Our reflection today is based on Romans Chapter 5 which is one of the chapters in the Bible that is full of theological significance since the concept of Justification is dealt with and as history will show it was this subject – Justification by Faith – more than any other which tore the church apart and ushered in the Reformation. However we are not dealing with Justification by Faith in this article.
In Romans 5:6-11 on which we shall reflect, the Apostle Paul is detailing the benefits and privileges that accrue to Christians and he is showing them aspects of their past life, features of their present standing and highlighting their inheritance through Jesus Christ our Lord.
In this article we want to really focus on what Jesus did for us all and remember the supreme sacrifice that was necessary that we may be saved. To those who have not yet given serious consideration to their spiritual situation nor looked at where they want to spend eternity this might be a good time to reflect on these things. Jesus is a lot more than just a senior historic figure, someone we respect for his defiance of outmoded tradition, a man of great esteem and charisma teaching new things and setting a great example to the entire world; he is the one that did it all to save mankind.
First let us be aware that Jesus saw our pitiful condition
Before the world was created God saw us as we really are; pitiful. Nothing about God can ever be accurately referred to as an afterthought for although God made man upright God knew, and was prepared for, man’s untimely decline. All through the Old Testament era humanity had parted company with God and chosen a path of futility and ultimately hopelessness and even God’s chosen people were little different. The Jews sought to immerse themselves in ritualistic righteousness and ceremonial symbolism along with national legalism and ended up just like the gentiles; far from God in precept and practice. All this continued until God stepped in and change that trajectory with the birth of Jesus Christ and his eventual death on the cross of Calvary and subsequent resurrection. From that moment onwards Jesus Christ, as the mediator between God and man, has been intimately involved in providing our salvation and being our heavenly representative. As such he deals with us as individuals; just as we are and he sees everything.
We know for sure that Jesus saw our weakness
Some people like to pretend and exaggerate and deceive other people that things are better than they are. No matter how puffed up and boastful sinners are one thing that is striking is that when put to the test we are found to be weak. Romans 5:6 tells it as it is for it tells us that, “For when we were yet without strength…” Jesus acted. The mightiest sinner exercising all his considerable resources is utterly powerless to break out of the bondage of his sinful nature. Paul acknowledged this as he cried out, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death” (Romans 7:24) History is replete with people making simple, well intentioned, promises and New Year resolutions and failing to keep them however hard they try. All of us stand before God helpless and unable to free ourselves from our sinful status. We must recognize our weakness for failure to do this is a big impediment if we are to be saved.
God knew that mankind had reached a point of utter weakness, like an exhausted swimmer battling the murky waters about to submerge for the final time, and Jesus not only saw our weakness but set about to assist us.
We realize with certainty that Jesus saw our wickedness
Openness and transparency and especially honesty are things we talk about a lot but seldom practice and we know that human beings like to conceal their true nature from each other. In most court cases the accused tries to stop the court from finding out things and we know of courting couples who talk a lot and say nothing and we all try to cover up personal transgressions. We should remember that God sees us as we really are and our wickedness is self evident. In the same Romans 5:6 the Bible saw us as, “…the ungodly…” and the “ungodly” are those who live their lives without fear of God and conduct themselves as if God does not exist.
We are in error if we think that the “ungodly” is so called because of the volume of wickedness he has committed. The unsaved teenager is just as “godless” as the unsaved mass murderer and Jesus sees it all.
We are convinced that Jesus saw our waywardness
The concept of sinning, as used here, is the individual missing the mark (in much the same way as an archer consistently missing the whole target) because of his sinful status and in Romans 5:8, the Bible states it thus, “…while we were yet sinners…” Man’s journey through life is a litany of trials and failures and no matter how high he aims or his fastidious approach to morality he will always fall short of God’s standards. This does not mean that man does badly all the time for bad people at times do good things and the reverse is equally true that good people on occasions do bad things and it is this erratic and unpredictable behavior that is a prominent feature of mankind.
We should be warned about the deceptive nature of good works for although they may be comforting, and ease our consciences in certain situations; they will never earn us salvation or get us to our desired heavenly destination.
We know beyond doubt that Jesus saw our warfare
Everyone in the world knows about and has experienced an intense existential conflict going on all around and within us. While this conflict spills over and is marked by physical struggle nevertheless it is essentially a spiritual battle. There are two sides in this spiritual war and you are on one side or the other and if you are not saved you are in Satan’s camp and therefore carries the status as Romans 5:10 describes it, the “…enemy.”
The unsaved church member is as much “the enemy” and at war with God as someone who is an atheist!!
So too is the unsaved but friendly and likable gentleman down the street who won’t harm a fly. All those outside of Christ are warring against God. Remember God knows who side you are on.
All of these, our weakness, our wickedness, our waywardness and our warfare against God add up to a formidable barrier between us and God. Even if we wanted to come to God and be reconciled, and the evidence suggests we didn’t, this barrier was just too difficult to overcome. Thanks are due to God for Jesus who saw our pitiful condition and set about to rescue us.
Then let us notice that Jesus showed his peerless compassion
Having seen our hopeless, pitiful condition Jesus Christ is moved with compassion toward us and we are awestruck by his peerless compassion. We can describe Jesus as supremely compassionate without fear of contradiction and all through the gospels we hear again and again that Jesus, whenever he saw human distress, was moved with compassion.
