Grace, mercy, and peace are yours through Jesus! Amen.
Romans 5:12, 18-19
In the name of Jesus, who has defeated Satan for us, dear Christians:
According to at least one survey of American women, the top character trait that women want in men is faithfulness or loyalty. What makes that fact interesting is that it matches what God wants from his people. He wants faithfulness. He wants loyalty. The horrible scene in the Garden of Eden is horrible because of disloyalty. Adam and Eve failed to remain faithful to God. They disobeyed. Because of their disloyalty to God death has entered the world and we have inherited their disloyal and disobedient hearts. Today we observe as Jesus goes to battle with the ancient enemy who deceived Adam and Eve and who continues to deceive us. Jesus has won the victory for us. There is a remedy for sin and death. So we are overjoyed to have this comforting reminder on this First Sunday in Lent – The Loyal Son Secures Your Salvation!
When one hears the words of Paul in Romans 5 – it is easy to become confused. He includes some side comments that do make his flow of thought a little hard to follow. So this morning we will just focus on the main thought Paul places before us. We read verse 12 and then verses 18-19: Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned – Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. As you read these statements it is very easy to come to the quick conclusion that God is not fair, at least not as we understand fairness. One sin brings death and punishment to everyone. That seems so unfair. But wait! One act of righteousness brings justification. That doesn’t seem fair either. Enough of the fairness routine! Let’s get to the facts that matter.
The fact is that all have inherited sin. Before we draw our first breath we stand condemned as sinners before God. It is indeed a harsh reality – yet a reality none-the-less. That inherited sin soon shows itself in actual sins. The truth of the matter is that we, like our first parents, are disloyal and disobedient to God. But our gracious God has done something about our problem of sin. He, just as he promised in the garden, has sent his Son to be perfect for us, to defeat the devil for us, and to destroy our last enemy, the consequence of our sin – death.
We are people plagued by Adam’s failure. We have a permanent character flaw that we have inherited from our parents. It is the same character flaw we see in action in Eden – disloyalty. Since sin has entered the picture we are conceived and born with the default position of being enemies of God. From conception we are spiritually blind. Original sin is hereditary guilt. Every person, by virtue of entrance into the human race, falls under the condemnation God pronounced on Adam because of his first sin. As we come into this world, we are already under the wrath of God, because Adam’s sin is charged to our account. This is the basis for our need for a Savior. We stand guilty of sin before God and the wages of sin is death. This is our lot as sinners. What is more – there is no way for us to save ourselves. We need help! We need a substitute! We need Jesus!
The first disloyalty or disobedience, the first sin started the ball rolling so that now every person is guilty of sin. This sin continues to plague us. We feel the guilt. We suffer the sadness. Death is our lot. Oh, how we long for comfort amidst the struggle and the sorrow! The good news for us today is that there is comfort and there is hope. We have a Savior. Yes, we our comforted by Christ’s victory!
There he stood in the barren land, hungry – starving. He stood eyeball to eyeball with the old evil foe. The temptation came – turn these stones into bread, prove to everyone that you are the Christ of God. The Loyal Son remains loyal. He speaks with perfect clarity, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” He would not compromise his loyalty to his Father in any self-serving way. I don’t think I would have stood up to this test. I don’t know if you would either. But Jesus did. He did for you. He did for me.
Jesus came to undo Adam’s failure. He was successful at this. He withstood all of the devil’s temptations and remained faithful, loyal, without sin. He did this for you. He did this for me. The inherited failure is destroyed, thanks to this second Adam, Jesus Christ.
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16). Today we learn of Jesus as that great High Priest who was tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. This shows us clearly that Jesus’ righteousness is more powerful than the spiritual poison called sin.
The result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. Here is the comfort you came for. Here is the whole reason this sanctuary and this congregation exist. Each of us in our very own and unique way have been wore down, beaten, burdened by sin all week long. Today we finally have that desperately needed opportunity to unload the burden and receive the spiritual healing we all need. We gather here troubled, threatened, wearied, and sorrowful. We gather here concerned about our eternal future. Jesus comes to us here through his Word and assures us that all is well – he invites: Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest for your souls. Jesus announces to us in his Supper – take eat, take drink, this is my body given for you and my blood, shed for you for the forgiveness of all your sins. Jesus focuses our attention on the font where our triune God put his name on us, making us his own dear children for all eternity. Yes, Jesus has paid for sin, removed guilt, and defeated the devil for us. We have life. Life is the enjoyment of God’s blessings. So we have physical life as long as we are enjoying God’s physical blessings – even when the physical blessing is only limited to the blessing of drawing a breath. We have spiritual life as we enjoy God’s spiritual blessings, such as his Word and sacraments. We will have eternal life as we enjoy being in God’s presence for eternity.
What practical value does all of this have for us today? It all seems so text book, so clinical, so theoretical. But the bottom line for this portion of Scripture is forgiveness and comfort for the sinner. Christ has served as our substitute and has done that perfectly. Where we have failed in our loyalty to God – Jesus was perfectly loyal. In his loyalty to God Jesus has secured salvation for you. Dear friend, you are forgiven. Dear brother or sister, heaven is yours! Thank God for this indescribable gift with loyalty to the God of your salvation. Remain faithful to the God who rescued you from condemnation. Lord, keep us steadfast to you! Amen.