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—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.
The wrath of the Jews was on full display for all to see as they demanded the crucifixion of Jesus as he we mocked, given a trial without due process and nailed upon the cross to die. Our Lord displayed great power as he demonstrated great mercy to those who were oppressed. He gave sight to the blind, fed the hungry, and freed the man who was made insane by demonic possession. Matthew 15:30-31 describes Jesus’ actions by the Sea of Galilee, “And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them, so that the crowd wondered, when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel.” So, why would these people turn against the compassionate healer of Israel? The quick answer is because he claimed equality with God. To the Jews this was blasphemy, but this testimony did not cease when Jesus died.
Others proclaimed his true identity when Jesus could no longer speak about himself because of his death. After Jesus’ death, the earth, the source of Judaism, the dead, and the guard all confirm Jesus’ own testimony about himself. First, the place of God’s abode, the temple had its curtain torn from the top to the bottom. This was the curtain that separated God from man and now it no longer exists. Its testimony was Jesus is Lord and his death made the temple unnecessary. The second testimony involved the earth as it divinely shook pronouncing the true identity of Jesus resulting in an amazing declaration in Matthew 27:52-53, “The tombs were also opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.” The Jews quickly sought to kill Jesus because he raised Lazarus from the dead, but now many deceased people are raised to life after Jesus dies. Their presence and perhaps speech glorified God’s Son, Jesus. How will they silence the deceased? Lastly, those who witnessed these events proclaimed, “Truly this was the Son of God!” They were mostly right, but they saw things from the earthly perspective. They did not know the Son of God nailed on that cross would soon be raised from the dead.
Good Friday is the day when we remember Jesus on the cross as he took our sins upon himself enduring the wrath of God for our sins so we might be forgiven. Many people do not think rightly about the severity and effect of their actual sin, but in one sense it began the destruction of the entire universe once called good by the Lord. There exists clearly a relationship between Jesus’ death on the cross on Good Friday and our sins. We will examine Romans 5:12-14 as we think about the seriousness of sin and then conclude with the good news from Romans 5:15
The Birth of Sin in the World (12)
There is a difference between beautiful and good. I am certain most of us have beheld the beauty of God’s creation at various times in our lives, whether we looked at the night sky and beheld the starry heavens, looked up at the mountains, gazed down at a valley, or made the journey to the Grand Canyon. These sights are certainly beautiful, and our universe has no shortage of beauty, but good is another matter. None of us have ever gazed upon a good creation with our own natural eyes for a single moment. This assertion is a bold one considering how easily the word, good appears in our language. I suggest we use this word too often to describe things that are pleasant to us, but do remember when Jesus was called good, and he reminded the people that on one is good but God. Throughout the creation account, God often gazed upon his creation and called it good. This word has a lexical range of meanings such as pleasant, desirable, or even good, but we must remember it was God and not a future generation and fallen creatures calling it good. It was good based on God’s standards and was a sort of extension of heaven upon the physical earth.
Why is the universe no longer good? It was because of the destructive force of sin through a single agent, namely Adam. Romans 5:12 announces the arrival of sin, “just as sin came into the world through one man.” God created the physical universe to be without sin and to enjoy the goodness of God, and it did for a time. Adam walked with God in Eden and was able to enjoy a world without danger. He truly was safe in this world as he did not need to fear carnivorous beasts, insects carrying disease, or invisible viruses leading to illness or even death. He knew none of these things but enjoyed a good world and perfect union with the Lord but destroyed all these things because he chose to sin. He did not choose to sin the way we do on a continual basis throughout the course of our lives. Adam and Eve did not have a sinful nature bent toward evil but was fully able to obey the command of God, but their choice was to follow Satan. That choice parents of all nations made on that day destroyed the goodness of creation.
The Effect of Sin in the World (12b)
Adam and Eve chose to disobey God’s command to them. No, they defied the Lord, himself, as they chose to become children of Satan by doing what he suggested. The Creator’s command was not unclear or vague but extremely clear when he said, “but 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.” Apparently, Adam and Eve even placed further restriction on the fruit of the tree by refusing to even touch it, but the serpent removed all those barriers.
