November 27 – Genesis 1:26-31

Main focus: Jesus is the greater Adam. Adam was the source of death; Jesus is the source of life.

This Advent we’re turning to a nerdy theological topic that is remarkably useful for understanding the Bible: typology. I’ll define that in a moment, but before I do, this is super important to grasp: the point of this series is not to show off nifty Bible trivia. The point is to show that Jesus is Greater; he’s the greater Adam, Isaac, Joseph, and David, and these figures in the story of the Bible are meant to point to him. In turning all the way to the beginning of the Bible we can see that Jesus is the human, heir, rescuer, and king that the Bible has always anticipated, “whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days” (Micah 5:2b).

In the Bible, a type is something that foreshadows a future, fuller expression. For example, Jesus is called the Lamb of God because he is the perfect fulfillment of the Passover lamb. In the Exodus, the Passover lamb was killed in order to spare the lives of faithful Israelites so they could be freed from Egypt.

However, the Passover lamb is the shadow and Jesus is the substance (see Col 2:17). Jesus’ death is a fuller picture of the Passover since his blood saves not merely one nation but a people from every tribe, tongue, and nation, and saves them not merely from physical slavery in Egypt but spiritual slavery to sin, and saves them not merely to a mortal life of freedom from this slavery but to an eternal life of freedom, and saves them not merely to worship God at Mt. Sinai from afar but saves them to a life in which God will dwell among them.

But, as with all things when reading the Bible, we need to keep our heads about us; when it comes to typology it’s easy to get too crazy and see shadows where there aren’t any. One example is connecting the red cord that Rahab tied in her window (Joshua 4) to Jesus’s blood on the cross since, quite obviously, both are red. Another more nuanced example is connecting Noah’s ark to Jesus’s cross because, of course, they’re both made out of wood. A connection between these two sets certainly exists conceptually, but only because both are involved in God’s plan to rescue, not because of the color or building material.

The safest bet with typology is to rely on signs and symbols that the Bible itself connects to Jesus. John 1:29 declares him to be the Lamb of God, for instance, while Hebrews connects him to many individuals in the Old Testament like Moses (Heb 3:1-6), Melchizedek (7:1-22), and the high priest (8:1-10:39). Regarding Adam, two passages make the connection to Jesus: Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:20-49.

To back up a bit though, in discussion we’ll skim from Genesis 1 to 3 to see the commission that Adam and Eve were given and how they failed to be and do all that God had commanded. Then we’ll turn to the Romans passage in our discussion to get a bit more framing on the ramifications of this failure plus how Jesus is like Adam but far, far better.

For example, in that passage we’ll see how “the free gift” of Jesus is not like “the trespass” of Adam, for through Adam many have died but through Jesus many have received not merely life but grace from God. Though Adam was made to rule over earth with Eve as God’s viceregents, he introduced the reign of death. But the Second Adam, the “image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15), died in order to make a way for life and in order that he might have dominion over all things, including death.

Before we end discussion we’ll tie in with the questions that are included with the paper Advent wreaths we started handing out last Sunday (Didn’t get one? Grab one next Sunday!). No matter who you do this with, just yourself, the folks you live with, or your family, these questions and the candle lighting will be a helpful tool for slowing down this Advent season and reflecting on the wonder of Jesus’s birth.

We’ll ask a similar question to the Advent discussion, in short, “why did God send Jesus to the earth?” Then we’ll wrap up with a similar question to the whole point of the Advent wreath: How can this help us worship Jesus this Christmas? Our prayer for our Greater series, and for Christmastime for all our folks at Vintage, is that we would leave this season with one thing firmly ensconced in our minds and blooming in our hearts: Jesus is Greater.

Questions for Discussion

• Could someone read Genesis 1:26-31 for us?

• What stood out to you from the passage?

• According to this passage, what all was mankind meant to be and do?

• Skim ahead to chapter 3. How did Adam and Eve fail to be and do what God had intended?

• Could someone read Romans 5:12-17 for us?

• According to this passage, what does Adam’s failure mean for us?

• How does this help us understand why God sent his Son to the world?

• How does this help us understand our need for Jesus?

• How can this help us worship Jesus this Christmas?