Romans 4:23–25 (NKJV)
23 Now it was not written for [Abraham’s] sake alone that [righteousness] was imputed to him, 24 but also for us. [Righteousness] shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was [crucified] because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.
How shall a man be set right with God? Shall we love our neighbor and so please God? Shall we practice the ten commandments and so please God? Shall we beat our bodies into submission and so please God? Shall we live and let live and so please God? Shall we practice jihad and so please God? How shall a man be set right with God?
For nearly two millennia now our fathers and mothers have been celebrating the feast of Easter – the celebration of our Lord Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead. On this day, the first day of the week, our Lord Jesus rose bodily from the grave. Why?
Paul answers our question here in Romans. The resurrection presupposes the crucifixion, the death of Jesus. So why did Jesus die? He died, Paul tells us, because of our offenses. In other words, Paul reminds us that we all of us have sinned against God in thought, word, and deed. We have failed to live up to God’s standards, failed to love our Creator with all our heart, soul, and strength. Consequently, by nature we all stand guilty before God – estranged from God and in need of reconciliation with Him.
So how shall we be set right with Him? Only through the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf. Jesus gave His life, sacrificed Himself, that He might take away our guilt and set us right with God.
And 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; some degree of 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. 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 Christ is our Advocate.
Reminded that we can only be reconciled to God through the sacrifice of Jesus, let us kneel and seek His forgiveness in Christ.