A Reflection for the Third Sunday of Lent
By Amanda Svejda
Lectionary reading for 3/12/2023: Exodus 17:1-7,Romans 5:1-11,John 4:5-42
Selected passage: Romans 5:1-11
Romans 5:1-11, The Message
1-2 By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.
3-5 There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!
6-8 Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.
9-11 Now that we are set right with God by means of this sacrificial death, the consummate blood sacrifice, there is no longer a question of being at odds with God in any way. If, when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of his Son, now that we’re at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of his resurrection life! Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God, we are no longer content to simply say it in plodding prose. We sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah
I wish I could impart the precise, exhilarating sense of freedom, hope, love, and peace that the words in Romans 5:1-2 bring me. These words are fresh air. They encapsulate the very center of the Gospel message. The fulfillment of my [our] longings and hope: To be loved, accepted, and welcomed. By God. Because, out of love, on God’s own initiative, God was willing to send His Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins. And because of this, we have peace with God.
I have been a Christian for most of my life. But I haven’t always understood–or lived practically like I believe in my core–the Gospel truth found here: That while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:6, NIV). That it is not because I [we] loved God, but that God loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:10, NIV) that we are in right standing and at peace with God.
It’s not that I never believed this or don’t currently. It’s just that it’s so easy to become a Christian by faith one day, and then to spend every day after that doing all that is within our power to prove that we are worthy of the grace we never earned in the first place! Why I [we] do this is a lot more complicated than I have expertise or space to explain here. But that we function this way tells us why it’s so important to keep going back to God, every day, and choosing to trust in God’s love for us shown through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. That same love that we find poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.
It will not always be easy to believe, hold onto, and walk in this truth. But it will be worth it. Let us ask God to remind us through prayer, scripture, and our communities, that God loves us, that our salvation and our right standing, is a gift of grace [aggressive forgiveness, unmerited favor] through faith. And we can be absolutely confident in the hope we have in Christ Jesus our Lord, which will never disappoint us. Amen.
I pray–and I know–that the Holy Spirit will speak right to your heart, mind, and soul, and give you what you need from this passage.
Ask the Holy Spirit to convict you of God’s powerful love and acceptance of you today. Then sit awhile and bask in the pure joy of that feeling in God’s amazing, love-drenched presence.
Lord, in Your precious and merciful way, please remind us today:
“In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39, NIV)
In the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
About the Author
Amanda Svejda lives just north of Chicago and is married to her best friend and favorite humorist, Joey. She is also a dog mom to sweet Kona, who teaches her about unconditional love and the power of a good treat at an opportune time.
Amanda is a daughter of God who is seeking to fully embrace and believe in God’s love and acceptance. She believes her life mission is to love the Lord with all her heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love her neighbor as herself.
Her greatest hope is for all people to know and experience the love of God we have in Christ Jesus our Lord. And ultimately, to see ourselves and each other as made in God’s image and therefore, inherently worthy of love and dignity.