Though we are now in our earthly bodies, we are called to live like Christ Jesus. Jesus has made this possible for us, for he has shown us how to live in the heavenly manner here on earth.
This passage is part of a highly complex theological argument about the nature and the manner of the resurrection, about the connection and the difference between Adam and Christ Jesus and what it all means to us. These few words reveal the entire sweep of human history, indeed, the entire scope of the history of creation, from the beginning to the end, and beyond.
The first thing that we see in this passage is that our human existence, both natural and supernatural, is corporate, tied together in solidarity. Paul is using the Hebrew word ādām both in its common noun form, man, and in its proper noun form, as the specific name, Adam. He makes the connection between Adam and Jesus, then, through the common noun form. Through the first “man” we all die, through the second “man” we are made alive. In other words, in Adam, the first ādām (man), we take our earthly existence, which is corruptible and weak, subject to death. In Christ, the second ādām, we take our heavenly existence, which is incorruptible and glorious.
In love, God created the first ādām (man), who fell from grace and became subject to suffering and to death. And it is in love that God became the second ādām in Christ Jesus, who suffered and died in order to restore us to life, that is, eternal life. Though our earthly lives are still subject to the corruption of sin and death, Christ Jesus has made it possible for our bodies to one day rise again incorruptible and live forever in heaven.
What this means is that Adam, the first man, was made in God’s image, an eternal being and, though fallen, he is still loved by God for all time. That divine breath that brought Adam to life, remains in us. We have a natural body and we have a spiritual body. As Paul says later in the chapter, “The body that is sown perishable, is raised imperishable…It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body…The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.” (verses 42, 44, 47-49)
Though we are now in our earthly bodies, we are called to live like Christ Jesus. Jesus has made this possible for us, for he has shown us how to live in the heavenly manner here on earth. He has shown us in his earthly body the image of God that we are made in. In this truth we have cause for great joy. Through Christ Jesus, the second Adam, we have been redeemed, once and for all. Through him, though our earthly bodies have borne the image of the earthly man, we know that we will rise again, “in the image of the heavenly man” on the Last Day, and that we will live with him forever in heaven.
Lord, help us to honor you in all things. Give us the grace to humbly imitate Jesus through our earthly bodies in the manner that is proper to our spiritual bodies. We know that it is by your grace alone that we can do this, so we pray these things believing in the power of your most holy name, Jesus. Amen!
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