Summary: March 3, 2002 -- THIRD SUNDAY IN LENT Exodus 17:1-7 Psalm 95 Let us shout for joy to the rock of our salvation. (Ps. 95:1) Romans 5:1-11 John 4:5-42 Title: “We are not just forgiven; we are changed.”
March 3, 2002 -- THIRD SUNDAY IN LENT
Let us shout for joy to the rock of our salvation. (Ps. 95:1)
Title: “We are not just forgiven; we are changed.”
Verses one to eleven, further develop Paul’s doctrine of justification. Paul has been making the case in both theological and legal terms, and rather technical terms at that. Now, he puts the same ideas into warmer, more relational language. Having laid out the scriptural basis for those saved by faith in Christ being “justified,” or “acquitted,” before the judgment seat of God, he now tells his readers what that means for the period before the final judgment, the here and now. The past is wiped out; the future is yet to be fully present; the present- with its trials, sufferings, temptations- is assisted by the indwelling resident Holy Spirit, ensuring fidelity to the end, living a life befitting an acquitted person and friend of God.
In verse one, justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Justification is the means, the process, and peace is the end, the result. Peace, wholeness, integrity, completeness, is an experience based on one’s new but objective status of friendship restored, amnesty declared. Reconciliation replaces estrangement and the ensuing experience of peace is to be enjoyed, exploited even.
In verse two, through whom we have gained access: All of this was accomplished by the only one who could accomplish it, namely, Jesus Christ. Paul uses language appropriate to the throne room of a king. No one has access to the king, God. Worse, because of what humans have done, the door is forever shut. Or was, until Christ.
We boast: A person who has unlimited access to a king or president or anyone important will naturally boast about it. The Christian is no exception. He or she has instant access to God, but with one qualification. The Christian does not say, “I am good friends with God.” Even though it amounts to the same thing, the Christian says, “I am good friends with God’s Son. He patched things up with God for me and now I can enter his presence as a friend of Jesus. I can always tag along with Jesus. So long as, I am with Jesus I get in any time.”
In hope of the glory of God: So long as, a Christian exists in a mortal body, this remains a hope, but a sure hope. It is not fully realized, but realized enough that the Christian benefits already, while still in the body, from Christ’s presence in and with and to the Father. In so far as, he has “returned,” to his rightful place, seated at God’s right hand, and in so far as Christians are in him and he in them, Christians have arrived as well, even though the process is not completed for them as it is for Christ. The full glory of God, seen by Christ, indeed, Christ himself, is still an incomplete experience for Christians, a hope.
In verses three and four, it is because of reliance on God, hope, that suffering can produce endurance, the ability to continue in the right against and in spite of all odds, which produces character, the power to resist evil because tried in the hot furnace and found worthy. Baptism marks the beginning of a life-long process, but the beginning contains the end, like a seed “contains,” the plant.
In verse five, hope does not disappoint: This is not a hope based on wishful thinking or imagination, but fact, the fact of God’s love. This love was not only seen as one looks on the cross, the proven character of God’s love, but is experienced in the pouring of the Holy Spirit onto and into the hearts of believers in Baptism and Confirmation. Watering is often used as a metaphor for spiritual refreshment and encouragement. In another sense the Spirit is the down payment, first installment, guarantee of the final, full experience of eternal fullness.
In verse six, Christ…died…for the ungodly: Humans were not just undeserving, they were downright contrary, actively resistant to the overtures of God for reconciliation. The grace of God was not just undeserved it was even rejected time and again by humans. This rejection of God’s grace went beyond even a specific act of free-will rejection. The situation had become so bad that humans were powerless over evil and sin. They had pawned their free will, left it in the keeping of Satan, retained technical ownership of it but signed its use over to the devil. Humans could not have become more “ungodly.” The one thing God would never take away from humans, their free will, is the first thing humans will hock in order to get what they erroneously think they need, but merely stubbornly and childishly want. The cumulative effect of such actions has gotten humanity, individually and collectively, into a mess it cannot get out of on its own power, individually or collectively. Only Christ can do that and he has done it.