Ash Wednesday February 22, 2023
“Adam” Genesis 2:7
Rev. John R. Larson Ascension Lutheran Church Littleton, Colorado
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)
I guess you could call me “Dusty”. That is how I began. God took some dust, some dirt, from the ground and made me into the first human being. I am Adam and I’m the one who will address you today.
What humble beginnings!! But what a huge honor. All of you are connected physically, biologically to me. From me came all of human history. When you read the account of creation it is stunning, isn’t it? He makes the stars, the sun and moon. He makes the fish, the birds and everything that has been made and He declares that all He made was good. And then He made me!! “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
You probably have heard Psalm 8. It talks about not just me but all of humankind. But remember I was the first!! “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” Get this – “You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.” (Psalm 8:3-5)
Little “Dusty” didn’t stay small and insignificant. It goes on – “You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet.” (Psalm 8:6)
But for all the honor that I was given, I followed it with dishonor. I was amazingly irresponsible. He put us – “Dusty” and Eve in the Garden of Eden, which means delightful, by the way, with this word, “You may surely eat of every tree in the garden, but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:17) You may be asking me, “What part of ‘no’ didn’t you understand?
You know what happened. He said “no” and we said, “why not?” And when we disobeyed I assumed no responsibility for the sin. That darn snake was so believable. And when God came looking for us, I let Him have it. He asked what we had done and I let Him know He couldn’t put anything on me, “The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it.” (Genesis 3:12)
I’m embarrassed. God honored me by letting me be the first human created. And I dishonored Him with my sin and my childish irresponsibility. I see that title of your series this Lent is – By My Hand, For My Sake. This fall was by my hand. St. Paul when he wrote one of the books of the New Testament lays the blame for this mess on me. He would say that this mess came by my hand!! Listen to these words:
“Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin.” (Romans 5:12)
“By the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man.” (Romans 5:17)
“Through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners.” (Romans 5:19)
I infected everyone by my actions that day. Today you had ashes imprinted on your forehead. Why? All because of me. That was my gift to you. After my sinful choice, that word that He had promised – “the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” – started in motion. He would then confirm it with those words you heard, “From dust you came and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19)
Yes, this messed up world was by my hand. But I think it was by your hand too. I’m the only sinner in this room? I don’t think so!!
But it was amazing what I also heard on that day. He made a promise that for our sake something greater was in store. He had already spoken to me, then to Eve, and he addressed the slimy devil – that snake. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he will crush your head and you shall strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15) God gave a promise that the seed of the woman (Jesus? Yes, Jesus!!), would crush the head of the serpent, the devil. Why? He saw our dilemma and He provided the answer, His answer.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “First Adam” and “Second Adam”? I’m the first Adam – the first man. But who would the second Adam be? Would it be Cain? He was our first born. Maybe I should have named him Junior. No – the Second Adam is Jesus. Paul, who already told you what I brought you by my hand tells us what Jesus brought for our sake. “The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.” The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven.” (I Corinthians 15:45,47)
I was the irresponsible one. But He, Jesus, assumed responsibility for me and you. Listen, “Just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many are made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:18-19) I’m glad that I was the first Adam but I’m even happier than I wasn’t the final Adam. My act wasn’t the last word that this world would be cursed with. I’m glad that what was brought by my hand – death, separation from God – was answered by the Second Adam – Jesus. His death for our sins, His resurrection from the grave is all for our sake, for our life. For my sake, for your sake, for the sake of all, Jesus came and crushed the head of the devil.
Thanks for letting me speak. I think confession is good for the soul. But more than that, telling you about Jesus is the news that every generation, from the very beginning of time until now, needs to hear. Amen? Amen!!