20. King Adam

R.J. Rushdoony • Mar, 19 2024

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  • Series: Aspects of Systematic Theology
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Our Scripture this morning is John 6:47-58, and our subject: King Adam.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.” 1

Man was created by God to exercise dominion over the earth as King, Priest, and Prophet. His sin was that he sought to be as God, not rather to be a man under God. In Jesus Christ the restoration of man to his God-appointed calling takes place. He is the last Adam. Even as Adam lost dominion by seeking to be as God, and brought in sin and death to rule over man, to have dominion over man, so Jesus Christ is the last Adam and the man of dominion, created a new humanity in Himself as the Adam thereof, a new humanity born into life and righteousness.

All four gospels record a remarkable event; the miraculous feeding of the multitude. They tell us that the disciples did not understand the meaning thereof. In our Scripture this morning our Lord sets forth the meaning thereof, and clearly points to the Last Supper, and to the meaning of communion. So that we have the meaning of the feeding of the multitude, and the meaning of communion, set forth in these words of our text. Our Lord begins by saying that faith in Him means everlasting life. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” 2 He becomes our life and our sustenance.

Now this statement of course meant a dramatic break was about to take place in history. All who were born of Adam were born to sin and to die; but now our Lord declares that whoever believes puts their whole life, their trust, rests entirely upon Jesus Christ, departs from that humanity of sin and death.

Then next He goes on to say that the manna of the wilderness which their fathers did eat and died, is now replaced with a new manna, a greater manna, Himself; and He is the living bread. He declares that He is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof and not die.

“I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

Now, there was no one there who could mistake what He was talking about, the comparison to manna which kept people alive in the wilderness, and now a manna replacing that which would give everlasting life; that manna is Christ Himself. That manna will come to us through His life, which is to be laid down, to be sacrificed, for the life of the world.

Very obviously our Lord was talking about the atonement. He was talking to people in Israel, Jews and Israelites alike, who knew exactly what He was referring to; the atonement. He was saying moreover that He thus would overcome sin and death, that paradise would be restored through Him. The people of Christ would have life by Him, even as the old humanity dies by Adam, so the new humanity would be alive through Him.

“He that eateth me, even he shall live by me.”

We are told that the Jews therefore strove among themselves saying: “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” Now we should note the language there; ‘the Jews,’ but John is one of the people of Israel. While most of the disciples were Galileans of the Northern tribes rather than of Judah, most of the other followers were of Judah, they were Jews; and yet John uses the term: “The Jews” repeatedly, and he uses it in a religious context. The term refers to those who are outwardly in the covenant, but not truly of it. So that if we were to translate that or paraphrase it rather in modern speech, we would say: “The church members strove amongst themselves saying: “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” The point John is making is that it was those who were outwardly of the covenant, in fact leaders in the covenant-people, leaders we would say of the church, who were rejecting the atonement, who were rejecting Jesus Christ. And they said: “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” In effect they were actually saying: “How can He?” because they don’t even say ‘this man’ but ‘this’ ‘this person’ ‘he’, ‘give us His flesh to eat, how can he give us atonement?’

Now, in a sense they were theologically astute. They understood the meaning of the atonement. They understood that man cannot make atonement for his sins. They understood clearly that the atonement was by God’s appointing and God’s appointed way, that God had declared that no man could have atonement except through the blood of the sacrificial animal, was to represent the covenant-people, and was a type of one who was to come. What they were doing when they said: “How can this save us?” they were saying: “He is only a man.” they were denying the reality of the incarnation; indeed, one of the offenses for which He was condemned and crucified was, He made Himself, they said, to be as God.

They denied His deity, but that is not all. They denied that Jesus had even a prophetic role, that He was a true heir of the prophets, let alone the great prophet. They went further, they called Him we are told in Matthew 9:34 and Matthew 12:24 and elsewhere, “demon possessed.” Mark 2:7 tells us they challenged his right to forgive sins saying: “Who can forgive sins but God only?” In other words, they were very astute. They recognized that if they granted Him anything they would have to grant Him all. What did His works point to? The supernatural at the very least, His miracles very plainly pointed to the fact that the power of God was here; a power greater than man, so they could not grant that even His healings, His miracles were good, they had to be ascribed to Satan, because had they granted Him one thing, they would have had to grant Him all, that He was indeed not only very man of very man, but very God of very God.

