Let us pray: Dear Savior, by changing human hearts You change human lives. By changing us from sinners to saints from enemies to blood-brothers You have opened up heaven for us while also making our earthly existence an opportunity to live out praise. All of this is possible because You died and then rose again for us. Lord, may we never take that blessing for granted, or grow tired of it. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, OUR LOVING LORD AND SAVIOR!
TEXT: Romans 5: 6-11
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Some of our fathers, our grandfathers, some of you fought for liberty and your country in WWII. And today we thank both you and the rest of those heroes for their sacrifice. All of us have heard stories of tremendous heroism that occur in the heat of battle. Probably the most selfless example of such heroism are those stories of men who jumped unto a grenade in order to save their buddies. They died, they gave their lives out of love and respect, for their comrades. “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.”
But did you ever hear a story about the soldier who jumped on the grenade to save the enemy soldiers from certain death? It would never happen would it? Why? Because in war you don’t die to save your enemy. You die to defeat them. Let’s put it into Biblical terms. Do you think any one of those rough, hard-bitten, vulgar Roman soldiers would have begged to trade places with Christ as they cast lots for His clothing? None of them leaped on the “grenade” of the cross to save Jesus. Yet, Jesus, the Son of God, willingly leaped on the “grenade” of the cross to save them and the rest of us—who are, or rather were, His enemies! “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly…But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Talk about self-sacrifice! Talk about doing the impossible! Talk about love….
Let’s put this in modern terms. Today Israel and the Palestinians are at war with each other. Hardly a week goes by in which the Palestinians don’t send a suicide bomber to blow up innocent people and children, and hardly a week goes by that the Israelite soldiers don’t bomb a few terrorist hotbeds such as that camp in Jenin. Both sides hate each other. Both would do almost anything to insure the other side’s defeat. So, do you expect one of those brain-washed, hate-filled suicide bombers to suddenly announce in the market-place they have chosen: “I have a bomb, please leave and save yourself before it goes off because I love you?” Would you expect Yassar Arafat to take his helicopter to the scene of the next bombing, run up to that suicide bomber, and then smother the blast with his body to save his enemy, the Israeli people? It won’t happen, will it? And yet, that’s what God, our God, the Triune God—not Allah, or some other idol, did to save us. God the Father sent Christ to die to save us. And Christ willingly agreed to sacrifice Himself in our place. Love, pure love, was the motivating force.
In our hate-filled world it seems that everyone is searching for peace. Soldiers seek to achieve peace through the power of a gun or a bomb. The politicians seek to achieve peace by talking the issue to death. In both cases power and coercion are the tools used. All of human history shows us that such an imposed peace keeps the lid on human hate—at least for a while. But eventually the “losers” in such warfare, who have stewed in their own hateful juices and who chafe under the “winners” thumb, those losers try to break that peace and lash out at their enemies. That’s why humans will always cry: “Peace! Peace!” But there is no peace.
The word “reconciliation” is a beautiful word. It literally means “coming together.” Enemies don’t “come together” unless and until they have a total change of heart, a heart transplant if you will. And that’s what occurred on the cross. God, the Ultimate Super Power, made peace with us through the death of Christ. God, Who had nothing to gain but the death of His Son, transplanted His pure and holy heart in His enemies through faith. His act of selfless love, His sacrifice for us, created peace between God and mankind. And in this peace He did all the giving and we do all the receiving. “Since we have now been justified (declared righteous and holy before God) by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”
“Peace! Peace!” But There Is No Peace—Apart From Christ! That’s the message of Christianity. That’s God’s message to this warmongering world. To be sure, through faith we possess such inner peace. After all, God has given us both the peace and the means to grasp hold of it—faith. However, since the rest of the world doesn’t have it and doesn’t want it, we’re caught in their crossfire, aren’t we? Should we break down in fear over this? Should we discount God’s peace as nothing more than spiritual words which have no real power? No! Don’t forget that little word “reconciliation.” The picture it conveys is of our heavenly Father wrapping His almighty arms around us to protect us. Think back to when you were a little child and you were very scared. When dad wrapped his arms around you, you felt safe and secure. So it is with our heavenly Father, too. But unlike our earthly dads, God never lets go of us. He never drops us. He never leaves us. And He’ll never die. He’s holding us close to His chest and within that protective bubble He allows us to grow as people and to live our lives for His glory. He allows us to touch those around us and to spread His truth that “sacrificial love makes life worth living.”
On this Father’s Day let us all thank Him first for His gift of eternal peace. Let us rejoice that we have been singled out to receive this priceless blessing. And let us cling to Him in thankful love. Yes, “we love Him because He first loved us.” Amen