Death By One, Life Through Another
I really like the movie WALL-E. I know it’s not many people’s favorite Pixar film (others include Toy Story, Monster’s Inc., Finding Nemo, etc.), but it’s definitely mine. One of the reasons it’s my favorite is because of how representative it is of Scripture’s redemption narrative. I know it’s an odd reason, and you probably didn’t expect to be reading about the similarities between WALL-E and the stories in the Bible but let me explain. Warning: movie spoilers ahead.
In WALL-E, everyone exists on a space station because humanity ruined the habitability of earth with trash. However, no one aboard this massive ship is aware this is the case. The existence they know and love is far from and ignorant of the earth. They get lazy, their bones shrink, and their bodies grow; they eat their meals out of a straw and don’t imagine anything better. This is a life they were born into, but simultaneously a result of mistakes made in the past.
Now WALL-E [who is the main character] pursues the much newer robot named Eve. After a long and challenging journey, they end up helping bring humanity back to earth and ultimately restore their relationship with the planet. They reach that first step of many to rebuild and clean the earth and make it their home again.
This, of course, isn’t a perfect illustration of the state we’re in today, and I’m not making parallels with specific issues, but it’s very telling of the reality of sin and our being made new.
In Genesis, we see God made everything good, and then, because of Adam’s sin, every relationship was broken right there in the garden.
👥 Our relationship with others? Broken — Adam blamed Eve immediately.
🙇 Our relationship with ourselves? Broken — they felt shame and covered themselves up immediately.
🌳 Our relationship with the earth and nature? Broken — they were removed from this perfect place, commanded to leave immediately. The world is now filled with thorns, hurricanes, floods, sickness, and death.
But the worst broken relationship of all? Our relationship with God.
Sin separates us from God, and we, still sinners, are utterly incapable of reconciling ourselves to Him — that is, we’re unable to make this relationship right again with God. Reconciling means restoring a relationship — bringing things back to the way they should be. We’re drifting in space, sometimes enjoying life, but we are apart from our home in a broken state that God clearly didn’t call perfect. In fact, to go even further, the Bible says we’re dead in sin.
Paul writes in chapter three in his letter to the Romans, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and in chapter 6 goes on to say, “the wage of that sin is death.” We’re drifting, living in the void of death and separation from our Creator.
We know that things aren’t the way they’re supposed to be, and our relationships with others, ourselves, nature, and God are all messed up. But Paul adds one more thing to this equation: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 3:23; 6:23; emphasis added)
If we back up one chapter to Romans 5, we can see one aspect of Jesus’s life and death that gives eternal merit to a new life and the free gift of grace:
“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. 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. 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.” (Romans 5:15–17)
Do you believe that Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself for your sins to save you from death and then defeated death and rose from the grave to give you the gift of a new and ultimately eternal life with Him? That is, do you believe Jesus to be your representative in life, in death, and for eternity?
We used to be represented by Adam; he failed in the garden, so our life is filled with brokenness in the mirror of his sin. But the story, as we’ve read, doesn’t stop there. Jesus Christ, our new representative, and Savior did what Adam did not in this second epicenter of eternal consequence. Not only did Jesus substitute Himself for our punishment, and not only did He defeat death in an enormous victory for our eternal life, but He also succeeded where Adam failed. Jesus did not sin.
Jesus is greater than Adam. He’s greater than Abraham, or David, or Paul. And He’s certainly much greater than you or I. Jesus is the Perfect King who says, “I represent you,” which means we have the eternal blessing of living a new life as a child, servant, and friend of Yahweh.
We were made sinners through one man, and through One man, we are made new by grace.
So, remember today that “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. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:19–21)