Romans 4:24–25 (NKJV)
[Righteousness] shall be imputed to us who believe in [the Living God] who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was [crucified] because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.
For nearly two millennia our fathers and mothers have been celebrating Holy Week – beginning last Sunday with Palm Sunday and culminating today in the feast of Easter. Part of the rationale for this celebration is the unbalanced record of Jesus’ life found in our four Gospels. What do I mean by that? What I mean is that each Gospel devotes about forty percent of its narrative to the last week of Jesus’ life. Let that sink in for a moment. Jesus lived for about 33 years – or approximately 1,716 weeks. One week of those 1700 weeks amounts to less than 1/10 of 1% of Jesus’ total life – yet the Gospels devote 40% of their narrative to that one week.
In so doing they announce – as does the rest of the NT – that Jesus’ ministry reaches its dramatic climax in this week. Jesus’ birth was not the climax; His childhood in Joseph and Mary’s home was not the climax; not even His interaction with John the Baptizer nor His teaching nor His miracles were the climax. Though all these events were important in their way, they were mere preludes to this one week in Jesus’ life.
So why is this week so important? Paul answers that question here in Romans. It is in this week that Jesus “was crucified because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.” First, Jesus was crucified because of our offenses. In other words, all of us have sinned against God in thought, word, and deed. We have failed to love our Creator with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Consequently, by nature we all stand guilty before God – estranged from God and in need of reconciliation with Him. We are, Paul says, “children of wrath.”
So how shall we be set right with Him? How shall we be reconciled to God? Only through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on our behalf. Jesus gave His life that He might take away our guilt and set us right with God. He was crucified because of our offenses.
But how do we know that Jesus’ sacrifice was accepted by God? How do we know that trusting in Jesus to reconcile us to God isn’t just some pie in the sky hope; just wishful thinking? We know because Jesus rose from the dead. In the resurrection, God has given proof to all men that the sacrifice of Christ has been accepted. Jesus was raised because of our justification. In other words, Jesus was raised to set us right with God.
So what of you? Where have you placed your hope for acceptance by God? Have you placed it in your good works? This hope shall fail. Have you placed it in your sorrow for your bad behavior? This hope shall fade away. Have you just hoped that God won’t care? That He is a benign and easy-going deity? That hope is vain. Our only hope lies in Jesus, the Lamb of God who was crucified for us and then rose again from the grave that we might be set right with God. So put your trust in Jeus. On the last day, we shall all rise from our graves and stand before our Creator – and the only way we shall endure that interview is if the crucified and risen Christ is our Defender.
Reminded that we can only be reconciled to God through the sacrifice of Jesus, let us kneel and seek His forgiveness in Christ.