Editor’s note: While this article was scheduled some weeks in advance, I’d like to take the opportunity to share a blessing to those who celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ today (and with all who celebrate that fact on a regular basis): May you find special joy and peace remembering when God certified that Jesus was indeed our Savior, and that He lives forever.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “The ground is level at the foot of the cross”? Today, we might use that to express the fact that anyone can come to Jesus for salvation and inclusion into God’s family, and I think that this is an important point to remember. (By the way, that phrase isn’t necessarily in the Bible directly, but it is a good metaphor for multiple things that we learn from the Bible.)
After all, while some first-century Jewish Christians may have struggled with the idea of Gentiles following Jesus without first adopting Jewish practices, today there are other biases. Some people still hold to the belief that following Jesus requires you to be “good enough” to be accepted by Him in the first place, or the idea that Christianity is a “white man’s religion”. Both of these are particularly ironic, when you know the truth about God’s grace, and the fact that Jesus was clearly Middle-Eastern, and not European (nor was he American!).
After mentioning some poorly thought out arguments against God for our individual obligation to be righteous, Paul mentions the following in the third chapter of Romans:
What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin.
Romans 3:9 NIV
Perhaps the level ground that we metaphorically describe at the foot of the cross of Christ isn’t just the fact that anyone can come to Jesus, just as they are, if they believe in Him. While that is true, maybe this level ground is also a metaphor that we have all fallen to the same point (having separated ourselves from God through sin), and we all need Jesus just as much.
The Jewish person doesn’t have an advantage (despite being part of the nation that was God’s chosen people, and being biologically descended from Abraham), because no human being – except Jesus – perfectly followed the law, and so being under the law provides condemnation. The Gentile person doesn’t have an advantage (even if claiming ignorance of God’s expectations) because God made right and wrong sufficiently clear to everyone who chose to rebel against God through sin.
We are all on level ground when it comes to sin: We’ve all sinned, and we all need God’s grace.
Thinking back, there was a time in the nation of Israel’s history (see Numbers 21:4-9) where God had sent deadly snakes to discipline (or punish) those who sinned by complaining. In a foreshadowing of Jesus’ death on the cross, Moses followed God’s instructions and made a bronze snake on a pole, where those who had been bitten survived if they looked at the bronze snake. Those who were healed in this way weren’t any better (i.e., somehow “less bitten”) than those who died from snakebites. Their peril in being injected with venom was exactly the same. The only difference was whether they had sought out and received the available means of healing.
So, if you have looked to Jesus for healing and transformation, don’t forget that there’s no justification for personal pride in having been saved by Him. After all, He did all of the work to make our salvation possible, so the one who has received this gift doesn’t have any right to feel superior to those who have not yet heard about it. Instead, let us remember where we all started,
And, if you haven’t yet turned to Jesus as the only one who can restore your life to the way it was meant to be, don’t be put off by the fact that you’ve done things you aren’t proud of. There is no one – neither those who follow Jesus, nor those who do not – who didn’t start there. You are welcome to God’s grace, which is specifically extended to those who have sinned, like you and me.
From Sunday School lesson prepared for February 6, 2022
- The Lookout, February 6, 2022, © 2022 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- The College Press Commentary, Romans, Volume 1, by Jack Cottrell. College Press Publishing Company, © 1996.