Many people feel uncomfortable in cemeteries. Psychologists say it is closely tied to our fear of our own mortality. When we see a gravestone, we may feel the emotional loss tied to the death of a loved one. We may be reminded that we too will one day die.
Although much of Romans 5 is spent discussing sin and death, the apostle Paul begins by assuring us of peace and hope. We can experience “peace with God” through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on our behalf (v. 1). The word peace describes our present condition, and hope looks forward, past our own physical death, to eternity.
Verse 12 describes the central problem for humanity: we have all sinned, and because of sin we all face death. The apostle Paul contrasts the sin we inherited through Adam with what we were given through Christ. The death of Jesus, on behalf of the ungodly, is very rare indeed (v. 7). Christ did not die because we had somehow proved ourselves worthy. Rather, He died for us as we were—sinners (v. 8).
Note the difference between Adam’s actions and Christ’s. The consequence of Adam’s sin was death. Physical death and sickness are a common part of our existence. But this sin also resulted in spiritual death or separation from God. Death “reigned” (v. 14) from the time of Adam onward. The act of Adam had grave consequences, but the act of Jesus on the Cross brought grace (v. 15). The gift of Christ counteracted physical and spiritual death. By rising from the dead, Jesus conquered the grave and guaranteed eternal life.
Every one of us will face physical death. The grave is a bitter reality. But through Christ, we have been given the extraordinary gift of eternal life.