We observe that his compassion is superior
Most people understandably would not sacrifice their life for anybody, some would for their family or close friends but none would do so for their enemies, but Christ did exactly that as shown in Romans 5:6, “…in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” This is superior compassion that transcends our understanding and defines our saviour very well. The compassion of Jesus for lost humanity is awesome in concept and flawless in exhibition as he has demonstrated all through his earthly ministry.
He demonstrated it in feeding the hungry multitude as stated in Matthew 9: 36. He demonstrated it in healing the sick that flocked to him as recorded in Matthew 14:14. He demonstrated it in Bethany when confronted with the death of Lazarus and this is reported in John 11: 33-35.
We notice that his compassion is substantial
The compassion of Jesus Christ is more than just providing food for the hungry or healing a sick person but has to do with substantial matters like eternity. This is shown in that he gave his life not for his friends but as Romans 5:8 shows, “…while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” We were his enemy and he knew it yet he made the ultimate sacrifice for us and we should realize that this compassion, this great love for us, is important and so worthwhile that it changes the status of sinful man in wonderful ways.
It has the potential to elevate our position – we become justified, “That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:7)
It has the potential to ensure our protection – saved from wrath, “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” (Romans 5:9)
It has the potential to enable our peace – we become reconciled, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1) No one remaining in sin can experience this for the Bile tells us, “There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked” (Isaiah 57:21)
We realize that his compassion is significant
When looked at as a whole, the difference this peerless compassion makes as it impacts sinful, weak, wayward, wicked, bellicose mankind is nothing less than life changing as Romans 5:10 shows, “…saved by his life…”
Jesus by his great compassion for mankind took the ultimate step in dying on Calvary’s cross for all mankind and for all time and that is of supreme significance. Think about this carefully and ask yourself the question. Would anyone other than Jesus care for you so much as to volunteer to die so painfully on your behalf? This is the measure of his compassion and love.
Finally let us be thankful that Jesus sustains our perfect concord
There are numerous privileges to every believer because of the ministry and person of Jesus Christ not the least of these is the perfect concord, the essential harmony that now pertain between us and God. Too often we forget the wondrous benefits of salvation and take things for granted and we fail to do as recommended by David, “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord.” (Psalm 116:12-13) Jesus did so much for us we have only to examine them and be extremely thankful.
We are grateful that Jesus was the perfect referee (the god-man)
When two opposing sides exist, God’s on the one side thoroughly good dispensing justice and the other, fallen man thoroughly bad deserving of annihilation then someone special is required to bring concordance and in Romans 5:10 it states, “…we were reconciled to God by the death of his son…” The Bible attests elsewhere to this unique role that could be filled by no other than Jesus Christ, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1Timothy 2:5) It is awesome for us to lay so much on Jesus’ shoulders but extremely comforting to know that we have someone who is well able to do the job to the fullest. The saints of old who predated Moses were not too sure of this person and the perception that this “referee” does not exist brought acute agony to the soul of a righteous man, “Neither is there any daysman [referee] betwixt us that might lay his hand upon us both.” (Job 9: 33)
All believers can rejoice for Jesus has bridged that gap and in him we have the perfect referee.
We are delighted that Jesus is perfectly righteous (the lamb without blemish)
The Mosaic Laws, in particular the ordinance relating to animal sacrifices, required that the lamb chosen for killing for the sacrifice was to be without blemish, “And if his offering for a sacrifice of peace offering unto the Lord be of the flock; male or female, he shall offer it without blemish.” (Leviticus 3:6) Jesus alone fully met this criterion in every respect because he was sinless in nature and sinless in practice and Peter described him thus, “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.” (1 Peter 2: 21-22)
Hallelujah to the Lamb for he satisfied God’s just requirements for redeeming all mankind for all time. How wonderful is that?
We regret but realize why Jesus was punished relentlessly (the sacrificial lamb)
The sacrificial lamb, according to Leviticus 4:25, was to be slaughtered and its blood poured out; in like manner Jesus was sacrificed on a cruel cross for us, “This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.” (Acts 2: 21 NIV)
Our salvation was at great cost to God’s begotten Son and we should never take it lightly.
A few years ago a film by Mel Gibson called “The Passion of the Christ” gave us a graphic depiction of how relentlessly Jesus was punished and I am told grown people wept at what they saw.
We rejoice to know that Jesus ascended to represent us (the risen savior)
Humanity, saved and unsaved, still needs representation before Almighty God and the risen Christ has gone to be our intercessor and advocate. For believers Jesus’ advocacy is what aids and preserves us as we struggle through this life, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2: 1) Where the unconverted are concerned they need not fear rejection in approaching God because Jesus will take care of them, “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7: 25)
All of this representation is for our benefit and gives us peace of mind because we know that even if our prayers and requests to God are insufficient and faulty Jesus will handle the matter perfectly.
We can reflect with awe and wonder how much Jesus has done for us. How much he has suffered on our behalf? How much he is still doing for all mankind as Peter reminds us that, “The Lord is…not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) Jesus will never stop working on our behalf until time is no more and even at this moment he is right here to help us. Let us never forget that in the ups and downs of a hectic and for many a troubled life Jesus and Jesus alone has done it all for us.
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