Romans 5:17-21 (NRSV) The Wondrous Cross of Grace
If, because of the one man’s (Adam) trespass death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.
Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification for all. For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one’s man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. But law came in, with the result that the trespass multiplied; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, just as sin exercised dominion in death, so grace might also exercise dominion through justification leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I am deeply convicted each Holy Week when we sing the hymn “Ah Holy Jesus,” “Twas I Lord Jesus, I it was denied thee, I crucified thee.” Paul reminds us in Romans 5 that Adam’s sin is also our sin. We all like Adam have disobeyed God in thought, word, and deed. But sin is far deeper than disobedience. Sin is a power that leads to alienation and separation from God, leading to death in multiple ways. The cross attests to this deadly power of sin. But thankfully, the cross even more strongly attests to the abundant power of grace and the free gift of righteousness (5:17). Paul goes on to assert that God’s costly grace in Jesus’ death on the cross leads to eternal life.
I believe that eternal life is not only a blessed power we experience after death but is also the promise of the power of new life in the present. Grace offers you and me the quality of abundant life here and now. Two other texts from Paul that I frequently turn to remind me of the power of grace in my life: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9)and “I can do all things through him (Christ) who strengthens me” (Phil.4:13). Gratitude for this abundant, powerful grace of God through Chris’s death on the cross is best summarized for me in another Holy Week hymn, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” where we sing, “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.”
God of life giving grace, continue to bless us on our Lenten journey to the cross of Christ. In heartfelt gratitude, may your abundant grace lead us more deeply into the fullness of your heart of love. In the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Daniel Thomas Jr.