Tag Archives: Romans 5:12

Death: by Karl Barth

Commenting on Romans 5:12 (some paragraph breaks added) –

Death is the supreme law of the world in which we live. Of death we know nothing except that it is denial and corruption, the destroyer and destruction, creatureliness and naturalness. Death is engraved inexorably and indelibly upon our life. It is the supreme tribulation in which we stand. In it the whole riddle of our existence is summarized and focused; and in its inevitability we are reminded of the wrath which hangs over the man of the world and the world of man.

So completely is death the supreme law of this world, that even that which, in this world, points to the overcoming and renewing of this world, takes the form of death. Morality appears only as the denial of the body by the spirit; the dying Socrates is the only fitting emblem of philosophy; progress is no more than a restless negation of the existing natural order. No flame – except the flame of the Lord! (Exod. iii. 2) – can burn without destroying. Even the Christ according to the flesh must die that He be appointed the Son of God (Rom. i. 3, 4).

We too must pass through death, if we are to render unto God the honour due to Him. We have to learn that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. We would like to turn our backs on all this, if we could. We would like to protest against death in the name of life, if it were not that the protest of death against our life is far more venerable, far more significant. We try to bury out of sight the suspicions and reservations which accompany every unbroken affirmation we make, and to protect our eyes against the grey light of the final negation which is preceded by a whole host of preliminary negations. But we are unable to persist long in our attempt; for it is all too evident that the grey light does not proceed from our caprice, but has a primary origin. It envelops our whole life (Rom. i. 10), for there is no vital and creative human action which is not born in pain and revolution and death.

We are powerless; we are lost. Death is the supreme law of our life. We can say no more than that if there be salvation, it must be salvation from death; if there be a ‘Yes’, it must be such a ‘Yes’ as will dissolve this last and final ‘No’; if there be a way of escape, it must pass through this terrible barrier by which we are confronted.

From The Epistle to the Romans.

The lego kids’ talk series

At our church, we include a children’s talk in almost every Sunday service. Most of the time the talk is from the same Bible passage that the sermon will be on. Recently, we did a seven week series on Song of Songs. I decided not to try kids’ talks on this beautiful and sensual poem! Instead, I did my first ever kids’ talk series: seven weeks just for them, on a theme, with consistent ‘props’.

It was my lego kids’ talk series. Here’s a breakdown.

Talk 1 used Acts 7:50/Isaiah 66:2. The initial point is that God made everything. It’s a little like when we make something, such as the lego ‘creature’ (below). From this point, I noted two linked ideas. Firstly, that God is in control of everything. Secondly, that God loves world – he made what he wants. With my and my lego beast, I was in control of choosing its colours and shapes. And I assembled the pieces just the way I like them.


Talk 2 used Romans 1:22-23. The creature pictured above made a second appearance. We then recapped the points from the previous Sunday (and the kids’ surprised me by remembering in detail). This week’s point was an important reality check. Because God made all we should  thank him & love him. But instead we choose to love & thank things he made. I described sin as loving something God made more than we love God himself.

Talk 3 used Romans 5:12. The series so far had reached the reality of sin. Now what happens? We learn that sin has definite consequence, the punishment of death. To show this, In this, I broke into pieces the lego creation. I wanted the content to leave the impression here, not some scary presentation style. So I went gently in words, and also in how I broke the lego apart. No theatrical violence, this is serious and sad!

Talk 4 used 2 Corinthians 5:17. By this time the kids knew the lego would soon appear. I was encouraged by their mock groaning (‘Not that lego again’), because they the complaints were just fun – they definitely engaged in the talk and questions. The talk stated with loose lego pieces in view. In this talk, we spoke about Jesus. The point was this: because Jesus’ death instead of us, we are re-created. The phrase I used a few times, ‘Jesus died to fix us up.’ As  made the point, I re-assembled the broken creation. I might be wrong, but it felt profound to hold up a re-created block object and declare, ‘Jesus died to fix us up.’

Talk 5 used 1 Corinthians 15:20. Time for a new item. As well as the block creature pictured above, I added a second one as shown below. They were identical in shape, but the second had well-organised colour. It was the same, but more attractive. This lego work represented the risen Lord Jesus. I mentioned: Jesus is alive; Jesus can never die again; Jesus has everything just right. My point was that what Jesus is, all his followers will become (even if we are a bit untidy and messed up now). Jesus’ resurrection guarantees resurrection life for all who trust him.

Talk 6 used Hebrews 1:3. Jesus sat down at Father’s side. Therefore we cannot see him, but his still active. Jesus is ruling the universe by his word! For this one, the two lego shapes – representing us and Jesus – started in public view. While all were watching, I ‘hid’ the Jesus block in a bag and said, ‘There is only one block here.’ The kids automatically yelled out that of course there were two – just that we can’t see one of them. From this, I underlined that the risen Jesus is real, though now we can’t see him.

Talk 7 used Acts 10:42. Jesus, whom we cannot now see, will appear again. When he does, all we know that he is God’s appointed judge. He will divide people on the basis of those who trust him or reject him. So trust him today! The photo below is from the end of this talk. I started with just the Jesus figure, and said he will appear again. Then I poured all my loose lego pieces in one confused pile. Sorting the pieces into colours (like Jesus, and unlike Jesus) gave the kids the hint as to what Jesus will do: divide people. What’s the difference? Trust in Jesus, or rejection of Jesus. Since that is what will happen, let’s all trust him now.