Text: Romans 1:1-7
Fourth Sunday in Advent, Series C
Listen to the sermon here.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
We live in a world that’s filled with bad news. We are bombarded daily with stories about war, inflation, crime, pollution, injustice, drug abuse, oppression, and so much more. And there’s a reason for that. There is so much bad news in this world because our world is caught in the grip of the power of sin. Sinful behavior always results in bad news. It might be a good change of pace to get some good news for a change. Would you like some good news this morning? St. Paul the Apostle has some good news for us this morning. This good news was promised long ago. It is news about Jesus of Nazareth. And it is news for you.
I. … Promised Long Ago
The good news was promised long ago. Paul says it was “promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures” (Ro 1:2). The good news is not new. The whole world is out of kilter. Things are not the way they should be. God had the plan to set everything right again from the beginning. Throughout history, he has been preparing and promising. God makes known his plan and promises through the prophets. These prophets wrote everything down in the Scriptures.
Why are they called the Holy Scriptures? Because God promised in the Scriptures. God is speaking in the Scriptures. That is what makes them holy. God spoke through the prophets in the very words of the Scriptures. God’s promises were unfolded and preserved for us in these sacred writings. Let’s take Isaiah as an example. Before 1947, our oldest copy of Isaiah was from about 1000 AD. When the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, they found a copy of Isaiah from 100 BC. When scholars compared the two, it was word-for-word the same except for a few slips of the pen. Through prophets like Isaiah, God made promises many centuries in advance and preserved them in writing.
What is the content of the good news foretold by these prophets? The prophets connected their good news with Israel’s restoration and the coming of the promised king, a messiah. So much of the Messiah was revealed in the Prophets. Who would his mother be? A virgin. Of what royal house was he to be from? Of David. Where would he be born? Bethlehem. How would he die? The cross—piercing the hands, feet, and side without breaking his bones. Where? At Jerusalem, outside the city. What would his death accomplish? He would die for our sins. Well, centuries went by, and the Jews began to wonder if the Messiah would ever come. Paul is saying that God has finally acted, and the ancient promises are fulfilled.
II. … About Jesus
This good news that God promised long ago is about his Son. He “was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord” (Ro 1:3–4).
Take a look at how Paul has ordered his description of Jesus. It is almost like the old game “Twenty Questions,” where a person has to guess who the other person is thinking about by learning different facts about them. Paul uses many descriptions to refer to Jesus before using His proper name – God’s Son, descended from David, resurrected from the dead, our Lord. Paul’s not just building a little suspense but wants to be sure that you think about Jesus in a particular way. Martin Luther wrote: “The gospel is a story about Christ, God’s and David’s Son, who died and was raised and is established as Lord. This is the gospel in a nutshell.”
Jesus is God’s Son. That means he is really and truly God, begotten of his Father from all eternity. He is also descended from David. That means he was born. All the promises of the Old Testament depended on the coming of the Messiah — the Anointed King. This king would come from the royal line of David. He would conquer the enemies of God’s people and bring righteousness and peace forever. He took on human nature to fulfil those promises through the prophets. A man did not become God. God became a man.
What proof is offered? How do we know that he was the Son of God? Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is a public declaration that he really and truly was God’s Son and that all his claims are true. Here is God’s proof, offered to you: because the tomb of Jesus remains empty to this day, all his claims are true. He is God’s promised King and your Lord.
III. … For You
Finally, this is good news for you. This good news will “bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ” (Ro 1:5–6). This good news is about how you can mend your broken relationship with God. This Jesus Christ didn’t remain a baby in a manger but grew up to be the world’s Savior. The Son of God became a man to offer himself in your place. You are the under the power of sin, death, and the devil. Yet, Jesus came to die for you. He came to purchase and redeem you from Satan, sin, and death by shedding his blood. Because of his death, you are offered God’s grace and peace. The complete forgiveness of your sins. Your broken relationship with God is mended because of the death of Jesus. You have been bought with a price.
He is not only Israel’s King and Savior but also the Redeemer and Lord of the entire world. You owe your allegiance to the world’s rightful king. God now calls you to faith and allegiance through preaching the good news, the gospel. You are called to belong to Jesus; God loves you; You are called to be saints. You have been set apart from the fallen world, set apart for God as his people. God, in His love, has called you to be His own and serve Him. God did not call you because you were holy, but your holiness is the result of His call.
This is what you learned in Catechism class: “I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, that I may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.”
Amid a world of bad news, St. Paul offers us good news. God promised this good news long ago through the prophets in the Holy Scriptures. The good news is about Jesus, God’s Son, descended from David, raised from the Dead, and our Lord. He offers you grace, peace, and life everlasting through Christ’s shed blood. That is good news. Put your faith and allegiance in him. He won’t disappoint you.
May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.