Wednesday

18 April 2018

Romans 5:12-21 (Sin and grace. dead or alive!)

“Just as sin exercised dominion in death, so grace might also exercise dominion through justification leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (v. 21)

Psalm: Psalm 41


Background

Yesterday’s passage left us with the knowledge of being reconciled with God, enabled by the grace of Jesus and his death on the cross for all people. Now Paul builds on this theme, but to be honest, these verses from Romans 5 are not the easiest either to read or listen to! It is a passage where Paul ‘treats’ us to some rather complicated thinking in verses 13-17, when we might prefer a polished, edited version of Paul’s take on grace overcoming sin. However, by verse 18, Paul returns to the main thread of this part of his letter.

"O loving wisdom of our God!
when all was sin and shame,
a second Adam to the fight
and to the rescue came.”
John Henry Newman (Singing the Faith 334)

The essence is that one person (Adam) got humankind into a mess in the first place by being disobedient. Just think about sin and death, the consequences of such disobedience. It needed an extraordinary action from someone else to put things right; that person is Jesus. Having said that, Jesus doesn’t simply put things right, this is not just the longed-for equaliser in the game of life. What Jesus brings us is a passport of grace that opens up the opportunity for us to live on a different level and, moreover, into a life eternally lived with God (verse 21).

Different Christians express this different way of living in various ways. Chains fall off, weights are lifted, burdens shared – all speak eloquently of a ‘lightness of spirit.’ The world’s greyness is transformed into glorious technicolour, all senses are awakened, the mundane and ordinary becomes an opportunity to appreciate everyday beauty. Loneliness can be transformed into the knowledge that Jesus lives alongside us in all circumstances, if only we are aware, and he will continue to accompany us through life, death and life again.

However I view the role of Adam (Everyman), the “fall-guy” (and why do I still get glimpses of him in the mirror?), my faith in the grace of Jesus enables me to live in a completely different way and yet in the same world. How extraordinary is that?


To Ponder

  • Hearing the news of the day, it can sometimes be easy to think the whole world is in a ‘fallen state’. Make a point of looking for those people in the public eye who offer grace, forgiveness, compassion, love and reconciliation in the world.
  • “They travel lightly whom God’s grace carries” (Thomas a Kempis). Give thanks for those people you know who “travel lightly” accompanying your own journey.

Bible notes author

Michael King

Michael King is a Methodist local preacher. From 2000-2011, he was leader of the Methodist Church's World Church Relationships team, and was the Vice-President of the Methodist Conference in 2012/2013.