Come, Desire of Nations, come! Fix in us Thy humble home.

Rise, the woman’s conq’ring seed; bruise in us the serpent’s head.

Adam’s likeness now efface, stamp Thine image in its place.

Second Adam from above, reinstate us in Thy love.

(from Hark the Herald Angels Sing, by Charles Wesley)

When Adam faced the serpent in the Garden of Eden, he stood in the place of the entire human race, and all his descendants for all time would inherit the consequences of his actions. As every one of us knows all too well, Adam chose to disobey God and submit himself to the curse of death, and every person who has ever lived has been doomed to sin and death because of the sin of our original father.

God wrote a specific law into the universe during the week of creation: “like begets like.” Genesis 1 tells us that the fruit tree, for example, “yields fruit according to its kind” (Genesis 1:11, NKJV); the beasts of the earth were created to give birth to beasts “each according to its kind” (v. 24). This means that a dog can only give birth to a dog, not to a cat or a cow or a cumquat. In the same way, a sinner can only give birth to a sinner; no matter how long human history continues, no human being will ever give birth to a sinless, immortal being.

With one very important exception: Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God. This was the reason that God sent Jesus to be born from a virgin, a woman who had never known sexual intimacy with a man. Mary bore the human manifestation of God’s Son, but Jesus was not produced through the seed of a man–because like begets like, and anyone born of a human father would have been born a sinner doomed to die.

Jesus came as the Last Adam to set right what was ruined by the first Adam. God in His infinite grace and mercy told Adam and Eve that Messiah would one day be born as “the seed of the woman,” an odd phrase considering that women produce eggs rather than seed–an odd phrase, that is, until its meaning became clear on the day of the virgin birth of Christ, which clarified God’s words in the Garden: “And I will put enmity between you [the serpent] and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel”  (Genesis 3:15, NKJV).

Jesus’ heel was bruised when the descendants of Adam drove spikes through His feet to nail Him to the cross, but He crushed the serpent’s head irreversibly on the day when He rose from the tomb.

This was the reason that Jesus was born, God Himself taking on human flesh in order to do what no descendant of Adam could do: lift mankind out of the curse of death, and offer us a new birth into eternal life. “Mild He lays His glory by, born that man no more may die; born to raise the sons of earth; born to give them second birth.”

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