Romans 5:17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.
Frankly, Paul’s logic gets a little convoluted in this whole passage. The major point that I manage to come away with is that Jesus – His life, death, and resurrection – trumps everything that came before that, and that’s good news. One thing that Paul rightly keeps stressing throughout not just Romans but all his letters is that salvation is a gift of grace, not something we have earned or ever could earn. Here he is pointing out that Adam condemned all his descendants through his sin, but God’s gracious gift nullifies all of that, for those who will receive it. We have the proverb, “Nothing is more sure than death and taxes,” but in Christ, eternal life is even more sure. Physical death remains, until God makes all things new, (Revelation 21:5) but in Christ, spiritual, eternal life becomes a present reality. Paul uses the term, “reign,” to describe all this, but absolute monarchies are rare indeed at this point, so we don’t relate very well. Saying that death reigned simply means that nobody escaped, and we can understand and relate to that. However, Jesus DID escape, after having gone through death for us. That means that those who are in Him come out on top, regardless of what we go through in the mean time; we share in His eternal life. That is the best news there possibly could be!
I find myself almost regretting including this passage in the readings, out of concern that it will confuse people. However, the Holy Spirit can be trusted to explain this to all who are open to Him. I find myself reminded of one of the simplest choruses I ever learned: “We win, we win; Hallelujah! We win! I read the back of the book, and we win!” That’s all there is to it, but sometimes that’s precisely the message we need to hear. My faith has grown and matured over the years, but I am still subject to negative emotions and simple exhaustion. When those come, I need to remind myself, as I remind others, that Jesus has it all taken care of, so all we need to do is abide in Him. There is so much going on, on many different levels, that I am tempted to shout the title of a Broadway production of quite a few years ago: “Stop the World! I want to get off!” I need to remember that in Christ, I reign, and so rest, relax, and rejoice.
Father, thank You for speaking to me through this pretty dense passage. I pray that all who are using this Scripture list would likewise be blessed, hearing what Your Spirit is saying to them, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!