Romans 5:12–19 (NRSV)
Verse 12Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned- Verse 13sin was indeed in the world before the law, but sin is not reckoned when there is no law. Verse 14Yet death exercised dominion from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who is a type of the one who was to come. Verse 15But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died through the one man's trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many. Verse 16And the free gift is not like the effect of the one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. Verse 17If, because of the one man's 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. Verse 18Therefore just as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man's act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. Verse 19For just as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.
Earlier in chapter 5, Paul has announced the heart of his gospel message: “God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.” (8). Now in today’s reading he supports that assertion with an extended comparison between two alternative paths of life: the old way of sin and death, and God’s new way of forgiveness and life. In repeated balanced phrases he repeats his basic premise: there is nothing that can compare to God’s free gift of grace in Jesus Christ which God intends for all people (15).
Wow! If this is really true, then what other response is left? Certainly one like that suggested in the refrain of Helen H. Lemmel’s hymn “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in his wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of his glory and grace.
And one like the meditation on John 3:16—“God so loved the world”—that resonates in our theme hymn for Lent.
God of grace, let your free gift of love in Jesus Christ be the power to transform and sustain my life today with peace and hope. Amen.