12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come. 15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! 18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come. Amen.
We all like the story of the hero. The one man against overwhelming odds. Throughout history we have stories, poems, and plays that celebrate the hero. The idea of the hero inspires us; it’s who we would like to be. In the mid 1960s through the late 1970s hundreds and hundreds of Old West themed movies were made. And because so many were made in Europe, especially in Italy, they became known as “spaghetti westerns.” Most had a very similar plot. A cruel land baron was tormenting the local town. Along comes a traveling lone gunman who the town begs to help them. Despite his better judgment he decides to see what he can do. But this is a nearly impossible fight. Against all odds the hero takes down all of the bad guys with a six shooter that somehow is always filled with bullets. The town is saved, the land baron is gone, and the hero rides off into the sunset. It’s such a great story that it’s the same basic plot for the Avenger movies. Big and bad terrible villain hurts a bunch of people, good guys show up, and despite their technology or powers there is no way they can win. And yet, somehow they overcome all odds and win a clear victory. The Earth is saved, the bad guys are destroyed, and the heroes ride off to their secret lairs. Until Marvel shells out millions of dollars for another movie to be made and an even bigger and badder guy shows up to hurt innocent people. Because Marvel knows that we love the story of one against many, or the few against the impossible. We love to see the underdog win. How much fun would it be to see Iron Man show up to stop some punk kid breaking into parked cars? Or the Incredible Hulk to stopping some lazy person from crossing the street not at the crosswalk? No, we like to see our heroes face off against the difficult, the hard fought, and the impossible odds. The best part is that in the Bible we have the greatest story of all time. And it’s even better because it’s not a fictional story about heroes who wear spandex. It’s the true story of our Savior’s lonely battle against all of our terrible enemies.
But like every good hero tale we need to hear the backstory. It all started off innocently enough: things were running smoothly, perfectly. Everything that God had made were just right. But there was a temptation so simple, so subtle. One little lie. One small bite. But those small little steps took us to the edge of destruction. That first sin caused a landslide of sin and death to enter into the world. And we found ourselves in very real trouble. Satan had a foothold in our hearts. We were doomed and there was nothing we could do. Of course the blame game started right away: “It’s Eve’s fault, that woman that you put here. She made me eat the fruit.” “It wasn’t my fault! Satan made me do it.” They could point fingers all day but it wasn’t going to fix the destroyed world. Nothing could. Who could possibly save what was destroyed: enter our Hero. “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and he will strike your heel.” (Genesis 3:15) Disaster was averted. When it looked like all was lost God showed his power to save with that first promise.
destroyed by Satan, the sinful world, and even the sinfulness in our hearts. But our lone hero faces off against all of it. All the sins of the whole world of all time. How can he possibly stand up to and expect to live.
But that was the point. He knew that he was going to die in that battle. In fact he had promised that he would. It was in his death that he would be victorious. Satan was rocked back on his heels when he tried to destroy the Son of God only to find the sins of the world washed away. In that one attack Jesus took away the power that the Devil had. With the threat of sin and death taken away the Devil had no more control over us. But the body of our Savior was put into the grave. He didn’t ride off into the sunset. No, instead he rose with the sunrise just a few short days later.
With his victory Jesus brings change. “But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!” (Romans 5:15) That first sin brought sin and death to all people. That’s just the way things were. But not anymore, because Jesus has changed it all. The gift of God flows to all of those who were trapped by sin. That Grace comes to us and reminds us that we too have our sins forgiven and that we have eternal life. He fulfilled the very thing he promised to Adam and
Eve. He did it by shouldering the weight of our sins with the strength that only God has.
And he payed it with the blood that only man has. Jesus, our Hero who is true God and true man.
And just like that the whole world looks different. The clouds roll back, the darkness is gone and we stand in the light of brightest day. Because we know the victory of our God and that threats and worries that we have been holding onto are now gone. One sin brought darkness and death. One sacrifice brought us victory. Paul puts it this way: “Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.” (Romans 5:18)
That light—that peace—we have means that every part of our life is different. Just as we are no longer ruled by sin, that means that we are freed to live for our God. Instead of being afraid of what is to come, we live each day with thanks. Parents are moved to bring their children up in the knowledge of the one who saves. Friends encourage one another as we talk and share our lives. We warn each other about dangers we see in each other’s lives. And most of all, we celebrate together that we have a God who saves. Husbands and wives serve each other because they know the love of their Savior. A love that forgives mistakes and forgets misunderstandings. A love that moves us to sacrifice for each other. All of
this, the way we act, talk, think, and want is all because of one action. One perfect act of sacrifice that changed the entire direction of the world. We are not condemned because Jesus has given us eternal life.
After all, he is the hero we needed. Writers invent great characters. The lone vigilante who rides into town to get rid of those wicked cattle rustlers; who somehow rescues all of the people after sending the bad guys on their way. The characters in tights, capes, armor, and technology who decided to stand up against a villains or even entire other planets. Sure the odds look glum but somehow with a little bit of skill, luck, and computer generated imagery the Avengers save the day again. But those heroes can’t really save. And not just because they’re imaginary. No, when it comes to the greatest need those heroes couldn’t do a thing. Because there is only one powerful enough to take on our greatest enemy. A hero who faced down a world of sin. Who went toe to toe with Satan. Who tackled our sins and sinful natures. And he didn’t back down. By his power, strength, innocence, and sacrifice our hero saves us all and makes us righteous. Because one died for all. “For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19) Amen.
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. Amen.