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God shall arise, his enemies shall be scattered; and those who hate him shall flee before him! As smoke is driven away, so you shall drive them away; as wax melts before fire, so the wicked shall perish before God! But the righteous shall be glad; they shall exult before God; they shall be jubilant with joy! Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts; his name is the LORD; exult before him! Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land. O God, when you went out before your people, when you marched through the wilderness, the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain, before God, the One of Sinai, before God, the God of Israel. Rain in abundance, O God, you shed abroad; you restored your inheritance as it languished; your flock found a dwelling in it; in your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy. (ESV)

Impossibly Rich Gifts

Friday of Easter 2

17 April 2015

Some years ago, a poor colleague of mine suffered an automobile collision in which a young woman turned left when she did not have the right of way. She was clearly at fault, having failed to stop at the red light. My friend was greatly inconvenienced because her insurance company delayed the payment of his claim. The woman was obviously a wealthy person in comparison to my friend, who hadn't the means to replace his car. Even after being taken to the emergency room at a local hospital, my friend sought the well-being of the young woman, who was also pregnant at the time, asking after her. Both mother and child were unharmed. He was greatly relieved, even though he was not at fault.


It seemed to me that the woman might have done my friend a good turn, if she had at least replaced his car which she had damaged. It would have been even better if she had not only replaced his car but had given him a gift as a special blessing to a long suffering servant of the Lord. What if she had then offered a million dollar scholarship fund for needy seminary students in his name? I know, I know, dream on! I can dream, can't I? Such gifts would be over and above the debt owed by the woman because of the traffic violation and subsequent auto wreck, wouldn't they? They would have been impossibly rich gestures.


How different God's actions are from human actions! He not only wipes out the effects of original sin (a sin He did not cause!) by remitting its penalty, placing it upon the back of His beloved Son, but He also forgives those sins that proceed from original sin, and then over and above this He grants life, salvation, and uncounted spiritual gifts to those who have deserved none of these things. He never leaves us at the mercy of others, but overwhelms us with gifts of grace far beyond all that we could possibly imagine or hope for. Christ has swallowed death, that it might never be disgorged to frighten or plague us ever again. In this season of Easter, death remains a subject of mockery; a toothless lion, who can roar but cannot kill. God holds us harmless for our inherited and actual sin, and then also renders premiums of His love to us, showering us with all the benefits that accrue from our justification in His sight. God showers us with blessings far greater than the debt which He has paid because of all our original and actual sin. These are impossibly rich gestures; hard to believe. That is why it is a gift of grace to believe that they are ours!


John Chrysostom 


"'And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification' (Rm 5:16). What is Paul speaking of here? Sin had power to bring death and condemnation; but grace did not do away with that one [original] sin only, but also those that followed after in its train. So that the word "like" might not seem to make the measure of the blessings and the evils equal, and that you might not think, upon hearing of Adam, that it was only that sin which he had brought in which was done away with, he says that it was from many offences that an indemnity was brought about. How is this clear? After the uncounted sins committed following the one perpetrated in paradise, the matter resulted in justification. But where righteousness is, there of necessity follows by all means life, and the countless blessings, as death does where sin was. For righteousness is more than life, since it is the source of life.


"There were many blessings given. It was not only that [original] sin that was taken away, but all the rest along with it. Paul points this out when he says, 'the free gift following many trespasses brought justification' (Rm 5:16).  In which a proof is necessarily included that death has also been torn up by the roots. But since he had said, that the second was greater than the first, he is obliged to give further grounds again for this same thing. For previously he had said that if one man's sin brought death upon all, much more will the grace of One have the power to save. After that he shows that it was not that [original] sin only that was done away with by the grace, but all the rest too. And it was not that the sins were done away with only, but that righteousness was given. Christ did not merely do the same amount of good that Adam did of harm, but far more and greater good." 

John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans, 10
Lord Christ, You have blessed us beyond all that the world would ever expect or imagine. How we struggle on this account to believe Your other-worldly generosity! Send us Your Spirit, that we might believe and trust what You have done for us. Help us to find joy in this overwhelming generosity and live at peace with You and all people. Amen.


For Pastor Charles Wokoma, that he would be kept safe while in Nigeria and that he would be a blessing to the Lutheran seminary there


For all those who are suffering business reverses, that the Lord Jesus would be with them in their trials


For Mary Havers and her children, Jackson and Madison, that they would recover fully from a minor auto wreck

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Resurrection (1515)

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