The effect of their sin was clearly death, just as the Lord said. Death was not introduced to them alone, but also to those generations who would come after them. It was death to all creation including every being and thing that is alive. The once good creation became corrupt and began to die that day. Adam and Eve would be driven from their home in paradise and forced to live in a corrupt world awaiting their sentence of death as every year revealed their mortality in their bodies as they aged. Our beautiful world is diseased with sin and it is dying just as we realize our own mortality.
The Name of Sin in the World (13-14)
Adam and Eve did not call their defiant action sin, but they knew what it was. They rebelled against God and I am certain they regretfully thought about it perhaps everyday of their lives as they labored for produce and saw the effect of sin all around them as animals became dangerous and their offspring became increasingly evil after every generation until the flood. Cain, the first naturally born human on the earth killed his brother because of jealousy. Many believe it was the type of offering God rejected, but this is never the case. God disproved of Cain’s offering because he did not approach the Lord in worship as he should have. He had a form of worship, but his heart was far from God. How do we know this? Because God does not rebuke his offering but Genesis 4:5, “but for Cain and his offering he had no regard.” Cain was the problem and not his offering, because God will reject the offering that does not proceed from a heart of worship. God warned him about his sin, but instead of repentance, he decided to kill his brother. Humanity’s expression and participation in sin became pronounced after every generation. Just a few generations in Cain’s line, we meet a man named Lamech who said to his wives, “I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.” This certainly is evidence of every generation becoming more arrogant in their participation of sin instead of godliness leading to the flood. Just before the flood God observed humanity’s heart in Genesis 6:5, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
None of those early generations called their actions sin, but they knew they were rebelling against God, and they knew the consequence of their sins was death. It was the Law that clearly defined for the people what sin was and then announced them guilty of breaking their covenant with the Lord. I think God’s motivation for giving the Law however was not to identify humanity as sinners worthy of death, but by enacting a covenant in which the Lord would create a people for his own possession. So, in this sense, there is hope in the Law, because God is merciful as he initiates a relationship with sinful humanity.
The Hope of Good Friday (15)
I know it is not very inspirational when we speak of sin and death, but it is necessary as we think about Good Friday. Some may have difficulty thinking how Jesus’ death on the cross could be good, but there are certainly a couple of answers. First, it is good because Jesus will restore the good back into the universe. In other words, that which was lost at the Fall will be restored on the last day. We know this is the case as we read Revelation and it will not be an easy process but, in the end, God will restore the entire universe for his glory. Revelation 21:1-4 describes this recreation in this way, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’” We should notice a few things about this Revelation passage. God will destroy the old heaven and earth and he shall recreate one not affected by sin. God will again dwell with his people in this holy city. Also, the consequence of sin will be no more as there will no longer be death or pain. In other words, there is a day approaching when God will cause death to die.
Another reason why Good Friday is good is because of what Jesus did on the cross. As stated earlier, Jesus endured the wrath of God for us on the cross, which means if Jesus did not die on the cross then we would still be in our sins awaiting God’s judgment for our sins. Jesus on the cross, means there is hope for salvation for humanity. Not only is Jesus a hope of salvation for us, but he is the hope of salvation for all who call on his name. Jesus’ death on the cross was the beginning of the gospel. 1 Corinthians 15:3 describes the gospel in this way, “for I delivered to you as first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. . .” Logically speaking, if Jesus did not die on the cross, then he would have neither been buried nor raised from the dead, but because he was killed on the cross, buried, and then raised from the dead then we certainly have hope.
We do not celebrate the death of Jesus on Good Friday with lightheartedness but it should be approached with serious, soul-heavy reflection as we consider the depth of our sin and what it cost God to redeem us from it. I am reminded of a line from what is called the Seminary Hymn at Southern Seminary that reads, “A world by sin destroyed and dead; a world for which the Savior bled.” I exhort you today, on this Friday to consider the death of Jesus on the cross with seriousness and prepare your heart for the joy of the resurrection because even the disciples had to experience the agony of their Lord’s death before they could experience joy of his resurrection.
Pastor Steven Lookabaugh has been our pastor since 2016 and is passionate about proclaiming the gospel of God through the weekly exposition of God’s Word; believing application is possible when one understands the historical/cultural meaning of the text. He leads our church in fulfilling our purpose toward the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations, and to the Great Commandment as we seek to love one another. He has a Doctor of Ministry degree in Expository Preaching from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with an emphasis on parabolic exposition. He is married to Jennifer and they have three children, Andrew, Kate and Olivia.