Lent 3 – Kindness – Rachel Pengelly

Romans 5:11 and John 4:5-42

May the words of my mouth and meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight Amen.

When I went to Secondary school, I was aware of a Latin phrase above the door to the entrance of the school, lots of places and buildings have them. I was aware of it but had no idea what it meant and still to this day I have no idea what it means! A strap line perhaps or some kind of moral guidance that I never tried to investigate. In the Romans passage there is a similar type of phrase. We are ‘justified by faith’.

What does that mean? It sounds very nice, doesn’t it? We are justified by faith and we have peace with God through our lord Jesus Christ.

This motto is central to truth and to our salvation. It is often misunderstood but it is so important to us as Christians.

What is justification? in theology it says ‘the action of declaring or making righteous in the sight of God. We have an echo of Isaiah, in this passage Isaiah says in 27: v5.

“Let them lay claim to My protection; let them make peace with Me–yes, let them make peace with Me.” (NIV)

This goes some way to helping us to understand the meaning of Gods’ protection towards us. Isn’t that wonderful! We are justified and protected by God.

What do we need justification from? One commentary suggests that.

‘One man’s actions started men and women into the path of sin that was Adam back in Genesis. Paul contrasts Adams sinful act with Christ’s redemptive work’ (Enduring word bible commentary 2022)

We have made choices contrary to what God wants for us damaging our relationships with God and others. In our prayers of preparation, we ask God to cleanse the thoughts of our hearts. We bring to mind doing those things we ought not to have done, asking God to wash them clean. Becoming a child of God through Christ.

 In the passage, Paul was writing to Jews and gentiles, and is pastoral in nature, he was writing to real churches with people with real problems like us today.

 We all need justification by God because we are all under the influence of sin. Protestant theologian John Calvin said, ‘justification is through grace alone, through faith alone’. There are no other ways to achieve justification. According to Calvin.

 Justification is like a not guilty verdict from God. A freedom to lead a Christian life. The penalty, fine or sentence is paid. Through Jesus’ suffering on the cross that was enough to justify all that believe in him. Jesus came to save us, not in our sins but from our sins.  We are vindicated through the love, kindness, and the Grace of God. It’s like a parent paying the fines of a child so they do not have to go to prison. A person taking the blame for someone else’s actions. Christ is our substitute. We are justified by faith in Christ. Jesus says that rarely anyone will die for a righteous person.  Paul tells us. ‘Christ proves his love for us, that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.’ How wonderful is that!!

But we must be willing to receive this justification, how do we do that?

We are justified by faith. This is the starting point, to growth and transformation. A real genuine faith in God a faith in his son Jesus Christ and faith in the Holy spirit left with us. As the passage says our suffering produces endurance, that produces character and character produces hope. ‘A chain of maturity I think one virtue builds upon another as we grow in the pattern of Jesus’.  (Enduring word bible commentary 2022)

There are no demands on us, no time scales.  God just wants our faithfulness. This path towards this can be joyful but also tricky with its ups and downs. But in our troubles, we grow. God’s grace and work through us weaves a strong basket that will hold and sustain good fruit.  One of those fruits is forgiveness. Jesus taught us to forgive others as God forgives us. But there is another, that forgiveness can be hard to grant. The hardest type of forgiveness is towards ourselves. But is necessary for reconciliation with God and others, and our personal flourishing and spiritual growth. This lent, shall we flourish in the forgiveness of Christ and the knowledge of our reconciliation with God? Think how liberating that will be!

 We have the knowledge as followers of Jesus, that we will see God face to face, God does not look upon us as sinners, but in his kindness, as righteous people we have been reconciled and saved through the life and death of Christ. Our  starting point is receiving God’s grace, righteousness is our end. We have been ‘made fit’ or made ready to see God. When we put our faith in Christ we can bring our sins to him, and be sorry for them, through our prayers and hand them to God.

So, ‘Paul is saying that we have gained entrance to the most wonderful place possible- we have gained entrance to Gods domain. And we have done this not because we are worthy of it, not because we have forced our way in, but because Jesus Christ has made it possible for us. Jesus is the door to where we enter, and what we enter is a place of grace’ (Jervis, 2020)

Our hearts are changed through God’s grace, which is undeserved and freely given, and we are transformed by that grace ‘a blissful and serene state which a sense of justification can bring’. (Bible hub, Romans 5)

Gods saving love is offered freely to us. All we have to do is receive it!! We may boast or another translation ‘rejoice’ in God’s love. So, what do we do with this gracious gift of the spirit?  Do we keep it to ourselves?  Lock it away in our hearts? or do we share it and spread the news of Gods kindness to us? We use this gift to be kind to others and share the good news of Jesus in our lives. If we receive it openly and joyfully with an open heart, here we will all surely receive Gods free justification. So, this lent let us remember that we are justified by God through Christ.  Through his life, death, and resurrection we are justified by faith.

Bibliography

Enduring word bible commentary Romans chapter 5 (2022) Enduring Word. Available at: https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/romans-5/ (Accessed: February 6, 2023).

Enduring word bible commentary Romans chapter 5 (2022) Enduring Word. Available at: https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/romans-5/ (Accessed: February 6, 2023).

Jervis, L.A. (2020) Commentary on romans 5:1-11, Working Preacher from Luther Seminary. Available at: https://www.workingpreacher.org/commentaries/revised-common-lectionary/third-sunday-in-lent/commentary-on-romans-51-11-5 (Accessed: February 6, 2023).

Romans 5 (no date) Romans 5:1 commentaries: Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with god through our lord jesus christ. Available at: https://biblehub.com/commentaries/romans/5-1.htm (Accessed: February 6, 2023).

New International Version of the Bible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *