Text: Romans 5:1-11
Third Sunday in Lent
Listen to the Sermon here.
In the name of Jesus. Amen.
The human story is one of war and conflict, endless struggle and strife. From the earliest days of recorded history, we have fought and bled and died for causes great and small. We have seen empires’ rise and fall and the birth and death of countless civilizations. And yet, for all our striving and struggling and our triumphs and tragedies, there remains a deeper conflict, a battle that lies at the very heart of our existence.
This is the war that we wage against God. From the beginning of time, we have rebelled against His authority, spurning His love and rejecting His grace. We have turned away from His commandments and followed after our own desires, seeking to make ourselves the masters of our own destinies. And in doing so, we have brought the wrath of a just and holy God upon ourselves.
But amid our rebellion and defiance, something remarkable has happened. This morning we’re going to explore that. We’ll see first our need for reconciliation. Second, God’s act of reconciliation. Third, the hope of reconciliation.
Our Need For Reconciliation
In his letter to the Romans, St. Paul details our need for reconciliation. It paints a bleak picture of our condition and relationship with the Creator God. He notes four things: we’re weak, we’re sinners, we’re ungodly, and we’re enemies.
First, notice what Paul says in verse 6. “For while we were still weak…” (Ro 5:6). There is a sickness that afflicts humanity to the core, a spiritual sickness that leaves us helpless and debilitated. We are unable to find the cure we so desperately need. It is a condition similar to that of a patient who denies their illness and lashes out at the doctor trying to heal them. We often turn a blind eye to our own spiritual decay, denying our need for salvation and rejecting the very One who can provide it.
But Paul does not stop there; he says in verse 8, “while we were still sinners” (Ro 5:8). We are sinners, and that means we have committed heinous crimes against God’s law. We are like thieves, robbing God of the love and respect that He deserves. We prefer to worship false gods, like money, entertainment, and sex, instead of the living God. We reject His commandments and indulge in our own selfish desires, heedless of the consequences. In our hearts, we despise God and all that He stands for.
Moreover, Paul points out that humanity is ungodly. “Christ died for the ungodly” (Ro 5:6). We have no reverence for the things of God, no desire to learn about His word or to attend church. We turn a blind eye to the Divine Service, seeing it as nothing more than empty words and meaningless rituals. We have no respect for God’s gifts nor see any reason why we should. This apathy, this disdain for all that is holy, marks us as enemies of the divine.
Finally, Paul says in verse 10, “while we were enemies” (Ro 5:10). Humanity has become God’s enemies. This is not how God created us to be. We have rebelled against Him and hate everything He stands for. We have suppressed the truth and fought against it at every turn. But beware, there will be consequences for our rebellion. We have angered Him with our sins, and justice demands that we be punished for our crimes. The wrath of God hangs heavy over us, a dark cloud threatening to consume us all. We must fear His wrath and turn from our sinful ways if we hope to escape its terrible embrace. This is the bitter truth that we must confront, the stark reality of our own spiritual decay. It is a call to action, a plea to turn from our wickedness and seek redemption before it is too late.
God’s Act of Reconciliation
In the face of our bitter hatred towards God, it is truly remarkable that He has taken the first step towards reconciliation. “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Ro 5:6–8). We, the offending party, had no interest in peace, no desire to make amends. And yet, amid our rage and rebellion, God did the unthinkable. He became a man, taking on flesh and being born of a virgin, all so that He could suffer and die on our behalf.
This sacrifice is beyond comprehension, beyond anything we could ever hope to understand. Who among us would be willing to lay our lives for an enemy, for a hardened criminal who cared nothing for our well-being? And yet, that is precisely what Christ has done for us. He has taken on the weight of our sins, paying a debt that we could never hope to repay. Through His suffering and death on the cross, He has reconciled us to God, making peace where there was only enmity.
In the eyes of God, we are horrendous creatures deserving of nothing but wrath and punishment. And yet, in His infinite mercy, He has shown us a love that knows no bounds. A love that drove Him to give His only begotten Son, that whoever would believe in Him might have eternal life. We did nothing to earn this love, nothing to deserve the forgiveness and righteousness that Christ has won for us. And yet, it is freely given, a gift beyond all measure.
The sacrifice of Christ is the ultimate expression of God’s love for us. It is the restitution for our sins, the atonement we could never hope to achieve on our own. Through Christ, we have been granted forgiveness, righteousness, and the promise of eternal life. This is the astonishing truth we must embrace, the reality of a love that defies all understanding. It is a call to lay down our weapons, surrender our rebellious hearts, and embrace the peace that comes only from knowing Christ.
The Hope That Reconciliation Brings
Take heart, dear brothers and sisters, for in Christ’s death for you, you have found reconciliation with God. “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life” (Ro 5:9–10). Reconciliation with God is not a mere feeling but an objective reality. The war is over, and the hostilities have ceased. God is no longer angry at you. Through faith, we are acquitted and pronounced “Not Guilty” by God the Judge because Jesus has paid the price for our crimes. Our sins have been forgiven, and we are reconciled to God. We have been adopted as His children, and His Holy Spirit dwells in us. As we begin to love God and one another, we find delight in His commandments, and our peace with Him leads us to be at peace with one another.
Although this world may still rage against God, we need not fear. We are no longer enemies but have been reconciled to God through Christ’s bloody death on our behalf. We now have hope and confidence for the future. Christ has conquered the world, and on the last day, justice will be served to all, and we will be saved from God’s wrath. Jesus reminds us that we will face trials and persecutions in this world, but we can take courage, for He has conquered the world. We have the promise of victory and eternal life with God, for Christ has forgiven us and given us His Holy Spirit.
Therefore, trust that God will be with you and sustain you through whatever comes your way, whether it be suffering, sickness, mockery, or death. We need not fear, for Christ has paid our fine, and justice has been served. Take comfort in the knowledge that we are reconciled to God and adopted into His family, and we have the assurance of eternal life with Him.
In the name of Jesus. Amen.