Thursday of Lent 1 – Romans 5:12-19

12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

As I write these words my thoughts are drawn to the events of three years ago. The COVID pandemic was sweeping the globe then. The school where I taught had moved all its classes online. We could not gather for church services or for anything really. One of the burning questions which the epidemiologists and others who study such things were asking then and continue to ask today was, “who was the first person who caught this disease?” Even today some claim it was a lab-leak and others insist it was an interspecies jump at a wet market in China when this virus first infected us. Knowing this might help us plan for the next pandemic they say. I don’t know about that, but I would like to know who it was. Now, of course, the virus has run around the world. Doctors tell us that COVID will be with us like the flu or colds are just a part of life. There will be an annual flu and COVID shot, I hear.

Paul speaks of two other first men who infect the human race. Adam’s infection was the infection of sin. His disease brought us death. We have gotten used to that, sort of. Just like we are far more nonchalant about someone who has COVID these days. We ask if it is a bad case, and if not, we shrug and go on. We drive by cemeteries and attend funerals, saddened, but not surprised. Paul reminds us that it was not supposed to be that way. Adam’s disobedience did this to us.

But there is another first Man whom Paul speaks of here, one whose “infection” is different than Adam’s. For Jesus communicates to us not some virus which destroys, but the righteousness which leads to life itself. Jesus is life. When he speaks, touches, and encounters the sinful people in the Gospels they are healed, cleansed, raised, and fed. From Him radiates life itself, through baptism, right to you.

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