Year C – The Fourth Week of Lent – 2 Cor 5:16-21

Text–From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:16-21 ESV)

Summary–Paul served as pastor to the Corinthian church for about 18 month before moving to Ephesus around 52 AD.  As he was leaving, Paul trained Godly men to minister in his absense.  Among them, Titus stayed to shepard this particular flock of God’s people.  Paul stayed closely tied to the leaders, praying for them, and helping them better understand and love their Lord and savior through written correnspodence.  Despite his best efforts; however, Paul was plagued with opponents who fought against his teachings in Corinth.  Much of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church centers on defending himself against the assaults of his adversaries and their false claims of Christ.  The section of Paul’s letter that we read today deals with how Christians are reconciled with their creator God.  During the season of Lent, 2 Corinthians is particularly important in better understanding the extent of Christ’s suffering for His people.  Today we read that he who knew no sin, became a sin offering for us, so that we could become God’s righteousness.    

 Insight–How hard was it to create the universe from nothing at all?  Our world and everything in it didn’t exist before God called it to existence.   That is how powerful God is.  With a word, God made all things from nothing.  Now ask yourself, how hard is it to make something good when nothing good is there.  With much latitude when talking about an all powerful God, let us say that in one sense it was more difficult to create a Christian than to create a world. When God first made the world, it didn’t fight back.  Light didn’t oppose God.  But in our hearts, while there was nothing that could help God, there was much that could and did oppose Him.  We looked at him with emnity.  Our stubborn wills, our deep prejudices, our ingrained love for ourselves all opposed God and fought against His designs.  But with the Word, Jesus Christ, He made us a new creation.  The text says, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (vv.19).   He formed each of us into new creatures while we fought against him, while we hated Him.  Our first parents, Adam and Eve, hid from Him in the garden because they could not bear to be next to a Holy God in their nakedness.  Being holy and just, God could have left them to their sin and judged them fairly.  But he didn’t.  Christ removed the curse of sin, by becoming sin for us.  Through Jesus Christ, God has declared us righteous and has sanctified us, “so that we might become God’s righteousness in him” (vv.21).  This is the message that Paul’s opponents fought so hard against.  This is the message that opponents to Jesus Christ fight today.  We are saved by a simple faith in Jesus, but these people argue against this on the ground that there must be a great moral change in man before he can be reconciled to God.  Don’t belive this for one second.  You don’t have the power to make something from nothing.  You also don’t have the power to re-make something from nothing.  We are made new by God alone through Christ alone.

Catechism–(Q) In Christ, what are we? (A) We are new creations, the old is gone, the new has come.

Discussion–What ways do those around us try and reconcile themselves with God?  Which of these alternate paths make us right with God?

Prayer–Father, we thank you for adopting us as your sons and daughters, for making us new creatures through your Son, Jesus Christ.   Lord we ask that you give us confidence to live as your ambassador to the world, declaring your good news in making us clean through your son.  We ask this in the name of our redeemer, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Contributed by Michael Fenimore