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Devotion for February 09, 2006


Not so long ago, when you took film to the drugstore to be developed it would come back with the negatives. Along with your pictures you would receive small strips with the images imprinted in reverse color. With the popularity of digital cameras, the photographic negative is now often only a special effect in software.

The photographic negative provides a helpful analogy to understand Paul’s comparison of Christ to Adam in today’s passage. In some ways, these two might seem to have little in common. Adam was created, while Jesus Christ was the Creator. Adam was merely man; Jesus Christ was God in the flesh. Adam sinned, but Jesus Christ did not. Adam was a source of condemnation. Jesus Christ was the agent who accomplished our justification.

But both Adam and Christ had the role of representatives. Just as Adam stood in our place when he sinned, Jesus Christ lived a perfectly righteous life on our behalf and took our place on the cross. Today’s passage notes that sin entered the world through Adam, and as a result death came to all (v. 12). The universal experience of death provides objective proof that all men and women are guilty in God’s sight, even those who had not received the written law. Christ’s position as “the last Adam” means that righteousness and eternal life are freely available to all who put their faith in Him.

One important distinction between the gift of Christ and the trespass of Adam was that Christ’s grace goes beyond Adam’s sin. The righteousness of Christ does more than make up for Adam’s trespass. It exceeds it. As our representative, Jesus Christ was everything that Adam was not. His sacrifice more than made up for Adam’s sin. As Adam’s counterpart, Jesus Christ defeated death’s dominion and introduced a reign of righteousness. As a result, righteousness is now the ruling principle in the lives of all who belong to Christ.

Apply the Word

When we look at a photographic negative, we must mentally reverse the colors to get a sense of what the image looked like. Today’s text asks us to do the same when it comes to Adam and Christ. Adam’s failure helps us to understand the nature of Christ’s obedience. Focusing on Jesus Christ helps us to understand ourselves as well. The new life that has come to us as a result of what Jesus has done is characterized by Christ’s power, not Adam’s failure.

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include Dangerous Virtues: How to Follow Jesus When Evil Masquerades as Good (Moody Publishers), The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

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