure none of us here today has a picture or even a portrait of our first parents.  There is nothing in our family tree that include Adam’s favorite dish Eve would cook for him regularly.  We know nothing about our first parents except what was told to Moses by God when Moses wrote the book of Genesis.  And yet, because they decided they wanted to be like God, knowing good & evil, they disobeyed one of the two simple commands God gave to both of them - 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Gen 2:16-17 ESV)
  • Dilemma: We know how this turned out, and everyone since Adam & Eve has suffered with the consequences of sin.  The Apostle Paul wrote in Rom 5:12 which was the start of our Epistle reading for today - 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—.  We all now die because of these two parents everyone started out with.  These are parents as I mentioned we hardly know anything about.  But, we suffer the consequences.  7.7Billion people are living and breathing at this very moment, all suffering the consequences of sin and decay.
    • Paul wrote a little later in the same letter to the Romans - 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. (Rom 8:20-22 ESV)
      • It is bad enough mankind has to suffer because of two people, but now we see that all of creation is groaning under the slavery of sin!  What are we going to do about this?  I am convinced if all 7.7Billion people on this planet right now decided to light a match, the resulting emissions would not be a blip on a radar screen. We have been taught the past 30yrs or so that man has a huge impact on global climate. Sorry to burst the bubble, but we are not that significant, and certainly not that powerful.
      • We probably could help out metropolitan Los Angeles to improve air quality if we just knocked down the mountains to the east of LA.  The air would then be allowed to travel, and pollutants could disperse to become harmless instead of being cooped up in the LA basin.  How much effort would it take to get rid of mountains?  Would that do anything for people in New York suffering with air pollution?
  • Interpretation: We need someone on the proportion of God in order to just relieve the pressures of sin on creation.  Forget about man, just trying to save creation is out of reach!  But we can’t forget about man, and redeeming him from the stateroom prison he lives in.  I hope everyone agrees mankind is a little more important than the rest of creation which is here today and gone on tomorrow.
    • How do you save 7.7Billion people from the slavery to sin?  Paul is on to something in v17 of our Epistle for today - 17 For 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.
      • That was kind of hard to follow so let’s look into portions of v17 at a time.  The first portion is - because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man.  I think we have the concept now that we are going to die because Adam & Eve made a bad choice.  That bad choice missed the mark of keeping God’s simple commands.  Sin has consequences and those consequences are deadly.
      • Here’s the last part of v17 - 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.  Because Jesus is both God and man, He shared in our suffering while He lived in mortal flesh for 33yrs.  He was that one perfect person God the Father was looking for in order to lift the curse of death from potentially everyone who ever lived, is living, and has yet to be conceived.  It took someone of God proportion to be able to always, 100% of the time, keep *every* commandment.
        • We’ve talked about this before, but it’s worth repeating.  Can you imagine living your entire life never sinning? Some may think they don’t sin and in fact some religions teach that as you go through life you become perfect to the point of no longer sinning.  As a practical matter, I have never seen this.  I have seen sinful behavior at work, at the seminary, and (gasp!) even here at Christus Rex!  I have seen sin when I look in the mirror.  I suspect each of us has a similar experience.
      • Jesus lived the perfect life that Adam & Eve couldn’t keep while living in the garden God created with His own hands!  Jesus lived the perfect life none of our ancestors could keep, anymore than we can keep to this day.  It took this one perfect person to be the savior of mankind.  It took this savior, the only Son of God to one day make everything new.  Everything you see in creation on today, will end someday.  Only the word of God endures forever.  His word is He wants you to live with Him for eternity in a special place he has prepared for you very similarly to what he created for our first parents.
    • It wasn’t enough to lead a perfect life in this sinful Age.  Jesus then had to die an innocent suffering leading to death on a cross.  God the Father put all of my sins, your sins, and the sins of everyone onto His own flesh & blood in Jesus.  This was not something easy for the Father to do to His beloved Son in who He was well pleased.  And because the Father will have no sin in His presence, He had to turn His back on His beloved Son, because now Jesus had all of the sins of the world on His shoulders. Think of the filthiest sinner you know, the foulest of foul people.  That pales in comparison to what Jesus became in your place and mine so that we do not have to suffer death apart from God throughout eternity.  Jesus cried out from the cross with what little breath He could muster - 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mat 27:46 ESV) The Father’s beloved Son suddenly was the scourge of the earth.  The Father turned His back on His Son.  That rejection hurt both the Father and the Son more than we can imagine.  This was indeed a BIG sacrifice in order to save us sinful beings from what we have done.
  • Grace: This grace in the form of punishing someone else for what you did is how we now have a hope, a faith, in Christ Jesus to raise us from the dead just as He was raised up from the dead.  The curse against mankind starting with Adam is now lifted for those who believe and are baptized.  Which brings us to the punchline for today as found in v19 - 19 For as by the one man's disobedience (Adam) the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience (Jesus) the many will be made righteous.
  • Conclusion:   It is something the Apostle Paul also wrote, but in 1Co 15:21-22 - 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
    • To put it another way, we are classmates of Adam.  God the Father is the teacher in the classroom.  We all suffered because Adam did something that caused the Father to banish us all from the classroom forever.  However, before we all went out the door of eternity never to return to the classroom, Jesus put His hand up.  The Father called on Him.  Jesus said, I’ll take the punishment on behalf of the rest of the class.  The Father put the pressure on Jesus when He said, “You realize You will have to go out that door that no one has been able to return through?”  Jesus replied, “Yes, I know, but there is no other way for these classmates of mine to be kept in Your class.”
    • The Father accepted Jesus’ request to take our place in banishment.  The really good news is that Jesus went to the place of banishment, and then, because He is God as well as man, came back so that we can one day go out the door with no fear.  No fear, because Jesus will always be with us; never to leave us nor forsake us as long as we live in this Age – and the next.
    • It is my hope you keep this substitution in mind throughout this Lenten season. Look into your heart and see if there some sin you can unload in true reverence for what the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit has done for you to make you His own.  Yes, even the Holy Spirit is in on this substitution, because my brothers & sisters, this whole story is too good for simple mortal people like us to even comprehend.  We need the Spirit in order for us to believe and trust in this message. Class dismissed! Amen.