Eucharistic meditation

Eucharistic meditation July 12, 2009

Romans 3:25-26: God displayed Jesus publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

“It profits a man nothing when he is pleased with God.” That is Job’s complaint about his situation and the world he lives in. The righteous and wicked alike suffer, and it appears that being righteous makes no difference. That raises a larger dilemma: If righteous people suffer, then God must be unjust. Is it possible for both God and man to be righteous? Can both God and a suffering man be righteous?

Elihu, like Job’s three friends, has a simple solution to the problem. Can both God and man be righteous? No, they answer. Because God is just, Job cannot be. Justice means giving everyone his due, and because Job suffers, he is obviously being paid the wages of the wicked. God is just, and therefore cannot acknowledge that Job is just. There’s room in Elihu’s world only for one Just Person – and that’s God.

But we know that things are not so simple. From the first chapter, we know that Job is a righteous man, and so we are left with the dilemma. Does righteousness make any difference? Does it profit to be righteous? Is God’s world big enough to hold both a righteous God and a righteous, suffering man?

As Paul sees things, the gospel addresses that dilemma very directly. Jesus performs an act of complete righteousness. He fulfills the human side of the covenant fully by giving Himself in utter fidelity to the Father and by giving Himself in love for His people. He does what the law demands: He loves the Father with His whole heart and soul and mind, and He loves His neighbors as Himself.

At the same time, Jesus displays the love of God for us, fulfilling God’s side of the covenant. He is the Father’s gift to His people, the pledge of God’s faithfulness to His covenant and His people. Jesus is the great demonstration of the righteousness, the covenant fidelity, of God. In Jesus, the justice of God is revealed from faith to faith.

And, importantly, Jesus achieves all this in suffering and in death. He fulfills our obligations to God by giving Himself to death in faithful love, and He fulfills God’s covenant promises and demonstrates God’s justice by offering Himself on the cross. Through this one act of righteousness, Jesus reveals that God is both just and the justifier of His people. More than that, Jesus is in His own person the just man and the justifying God. In Jesus’ death, the righteous God and the righteous suffering man come together without confusion, without separation, without division, without change.

By faith we share in the cross of Jesus, His own covenant faithfulness. By faith, we are co-crucified with Him. And by receive this feast in faith, we are conformed to the cross of Jesus. By sharing the cross we fulfill, through Jesus, our covenant fidelity to God and our covenant love for our brothers. By sharing in the cross, we are a continuing demonstration that God’s world is big enough to hold both righteous sufferers and a righteous God. Conformed to the cross of Jesus at this meal, we are the continuing demonstration that God is both just and the justifier of those who have the faith of Jesus.

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