Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each another, love one another deeply from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God (1 Peter 1: 22-23).
Being first-born or second-born in Hebrew culture has all sorts of implications. We have already examined the privileges and responsibilities of the firstborn in the family.
Perhaps the most serious of all the implications is that the firstborn son received judgment for the rest of the family’s misdemeanours while the second-born – and all the other siblings were classified as second-born – received mercy. In other words, the first-born had to take responsibility for his siblings’ wrongdoing while they got away with murder.
This has important implications for us when it comes to judgment and mercy for our sin in God’s eyes. In Adam we are all firstborn and, since the firstborn took the rap for the sins of the family (and, in God’s eyes, there are no second-borns in Adam), we are all responsible for our own sin.
What do we need in order to receive mercy? We need to be second-born. But how can we become second-born when we are the first-born in Adam? This is where the genius of God’s wisdom comes in. He did not violate His own word but fulfilled it through His own Son.
Since Jesus is God’s first-born, He took the judgment for our sin and died in our place. Through faith in Him, we are in Him and therefore, as we all die in Adam, so we died ‘in Christ’.
Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into His death? (Rom. 6: 3).
But, as the same time, Jesus was the ‘second Adam’, created in the likeness of Adam so that in Him we might receive mercy. How do we move from judgment to mercy? As Jesus explained to Nicodemus on the night he visited Him, ‘you must be born again.’ To move from judgment to mercy you must move from first-born in Adam to second-born in Christ. How does this happen? Through believing what Jesus said.
To Nicodemus He said, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh give birth to flesh but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.’ (John 3: 5-6).
A miracle takes place in the spirit when a person who is in Adam takes Jesus at His word, confesses that He is Lord, and believes in heart that God raised Him from the dead. He is moved from firstborn in Adam to second-born in Christ. Instead of judgment which he deserved in Adam, he receives mercy because of Jesus.
For 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).
Jesus is also the first-born from the dead. Since we are ‘in Him’ in His death, we are also ‘in Him’ in His resurrection and therefore guaranteed resurrection from the dead.
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. . . He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy (Col. 1: 15)
But Christ had indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive (1 Corinthians 15: 20-22).
It is, therefore, on the grounds of God’s faithfulness to His word that we have hope that we, too, will share in the resurrection of the dead, the perfection of our bodies and the blessing of eternal life.
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.