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Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7; Psalm 32,  Romans 5:12-19, Matthew 4:1-11

“By Christ and his righteousness, we have more and greater privileges than we lost by the offense of Adam.” –Matthew Henry

How often we celebrate firsts. The first tooth. The first dance. The first steps. The first anniversary. We put a premium on firsts as they indicate success. They often indicate perseverance or overcoming. Firsts are special moments in families, in churches, in communities.

From an early age I remember learning who the first people were. Undoubtedly, God celebrated the first people also as they were his true loves and companions. I also remember the picture book that showed Eve as she spoke with the serpent and led the first man, and all of us, into sin and sufferings outside of Eden, outside of God’s will. So, in truth, not every first is worthy of celebration. This first sin was instead a moment to be mourned.

But praise be to God! He is not a God who gives only firsts. No, He gives seconds and thirds and more, if needed. He is a God who seeks after men and offers them many opportunities to give themselves to Him. While the first Adam was intended to bring blessing to this world and failed, the second Adam would bless this world and all its peoples eternally! “For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’ sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification” (v. 15-16).

What child would take the first gift brought to a birthday party and turn away all others, thinking, “The first gift is always the best. There is no need to open another.” In the same way, man need not look on life’s circumstances, the condition of a fallen world, and say, “This is the best there is. I will not open the gift of salvation or the blessings of the new covenant.”

While we are apt to celebrate firsts, let us this Lenten season recognize the truth given to us in the second Adam whose “one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.” May we rejoice because “just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man” (1 Corinthians 15:49). Praise be to God!

Rev. Libby Newman – Batesburg Church of the Nazarene – Batesburg, SC

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