Romans 3:21-26 (ESV)
21But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—22the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
I think that most of us who spend any time reading the Bible have a favorite passage of scripture. For me, it is Romans 3:21-26, because this passage reveals God’s great mystery of redemption, and answers one of the most pivotal questions of the entire Bible: “Why did Jesus have to die?” Perhaps we sometimes allow ourselves to think that certainly God could have come up with a different way. However, Paul explains here how God in his infinite wisdom overcame what to most would seem like an impossible dilemma.
If our transgressions truly separate us from God (v. 23), then how could God freely give salvation (v. 24) without trivializing sin? If God simply forgave us of our failings, without a payment being made, then sin would have no weight. The only way was to offer Himself, through His Son,as the sacrifice for our sins (v. 25). With this plan, God ensured that justice was served and that salvation could be given to mankind as a free gift through His grace (vv. 24 & 26)
However, this gift is only available to those who have faith in the one who made the payment for us (vv. 22, 25-26). “Faith in Jesus Christ” specifies the necessary object of our faith, Jesus Christ, and indicates that one has dedicated their life to following the will of God and His Son.
Follow-up: What is your favorite scripture, and why?
Lord, we recognize you as being the author of our salvation through the sacrifice of your Son, Jesus Christ. We praise you for the free gift of grace that you pour out on all those who have faith in your Son. Please help us to fully understand the significance of His payment, and to never take it for granted. Please give us the courage to take the good news about your Son to a lost and dying world. In your Son’s most holy name, Amen.