The book of Romans impulsed Martin Luther to reform the church. John Wesley was reading Luther’s commentary on Romans when his heart was “strangely warmed.” In today’s reading, Paul struggles with the perennial conundrum—how Jesus, executed as a failure, can redeem the world. In it we find at least twelve analogies. Which are helpful for you?
In law, one must pay the penalty for crime, in our case the death penalty. Jesus paid it. Case dismissed.
In sacrifice, we are to offer our best to God. The “sacrificial lamb” is our best.
We are unable to act as we want, so Christ sends the Holy Spirit to refashion our souls into God’s temple, enabling us to will and to do.
Our primal craving is to be loved, and no greater love is there than a God who suffers and dies for us.
The character of God is revealed in the actions of Jesus.
In banking terms, we are born with a deficit account. Jesus cancels our debt.
It is helpful to know someone who knows someone. Jesus knows the One.
As in the Old Testament Passover, Jesus’ death is the passover lamb for us.
Predestination means that our reconciliation is a gift and not an achievement.
God is not the cause of suffering but the “fellow sufferer” with us.
Willingness to give oneself for another exemplifies the heart of God’s marriage vows with us.
Adoptions are expensive. Jesus paid for ours.
Today we honor a woman named Veronica, who risked her life by wiping Jesus’ face. His imprint marked her veil. Lord, compassion marks your image on my soul. Amen.
Even great people in the faith have moments of imperfection. Not all biblical stories are biblical examples. Jacob should have fed his brother out of concern, but he takes advantage of the situation and robs Esau of his birthright. The psalmist asks the Lord to show him how to live. God’s word is a lamp to his feet and a light to his path. Paul in Romans contrasts the life of the flesh and the life in the Spirit. Without the power of God, we are doomed to repeat our mistakes in the flesh; but the Spirit sets us free. Jesus reminds us in Matthew that the effectiveness of the gospel is not based on our efforts. We sow the seed, but we cannot control whether it takes root.
Read Genesis 25:19-34. How do you experience God’s “nevertheless”—God’s grace—as you work through the baggage of your birthright?
Read Isaiah 55:10-13. How might experiencing moments as if for the last time bring the joy of a first-time experience?
Read Romans 8:1-11. In learning what spiritual practices strengthen you, what practices did you try that did not work? Now that you know what works, how might working on practices you once found unhelpful grow your faith?
Read Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23. In what unexpected place might you sow seeds of God’s love?
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