Reflections: Thursday of the First Week after the Epiphany

Daily Lectionary: Ezekiel 34:1-24; Romans 3:19-31

For there is no distinction:  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:22b-24)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.  That’s a stark word of judgment.  God’s Law tells you this.  You haven’t kept the Ten Commandments.  You haven’t loved the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind.  You haven’t loved your neighbor as yourself.  But that’s not the end of this passage, or even the end of the sentence.  The same “all” that have sinned is also the “all” that are justified by God’s grace as a gift.  Jesus died for all sinners.  Everyone is covered by Jesus’ shed blood.  Not everyone believes, but Jesus has come in the flesh to die and to rise for all sinners.

That matters to you because you can never say, “I’m such a terrible sinner that Jesus shouldn’t care about me.”  It isn’t true to think, “My sin is so great that Jesus won’t forgive me.”  Certainly, the devil, the world, and your sinful nature might try to convince you that Jesus doesn’t forgive you, but consider the source!  Christ declares that He has shed His blood for you.  Your guilt is covered over by Christ.  You are justified by the One who is just.  God brings justice, not on your terms but on His terms.  Is God’s grace fair?  You might not think so.  You might not think it’s fair for someone who has hurt you or who has lived a certain way to be forgiven.  But God acts in His justice and mercy, not just for you, but for everyone.  He brings His justice through faith and by faith to all people.  There is no distinction, and that means that you aren’t beyond God’s desire or ability to forgive.  In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Lord, I believe Thy precious blood, Which at the mercy seat of God Pleads for the captives’ liberty, Was also shed in love for me.  (Lutheran Service Book 563, stanza 3) Text: Public domain

-Pastor Peter W. Ill is Pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, Millstadt, Illinois.


Audio Reflections Speaker: Patrick Sturdivant, Development and Marketing Executive at Higher Things.

Study Christ’s words on the cross to see how you can show more Christlike grace in your life. Perfect for group or individual study, each chapter has a Q&A at the end, and the back of the book includes a leader guide. Available now from Concordia Publishing House.