Thus, they understood Him in some respects better than the disciples. “Who can forgive sins but God only?” They could not admit any goodness in Him without confessing all that He did witnessed to God in Him. Nor could they evade the fact that He never spoke saying: “Thus saith the Lord” but: “I say unto you.” He spoke not as the scribes and the rulers of the people, not even as the prophets; He spoke as God.

But Jesus, though very God of very God, identifies Himself here with manna; miraculous but a created thing, with bread, a human product. And He speaks of His flesh and His blood being given for the redemption of man; thoroughly human things, thoroughly creaturely, aspects of the life of man. He was making atonement as the last and greater Adam.

Even as Adam met temptation and fell, He met the Tempter and triumphed. Even as Adam one brought in death by his decision, so Adam two by His atonement destroyed the power of death. By man, Paul tells us, came sin and death; and by man came life and forgiveness of sins. So that the body and the blood that is broken for us is the body and blood of the second Adam, and we are members not of His deity, but of His humanity. And even as we in Adam inherit certain traits, and a bent to sin, a radical and total bent to sin, and death; so in Christ our greater Adam we inherit another nature, and we inherit life and righteousness.

We can as fathers and mothers recognize our own characteristics, our weaknesses, our stubbornnesses or whatever it may be, in our children; and sometimes that is one of the punishments of being a parent, you recognize in your children some of the things that were a problem in your own life. So it is we hand these things off, and Christ says: “Now, here is my body and my blood. You become members of me through my atonement, of my humanity, and my nature, my human nature; my nature as the second Adam, the last Adam, is now your nature, and so you are to feed on me and grow in terms of me; for I am the greater Adam, Adam the king who triumphs, the king who reigns.” We are members of His body and blood, His perfect humanity, His new race, and we are to have a life in community, to be members of Him and members of one another. Even as man's sin was to be as God, now God’s grace is to us that we be creatures in Jesus Christ, to know our total dependence on the triune God, and our new federal head Jesus Christ; to take up the work to which He calls us as the new people, the new race of Adam, to be like Him dominion-men, called to dominion.

We are told that after the miraculous feeding our Lord understood that they did not know the meaning thereof. They did not realize what He as the greater Adam was doing, nor the meaning of His bounty, His care, and His power. The men of His day sought manna which perishes, and He warned them, told them that they sought the manna which perishes, and that they would die like that desert generation in their sins, in the wilderness their sin created. And so His summon was to those whose:“...fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.

Jn 6:49. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.” 3 He who can feed a multitude in the wilderness, and who can give us a resurrection from the death of sin, can do yet more and care for us.

Let us pray.

* * *

O Lord our God, who has made us a new people in Jesus Christ, make us ever mindful that thou art He who having redeemed us will care for us. Thou who hast made us a new creation in Jesus Christ, having delivered us from the power of sin and death, are able to deliver us from the power of men, and from ourselves. Give us grace day byday to walk in confidence of thy care and government, and to commit all our ways unto thee who are able. Bless us ever in thy service. In Jesus' name, amen.

* * *

Are there any questions now about our lesson? Yes?

[Audience Member] When we take communion, does the wine and the bread mean the actual body of Christ or is it a symbol?

[Rushdoony] It is not the actual body, nor the actual blood, what it means is that we thereby are setting forth our actual membership in Him, in His body, so that we acknowledge that we are fed by Him, by His Word, by His Spirit. And even as we show the traits and characteristics of our parents, we have the appearance that marks our family as well as the habits and ways, so now we acknowledge that our body and blood are of Jesus Christ, that it is His traits, His life, His ways we manifest. Because we have been transferred from one humanity into another, and in taking the elements we acknowledge the sovereignty of His power in us, and that His Word governs us, and molds our ways. Yes?

