IN NOMINE JESU
The Preacher in the Book of Ecclesiastes says, "To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die…a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up" (Eccl. 3:1-2a, 3). There is a time for each of us to be called to our eternal rest. We do not know what time this will happen, but we know that all things are in God's hands and in His time. There came a time for each of us to be born, whenever that was for each of us, generally nine months after we were conceived. There came a time for us to go to school, a time to learn, and a time to grow. There came a time for us to get married and, for most of us, a time to start families. There was a time for us to become baptized and to be confirmed. Most of these events took place at certain structured points in time. Our parents or we saw to it that these things happened in a certain order. This order provides a form of structure in our lives.
We have structure in our lives so that we do not fall to pieces; God has seen to that. He has given us His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. "But when the fullness of time had come," St. Paul writes, "God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons" (Gal. 4:4-5). "For when we were still without strength," Paul says in our text, "in due time Christ died for the ungodly. …God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more, then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him" (vv. 6, 8-9). All time is in God's hands; all things are under His feet. Our heavenly Father knew when the right time was for His Son to come and be born, to come and die. He came to live and die while we were still sinners—before we were righteous—before we even came to be.
Martin Luther says, "'He died at the time when we were weak,' that is, He died at the time when we were not yet righteous and whole, but rather weak and sickly, so that the meaning is: 'at the right time,' namely, at that time when we were still weak." We know this is true, for this has been our condition since the Fall of mankind. King David reflected upon his own sinful nature, confessing in Psalm 51, "For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight—that You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me" (Ps. 51:3-5). In another of his "penitential psalms," David confesses, "Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am weak; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are troubled; but You, O LORD—how long?" (Ps. 6:2-3), and again, "I said, 'O my God, do not take me away in the midst of my days; Your years are throughout all generations. Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will endure…. But You are the same, and Your years will have no end" (Ps. 102:24-26a, 27). God is eternal; He has no beginning and no end. He has seen everything, and there is nothing new under the sun. He has seen the total depravity of mankind, which has been in existence ever since the days after the Creation. He has seen that, on account of the devil, the world, and mankind's sinful flesh, man is inherently evil and has no good within him. Any good work that we do apart from faith is sin. The sinful world calls it a good work, but God calls it sin since faith in Him is absent from the work.
We are not righteous folk, nor are we even good. Paul is right when he says in our text, "For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die" (v. 7). No one in his right mind here on earth should even think of dying for us. There is nothing in us that makes us worth dying for, for we are poor, miserable sinners who daily sin much and surely deserve nothing but God's temporal and eternal punishment.
And so it is that, while we were unrighteous, God sent His only Son, begotten by the Father from eternity, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, born under the law to redeem us who were under the law so that we would receive the adoption as sons, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. Yes, this happened 2,000 years ago, but what our Lord did on the cross still benefits us today, for His sacrifice of His body and blood was made once and for all time, under His time, "a time to kill, and a time to heal" (Eccl. 3:3a). "For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son," Paul writes, "much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life" (v. 10). Why are we saved? We have been saved through Baptism, through which the Holy Spirit works within us saving faith in Christ. Paul also writes, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Gal. 2:20), and again, "Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection…. Now if we died with Christ, we believe we shall also live with Him… Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (6:4-5, 8, 11).
Christ was born at the right time. Christ was crucified at the right time. Christ rose again at the right time. It was the right time because His saving us took place in His time. We rejoice, for we became baptized in His time, "we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation" (v. 11), in His time, for all time, to the end of time, "a time to break down, and a time to build up" (Eccl. 3:3b). Thanks be to God!
SOLI DEO GLORIA
Send Pastor Mark Schlamann an email.