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Sacrifice

Adam and Eve are tempted

Paul continues developing his thoughts on justification by grace through faith in today’s Bible reading. He says, “So then, as through one trespass there is condemnation for everyone, so also through one righteous act there is justification leading to life for everyone.” Romans 5:18 (CSB)

Each of us is responsible for our own sin, yet each of us inherited a fallen condition from our first parents (specifically the First Man, Adam) because of one act of disobedience: eating the fruit from the one tree that God had warned against eating.

But that wasn’t the end of the story! Another Man, also called “the Second Adam”, brought righteousness through His one act: sacrificial atoning death on the cross. And in His death and resurrection, He reconciled the broken relationship between God and His people, whom He relentlessly pursues through covenant throughout the rest of the Bible.

As much as sin, death, and judgment followed the one act of Adam’s disobedience, how much more did the one act of Jesus’ obedience bring life, righteousness, and forgiveness. In fact, Paul uses this phrase how much more four times in this one chapter. And counting his final parting shot, “where sin multiplied, grace multiplied even more.” Romans 5:20 (CSB), Paul drives home his point a fifth time!

Application

There is no sin you have ever committed — or ever will — that will ever be so massive, so horrendous, that God’s grace cannot overcome. If you’ve ever felt that you’ve blown it and that you’ve done something God can never forgive, rest assured, you aren’t that powerful! You aren’t that bad. You haven’t surprised God. God’s plan to redeem Adam’s descendants didn’t arrive as Plan B. God planned redemption from before He spoke, “Let there be light.”

Wherever there is sin, there is even more grace. God’s grace is free for the taking from an unconditionally loving, reconciling God.

I love how Eugene Peterson translated Romans 5:20-21 in The Message Translation:

Sin didn’t, and doesn’t, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it’s sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that’s the end of it. Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the Messiah, invites us into life—a life that goes on and on and on, world without end.

That’s good news! That’s the Gospel!

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source: LumoProject

In today’s Bible reading from Matthew 27, we see Jesus’ last moments as He dies on a cross just outside Jerusalem. He cries out with a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:46)

Billy Foote’s song You are My King (Amazing Love) begins, “I’m forgiven because You were forsaken. I’m accepted. You were condemned.”

As I am typing this and considering the verse, Billy’s description, and the picture, tears are welling up in my eyes. Jesus voluntarily became God’s sacrificial lamb, dying on the cross and taking the wrath of God head-on, becoming the atoning sacrifice for sin that wasn’t His — it was mine and it was yours — all to bridge the chasm between our Holy Creator and us, the fallen creation.

His death accomplished what our feeble attempt at obedience to the Law wasn’t able to — and wasn’t designed to do: give God’s people eternal forgiveness and eternal life. His death reestablished a relationship between God and His people, a relationship that had been severed a long time ago in a garden (Eden). And Jesus’ battle in another garden (Gethsemane) secured the victory over sin, a victory that God’s people experience vicariously.

Application

Jesus was abandoned. Jesus was condemned. Jesus died. He endured all of these things so that you wouldn’t have to. Believer, your sin-debt has been paid. You have been adopted and you will never be abandoned by your Father. Because Jesus died and rose from the dead, power and desire to walk a life that pleases God is available to you.

Spend a few minutes worshiping God. Spend a few minutes expressing your gratitude for the incredibly selfless act that Jesus accomplished for you “on a hill far away”.

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In today’s Bible reading, we come across a word that Matthew has only used one other time previously: parable. Those of us who have been around church for very long have heard about parables. But have you thought about why Jesus used parables? And that begs the question, “What is a parable?”

A parable is an extended metaphor. It’s a story with a deeper meaning. “Parable” literally means something that’s thrown alongside. You could say that a parable is an “object lesson” or a “word picture”. Many times as Jesus came across something in life, He’d tell a story about it with a practical application to the Kingdom of God. (On a side note, it’s very interesting that Jesus is the only person in the entire New Testament who used parables.)

I remember early in my ministry, children would hand run up to our Children’s Pastor and give him an object, a toy, or something they found. He would talk about that object and spin it into a gospel message. He was a master storyteller!

Not everyone who heard a parable understood what Jesus was trying to convey. Yes, He meant to do that. Many people (most people?) just thought Jesus was telling stories. Matthew 13:11 tells us two of the reasons that Jesus used these parables: to reveal things about the Kingdom of God and to conceal things about the Kingdom of God. Matthew adds a third reason in Matthew 13:34-35 – to fulfill prophecy.

One day Jesus and His disciples may have strolled through the market when they spotted a well-dressed man arguing with a common merchant about a collection of pearls at his table. Jesus may have used that occasion to tell His disciples about the “Priceless Pearl”. (Matthew 13:44–46)

A “regular Joe” may not care much about pearls, but a collector does. A pearl collector would recognize a unique, priceless pearl in a tray of pearls. And when he finds “the one”, a wise pearl collector would give everything he has to buy it. That pearl may look like every other pearl in a tray, but to a discerning eye, that pearl would stand out from all the rest.

To a common bystander, a kingdom is a kingdom. But to a disciple of Jesus Christ (then and now), the Kingdom of God isn’t a common kingdom among lots of other kingdoms. The Kingdom of God is a priceless pearl of a Kingdom. And for anyone with a discerning eye, the Kingdom of God is worth selling everything you have in order to get it.

Application

Do you have a discerning eye? Do you recognize the Kingdom of God when you see it? It doesn’t look like any other kingdom. And yet, it doesn’t even look like what most people would expect it would look like. And look at the King: most people didn’t recognize Jesus as the King. Neither did is disciples!

A few chapters ago (Chapter 6), Jesus told His disciples to have His Kingdom at the front of their minds. He told them to prioritize His Kingdom and His righteousness above everything else. To do that takes a lot of focus. And it requires putting a lot of other things out of focus.

The Kingdom of God is worth more than anything else you could ever conceive of.
Ask God to give you eyes to see its worth today.

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Jesus Christ is risen from the dead!
He has conquered sin and death!
He has made a way for us to be made right with a Holy God.

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