Who and what do you represent?
When I think about it, I find that I represent a lot of people and things. I represent my kids when I clothe them and feed them, when I sign their permission slips and keep an eye on their hearts. I represent my wife in the way I honor her and care for her reputation when I speak about her to others. I represent the church I serve when I am out in public. I represent people and organizations who ask me to work for them.
When someone represents us, we forfeit a little bit of control over how accurate and faithful their representation will be. Give someone too much representation, and they could tarnish your good name. Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever done this to someone else?
The opening chapters of the Bible tell us the story of our first representative before God—Adam, the first man. Adam’s responsibility was simple: to obey God and enjoy Him and the world He made forever.
But we know the story. Adam was tempted to disobey, and he did. From that point on in the Bible, Adam represents all of us and his representation tells a dark tale of humanity’s ongoing, ever-deepening disobedience and rejection of our Maker.
When Adam fell, he didn’t simply reject one of God’s laws. He rejected God Himself. God’s wisdom, His boundaries, and the confidence that God’s interactions with Adam were fueled by love were all dealt a blow. So pervasive is our inherited brokenness that later, after the flood, the writer of Genesis describes the inclinations of man’s heart as being only evil, all the time (Genesis 8:21).
The story of Christmas is the story of God’s radical remedy for our deepest need: reconciliation with the One Who made us. How would God do this? He would send a new representative—Jesus Christ, who would be tempted but not succumb, who would receive the Law of God and keep it.
Both Adam and Christ would be tested, and both, interestingly, in a garden. Adam’s story is one of failing to obey. Jesus’s story is one of fulfilling God’s Law perfectly.
With Adam as our representative, we are bound to pay the wage of our sin. But when our faith is in Christ, we are represented before God by His Son’s perfect righteous life, His sacrificial death, and His victory over the grave. Martin Luther called this the “Great Transfer”—all my sin would be placed upon Jesus on the cross and all His righteousness would cover me like a robe.
But for Christ to be our true and better representative, the Son of God would have to become a man. So as Christmas draws near, and as we study together all the ways Christ has represented us before God, consider how glorious is the gift that lies wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And may your celebration of Christmas be marked by your worship of Jesus.
written by Russ Ramsey