Easter has arrived! What a joyous day of celebration. This week we'll hear Peter preach the good news about Jesus to a Roman soldier. Paul writes about the new life that we live in Christ because of his resurrection. Finally, we'll hear Matthew's account of Jesus' resurrection.
First Reading: Acts 10:34--43
Epistle Reading: Colossians 3:1--4
Gospel Reading: Matthew 28:1--10
In the name of Jesus our Savior, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church welcomes you to ‘Dial-a-Devotion’, this is Vicar Tom Schlund. Our text for today is from Romans 3:23-25 which reads:
“For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.”
Are you a Mizzou fan or a KU fan? A Royals fan or a Cardinals fan? A new resident of Concordia or part of a multi-generation family? Are you a democratic or a republican? We like to make distinctions in our lives based on numerous things. We make distinctions based on our culture; we make distinctions based on our economic status, on our sports allegiances. You name it; we probably will make a distinction based on it.
Why do we do this? Often times it is because we like to feel good about ourselves and at least equal to, if not superior than those around us. We put ourselves in groups and aspire to be in these groups and then feel good about ourselves because we’re not a part of all of those other groups that we consider to be inferior. Maybe you have heard a conversation like this: “Who do you cheer for?” “I’m a Mizzou fan” “Oh, good, at least you’re not a KU fan.” I’ve heard this one on numerous occasions. Fill in any of the categories you can think of and you’ll probably find someone having the same conversation.
Paul dealt with distinctions in his time too and we hear about them in our reading for today. He was writing to the church in Rome that was made up of both Jews and Roman citizens. The Jews believed that since they had the law and the heritage through Abraham that they had superior status in the churches. But Paul has something else to say about them and about all people. After building his case for three chapters he finally delivers a knockout punch to the idea that there are superior and inferior people before God. Our text today says “for there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” No distinction. How about that? We are all on the same playing field. Whether you are a Mizzou fan or a KU fan, rich or poor, Republican or Democrat, life time resident or brand new to the community, it doesn’t matter we are all sinners and have all fallen short of God’s law and of his glory.
Fortunately for us the story doesn’t stop there. Otherwise it would be pretty depressing. Paul goes on to say that we are justified by God’s grace as a gift through the redemption won by Christ Jesus on the cross. This is great news! No matter what groups you identify with, God sent his son to die on the cross for you. Jesus rose from the dead for you to win your salvation. Through baptism, God adopts us as his children and makes us heirs of eternal life. Heir of eternal life through Christ Jesus, now there’s a distinction worth having!
Let us pray:
Dear Father in Heaven, thank you for sending your son Jesus into the world. Help us to stop making distinctions in our lives in order to feel superior than others. Help us to show love to others as you have shown to us so that they may come to know the forgiveness and life that is found only through your free gift of grace. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen
In the name of Jesus our Savior, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church welcomes you to ‘Dial-a-Devotion’, this is Vicar Tom Schlund. Our text for today is from Psalm 85:1-7 which reads:
“Lord, you were favorable to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob. You forgave the iniquity of your people; you covered all their sin. You withdrew all your wrath; you turned from your hot anger Restore us again, O God of our salvation, and put away your indignation toward us! Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger to all generations? Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your steadfast love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation.”
How many times do you forgive someone who has done something wrong against you? If it is a family member who sins, it might be easier to forgive time and time again, but if it is a stranger or even an enemy who sins against you it is much more difficult to even consider forgiving them. Forgiving doesn’t come naturally for us, it has to be taught. It is much easier and more natural to hold a grudge and seek revenge. We want to get back at someone for how they have wronged us.
Imagine having a son or daughter who frequently disobeyed you and did the opposite of what you had instructed them to do. You may have experienced this or might be currently experiencing it with your own children. Your instructions that you gave them were for their own good and even though they occasionally appear strict, they were meant to keep them safe and happy. Could you forgive them every time that they sinned against you? Is there ever a point where you stopped forgiving them or would consider not forgiving them anymore?
This is the situation that we see taking place in the Old Testament and referenced in our Psalm for today. God has created the world and has chosen his people Israel. They are his sons and daughters and he gives them instructions on how they are to live in the world. These instructions are for their own good and yet they continually disobey them and turn away from their heavenly father. The Psalmist recalls how God forgave his people from these sins and implores him to continue doing that and not to be angry with them forever.
Now before we get too proud and think that the Israelites were ignorant because they continued to sin against God, we must remember that we too sin against God. Our sin makes us enemies with him, cut off from his love and salvation. But Paul tells us in Romans that God demonstrates his extreme love in this way, that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. God forgives all of our sins. He forgives us each time that we sin and he puts no limits on the amount of forgiveness that he’ll give to us. Now we can forgive others for their wrongs against us because we have been forgiven and loved so greatly by our heavenly Father.
Let us pray:
Dear Father in Heaven, thank you for loving us so much that you sent your Son Jesus into the world to die on the cross to forgive our sins. Help us to always remember this great gift of love and forgiveness that you have given to us so that we too can share it with others. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen
My name is Tom. I'm fascinated by the ways that people, ideas, current events and theology interact with each other.