Word for Today Archive

Pastoral Commentary for Romans 5
Author: Pastor Bob Nordlie

In the past few weeks I've had to face reality. I'm getting older. Last week I went to the doctor because I was limping around on a bad knee. I couldn't even straighten my leg out completely. The doctor examined it and pronounced his diagnosis: "You're getting old." He told me my knee was full of arthritis and to take some Aleve. (Thanks, Doc.) I've also come to realize that I can't do the things on my bike that I could do just five years ago. Ride 200 miles in a day? I can barely ride 50!

Facing reality can be difficult, but it's made easier when there's both a good and a bad side, rather than just the bad. In Romans 5 Paul forces us to face reality. He gives us some descriptions of ourselves that are not very flattering. "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:6-8)

The three words that Paul uses to describe us are not very pleasant. Paul tells us that we are "powerless" to save ourselves. Why? Because we are "ungodly". Yes, by birth and nature we are "sinners" who deserve God's wrath and punishment. Not a pretty picture. In fact, it's a whole lot worse then hearing, "You're getting old."

But there's a lot of Good News there to soften the blow. Paul tells us that because Christ knew that we were powerless to save ourselves, He died for us. Paul reminds us that the reason God sent His Son to die for us is that He loves us. So although facing the reality about ourselves is painful, hearing the reality of God's love for us in Jesus Christ is a huge blessing.

The reality is that we can truly "rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation." (Romans 5:11)

Pastoral Commentary for Romans 5
Author: Pastor Josh

"Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned." (vs. 12)

"The blame game", have you played it?
Around our house, it has gone something like this... "I don't want to pick those toys up. Luke is the one who made the mess." Or "The Lab ate the baby diapers because you left the trash can where he could get to it." Or "I barely made it to school today because you drove the car on empty all day yesterday without stopping for gas."

"The blame game", it reminds me of our reading today.
Have you ever heard this statement, "Why did God allow that person to die?" In many conversations, and our own private thoughts, God gets blamed for death.

As verse 12 states, God is not the one to blame for death - we are. To go even farther, when it comes to death the devil can get the blame, for he was the one to tempt Adam and Eve in the first place. Because of this rebellion against God's command "to not eat" from one particular tree, God's people went from a sinless perfect creation, to becoming tainted with sin at our very nature.
The result: "death comes to all people, because all sin".

If God can't be blamed for death, what can we hold him responsible for? Simply this: the solution.

God is responsible fixing what we broke. He has given an answer for sin and death and the power of the devil. God the Father sent Jesus Christ to pave a way back to peace, providing forgiveness for all sin, while offering the promise of life eternal for all who place their trust in Him.

Verse 17 says:
17For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

"God's abundant provision of grace", moves us beyond death to "reign in life" through Jesus Christ. Today...before blame gets placed, make sure the responsibility for the action committed gets directed in the proper direction. Often this might mean taking a harder look at ourselves (see: Matthew 7:1-5).

Providing a solution for our sin, know that God can carry the responsibility of helping to find a solution to anything being faced today.

Pastoral Commentary for Romans 5
Author: Pastor Zach

In 1992, one of the most memorable series of television commercials of all time hit the airwaves. These commercials featured children singing, playing, smiling, and drinking a well-known sports drink, all the while gazing with awe and wonder at a six foot six giant of a man who wore a jersey with the number twenty three emblazoned on it: Michael Jordan. The song that these children sang to this prince of basketball was simple, yet catchy: "I want to be like Mike." And the tag of the commercial was unapologetically straightforward: "Be like Mike. Drink Gatorade."

Growing up, we all have people we want to "be like." And in many ways, this is perfectly healthy and normal. For we all need mentors who inspire our hearts and motivate us to reach new heights. However, sometimes the drive to be like someone can turn dangerous and sinister. Take, for instance, history's first sin. Satan comes to Adam and Eve with this allurement: "When you eat of the fruit of this tree, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing the difference between good and evil" (Genesis 3:5). Satan asks, "You want to be like God? Don't drink Gatorade; instead, eat this fruit in spite of God's prohibition" (cf. Genesis 2:17). So Adam and Eve eat of the forbidden fruit. And sin comes into the world.

Although we are perfectly free to try to "be like" many people, the one person we are not free to try to "be like" is God. Yes, we are called to imitate God's moral character, but we are strictly prohibited from seeking to usurp God's authority or claim for ourselves his essence and nature. For God is utterly unique. No mortal is like him. As the Psalmist rhetorically asks: "Who is like the LORD our God, enthroned on high" (Psalm 113:5)? The understood answer, of course, is "no one." No one can "be like" the Lord.

In our reading for today from Romans 5, Paul revisits and reminds us of the devastating effects wreaked by those who would try to be like God: "Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned" (verse 12). Paul says that it is not just Adam who sinned and tried to be like God, rather, we all have sinned and tried to be like God. How have we done this? Whenever we have broken God's ways to go our own ways, for then we assume that we know better than God. Whenever we have belligerently sought to control our own destiny rather than leaving our destiny in the Divine's hands, for then we assume that we assume that our power over the future is greater than God's. Any time we try to usurp God's authority, we try to be like God. Indeed, we are trying to be beyond God, more powerful and wise than he, which, of course, is utter silliness and lunacy.

It is into the context of this supercilious desire to be beyond God that Paul writes, "Adam was a pattern of the one to come" (verse 14). The "one to come," of course, is Jesus Christ. Thus, for people who would try to be like God, God decides that he will take on human flesh and be like us. This is why Paul calls Adam a "pattern." God looks at Adam, and all of us sinful, broken people, and uses us as a "pattern" for his work in Christ. It is in Christ that God decides to be like us. As Paul writes elsewhere, "Christ was found in appearance as a man" (Philippians 2:8).

Unlike us, however, God does not decide that he will be like us out of his own selfish ambition or so that he can control or condemn us; instead, he decides that he will be like us so that he can love and save us. Paul says as much when he writes, "God's grace... came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ" (verse 15).

Thus, the call of Romans 5 is to stop trying to be like God and start being ourselves: creatures so precious in God's sight that even God himself would be like us so that he can save us. And who would want to be anything else but that?

Read Today's Scripture and Commentary on the Concordia website.

2020-06-05 07:32:56