[Audience Member] The Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, is that not a confusion in the scale of being, the Catholics say that the doctrine of transubstantiation makes us partakers of His divinity?

[Rushdoony] Yes, there are some who interpret it, the communion, as partaking of His being. Now there are different ways of interpreting that, there are some who have interpreted that as an actual participation in the deity, so that we are made members of God. Others have interpreted that, and I think correctly, as being partakers - that having the care, the bounty, the love of the triune God given to us. So that we have someone in our home and we make him partakers of our family table and of our bounty, and we include him in our circle, but we don’t formally make him of our blood you see.

Now that is a poor illustration, but I am trying to give the idea. There have been two historic interpretations of that in terms of Communion, and of course the ‘partaking of God’ in the sense of being made members of Him is theologically very, very wrong.

Any other questions or comments? Yes?

[Audience Member] How do you see the events which have transpired in Poland, the strike there and the settlement?

[Rushdoony]. I think it is a very significant event, the most significant fact of it is that the Soviet Union did not intervene. They did not intervene because they had just gone through a serious strike of like nature, according to reports, of auto workers in the Soviet Union, and they lost, they had to make some real concessions to the auto workers. In other words, while the Soviet Union today militarily is the strongest power in the world, economically and internally it is staggering from weakness to greater weakness. So that they were in a very precarious state, they had just had a very critical strike; they did not dare intervene against the Polish workers because it would have meant that they were against their own workers, and they might have had more strikes. And the Polish workers strike was no doubt precipitated by the fact that the Russian workers had had a strike and had gotten away with it; so it was an extremely significant event. Yes?

[Audience Member] In other words these people are wanting a little more butter, is that what you are saying?

[Rushdoony] Yes, but basically they were demanding more freedom; more freedom rather than more material benefits.

[Audience Member] Didn’t they send in workers from the Soviet Union that wasn’t being done by these striking workers?

[Rushdoony] Yes, but the fact is they did not send in troops, and that is very significant, because in previous occasions in the past decade that was the solution; troops moved immediately. One of the things that is most notable about the Soviet Empire today is this: the growing age of everybody in power. You have a bureaucracy there in the KGB, in the army, and in the Communist party. They began in 1917-18 with young men, Malenkov was somewhat older, then Khrushchev was older still, and Brezhnev and Kosygin still older, and the age of the men in the Politburo is very definitely now high in years; so that you have a bureaucracy that is showing signs of age, and less and less capable of absorbing fresh blood at any significant level.

In any culture where you do not have the strangulation of a bureaucracy and of extensive controls, what rises to the top is ability; young or old. So that if you have a situation which is totally young or totally old it indicates either a revolutionary situation or a situation of controls.

Well, that elderly character of the Soviet Politburo is very significant. The economic situation is also very significant; they are capable of a devastating first strike against almost any power, but not of a sustained war because it is an empire that is creaking internally more and more. If they can wipe out an enemy in a few weeks, well and good; but a major war with a major power- that is a long-term thing, it cannot be sustained. Yes?

[Audience Member] Do you think the discipline of the Soviet troops, that they were concerned about that their discipline would break down?

[Rushdoony] The discipline of the Soviet troops is a coercive discipline, it is better than anything we have but all the same the fact is that the youth of the Soviet Union have the same tendencies that our youth here do. They are in love with the same kind of thing, so that there is no inner discipline. The productivity, which is a good indication [of discipline] has declined all over the world, including the Soviet Union.

Now, if you have a disciplined generation you are going to have a higher productivity; this is why those who are graduates of the Christian schools, because they have a higher caliber of discipline, are going to be the preferred people of the next generation because they will have a greater productivity. There is no way of getting around it, discipline does produce that. Well, you have an undisciplined youth in the Soviet Union, and the effects will be quite deadly for anything they attempt to do, just as it is here.

Well, let us bow our heads now for the benediction.

* * *

And now go in peace, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, bless you and keep you, guide and protect you, this day and always, amen.

1 Jn 6:47–58.

2 Jn 6:47.

3 Jn 6:49,50.

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