Why did Jesus have to come to earth, and why did He come as a man? Many of us could rattle off an answer with little thought: “to die for our sins.” Without question, this is true. But it doesn’t paint a full picture of the reason for Jesus’s incarnation, death, and resurrection. It doesn’t say much about why God saved us by sending His Son as a man. And it doesn’t reflect the depth of our need.
To see why humanity needed Jesus, we must go back to Genesis chapter 3. Here we find Adam and Eve, the first people, created into sinless bliss with a home, a purpose, and a covenant promise. They were God’s and each other’s without shame or fear or flaw—until Satan wreaked havoc in Eden. He twisted and denied the words of God: “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1). And they believed him. So they did the one thing God had said not to do; they took and ate the fruit, introducing sin into the world, and sin has not ceased since.
Our instinct at this point is to blame Adam and Eve, to act as if we would have gotten it right. But the apostle Paul deflates that egotistical notion: “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all people, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). See that? All have sinned, and that’s why we all face judgment. Through Adam, death and judgment entered the world, but we have been far from innocent bystanders in the centuries since. We have rightly earned God’s judgment with our own lives. So what is our hope? The second Adam, Jesus Christ.
If the phrase “second Adam” doesn’t resonate, consider Matthew 4. Unlike Adam, Jesus is not in an idyllic setting. He is in the wilderness and has eaten nothing for forty days, when Satan approaches Him. Satan’s approach is the same as it was in Eden: he takes God’s words, this time commands and promises from the Old Testament, and twists them. Satan offers food and pleasure and power, just like he did for Adam. But here is where we see the difference between Jesus, the second Adam, and the one we find in Genesis: Jesus does not cave. He upholds the word of God and wields it like a sword to parry every temptation Satan thrusts at Him, and He finishes by ordering the tempter to “Go away, Satan!” (Matthew 4:10).
Jesus did what Adam could not. “For just as through one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so also through the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19). Adam brought death. Christ, through perfect obedience all the way to the cross, brought life for all who believe. In 1 Corinthians, we see how the first man, Adam, was from dust, but the second was from heaven. “And just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven” (1Corinthians 15:49). In Christ we have life everlasting and eternal through the second Adam, our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Written by Barnabas Piper