SCRIPTURE FOR THIS SUNDAY: Romans 5: 12-19

                                                                                                                             (I’ll be using The Message (MSG) paraphrase.)

The Death-Dealing Sin, the Life-Giving Gift

12-14 You know the story of how Adam landed us in the dilemma we’re in—first sin, then death, and no one exempt from either sin or death. That sin disturbed relations with God in everything and everyone, but the extent of the disturbance was not clear until God spelled it out in detail to Moses. So, death, this huge abyss separating us from God, dominated the landscape from Adam to Moses. Even those who didn’t sin precisely as Adam did by disobeying a specific command of God still had to experience this termination of life, this separation from God. But Adam, who got us into this, also points ahead to the One who will get us out of it.

15-17 Yet the rescuing gift is not exactly parallel to the death-dealing sin. If one man’s sin put crowds of people at the dead-end abyss of separation from God, just think what God’s gift poured through one man, Jesus Christ, will do! There’s no comparison between that death-dealing sin and this generous, life-giving gift. The verdict on that one sin was the death sentence; the verdict on the many sins that followed was this wonderful life sentence. If death got the upper hand through one man’s wrongdoing, can you imagine the breathtaking recovery life makes, absolute life, in those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life-gift, this grand setting-everything-right, that the one-man Jesus Christ provides?

18-19 Here it is in a nutshell: Just as one person did it wrong and got us in all this trouble with sin and death, another person did it right and got us out of it. But more than just getting us out of trouble, he got us into life! One man said no to God and put many people in the wrong; one man said yes to God and put many in the right.

Pastor Bob’s Reflections:

It’s about time we received some spiritual direction from the Apostle Paul. He is just the right person to explain this spiritual life that Jesus calls us to.

Before he was known as Paul, he was called Saul. Saul’s first prominent role in “religion” was as a firm and rigid Jewish Pharisee with the number one goal in life became to exterminate the newly forming Jesus movement. And apparently he was good at what he did. We can read of his success in the Bible, particularly in the Book of Acts as Saul is the Pharisee overseeing the public stoning of Stephen. After the death of Stephen by stoning, Saul ramped up his desire to track down and persecute Jesus followers anywhere and anyhow. So, he was sent off to Damascus to round up more Jesus followers there.

But on his way to Damascus, Saul met Jesus. First-hand. And I encourage you to read about this in Acts – Chapter 9. This is when Saul had his own spiritual conversion. Because of his encounter with Jesus, Saul had become blind, and very confused. Now I think that’s important to point out. Jesus didn’t come to Saul and magically transform him into one of the good guys in a flash. First, Saul had to come to terms with himself.

For example, Saul never realized how blind he was. In fact, he was so hyper sure that he was right about all things related to God that there was really no need for conversation about that. Except … when he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. And that moment changed everything for this religious zealot and terrorist named Saul.

Well, there’s a lot more to this great conversion story, and I encourage you to look it up and read it. And then, think about your own spiritual journey. Whose heart are you following? Saul was sure he was following God’s will as he proclaimed death to the Jesus movement. And yet, he was about as far away from God’s will as one could get.

After his encounter with Jesus, Saul went blind and was led to Damascus where he did not persecute the Jesus followers. Rather, he became a new creation … a new person … through his encounter with the real risen Christ. His name became Paul, and within days the scales that made him blind fell away and he was baptized and began his new life. Wow!

So that’s why Paul’s writings are so instructive for us today. He answers many questions about the new spiritual life that Jesus gave to him, and our text above is just one little example. In it, Paul tells us that Jesus has come to us as the “perfect Adam.” Jesus not only offers us a new path to God and freedom and salvation, but Jesus is God himself, something Adam never was.

Paul’s bottom-line: We no longer have the burden of carrying Adam’s sin on our soul. Now, today, Jesus relieves us of that burden and through his own sinless life, offers us a “Way” to become whole again with God. Friends, that’s an opportunity you do not want to miss. Just ask Saul!

Come by the Ash Wednesday Chapel today between 4pm and 6pm and get started on your own road to Damascus. Trust me. Or don’t. Trust Paul. Or don’t. Trust God. For God will never let you down, and will always embrace you as one of God’s own … and offer you too a new way of life.

Let’s Journey to the Cross Together … Starting Today … Pastor Bob <><