The creation of Adam and the birth of Jesus Christ. The first and the last miraculous birth described in the Bible. I want to compare these two this Christmas season as we remember and celebrate the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Adam: The First Miraculous Birth
…then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature (Genesis 2:7)
This is a wonderful miracle. God intervened into the natural, physical realm and formed Adam. Not only did he work a miracle through making Adam, but he also put his divine mark on him. The verse above says that God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.” Before this, the formation of Adam was a natural process of bringing physical elements together, but God’s life-giving work comes through divine intervention and can only be a miracle.
Note that when God creates a living thing in Genesis 1, he creates them “according to their/its kind” (1:21, 24, 25). But when God creates humanity, he creates them “in our image, after our likeness”(1:26, emphasis mine). Surely, humanity is divinely set apart from the rest!
Because God created Adam like this, we might be tempted to describe him as perfect. While this word can mean “really good,” it more appropriately points to something that is complete. Consider the two verses before Genesis 2;7:
When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground. (Genesis 2:5-6)
In the verses above, everything is still developing. Everything is good, we know that from Genesis 1. But this place is far from completion. A more appropriate word would be potential. This move from potential to perfection is something in which God wants Adam to be a major participant:
And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2: 8-9)
Here God has given Adam a place to work. He has given him a place to rule. There is great potential in Eden. But inherent to potential is some amount of tension. The tension here comes not from God’s faithfulness to Adam, but from Adam’s willingness to participate in God’s vision for him. What will Adam choose? Will he avoid temptation?
We know how the story goes. Adam will choose sin over God, and will ruin his potential for perfection, leading humanity into a downward spiral of pride and self-reliance.
For as by a man came death… For as in Adam all die… (1 Corinthians 15:21-22)
Jesus Christ: The Last Miraculous Birth
“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:30-34)
Here is the greatest miracle of all time. The miraculous conception and birth of Jesus Christ. He is the God who came to be with us. He is the divine, Almighty God who took on human form. More than being endowed with God’s image, as Adam was (Genesis 1:26), Jesus is God himself.
And Jesus’s coming brought so much more than potential, for his coming brought no tension for his people. The Birth of Jesus meant redemption and resolution. The life of Christ started with a fulfilled promise and ended with a proclamation of perfection on the cross:
It is finished. (John 19:30)
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)
Jesus was born to fulfill the law. He came to earth to reconcile us to God the Father. Jesus came to fulfill all the Old Testament prophecies given to God’s people through his prophets. He was, and is, the fulfillment of their, and our, hope.
For those who knew what this meant, there was no tension in them. Consider Simon who saw baby Jesus and exclaimed: “for my eyes have seen your salvation” (Luke 2:30). He does not beg the Lord to let him live longer to see more—he has seen fulfillment!
Or the angel who appeared to the shepherds and said, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).
The angel does not say “For unto you is born this day in the city of David someone who will become your Savior.” Jesus is the Savior!
For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:21-22)
Since Christ fulfilled the law and offered salvation to all who believe in him, the tension between the serpent and the offspring (Genesis 3:15) has been resolved. The offspring, Christ, though bitten by death, has defeated death and was raised to new, everlasting life. That conflict is resolved.
But there may be some tension that needs resolving this Christmas season for you, reader. Christ has offered you great potential—a new life found in him. And you face a choice like the one Adam faced. Like Adam, you can choose self-reliance and place yourself at the center of your life. Or in Christ, you choose to live for the vision God has for your life.
Which will you choose this Christmas?