For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. (Romans 5:6)
We live in a world that is fast paced. In 2022, we can easily listen to a song, watch a movie, or learn about what is going on on the other side of the world in just a matter of seconds. This was probably unimaginable to many people 25 years ago. Although the advent of smartphones has allowed us to have instant access to new information, it may have caused us to forget how to slow down. We are so used to having things quickly that we can find ourselves being impatient quicker if we have to wait longer than expected. In today’s reading, the apostle Paul discusses God’s plan of salvation through Jesus Christ and his timing in bringing that plan into fruition.
As we can see in the Old Testament, God is not always in a rush in fulfilling his promises. After Adam and Eve’s sin, God told the serpent that one of Eve’s offspring will eventually strike its head (Genesis 3:15). Multiple generations later, God tells Abraham that he will make him a great nation and that the world will be blessed through him (Genesis 12:1-4). Hundreds of years later, God makes a covenant with King David that his throne will be established forever (II Samuel 7:16). And notably, through the prophet Isaiah, God promises a suffering and righteous servant who will justify many and carry their iniquities (Isaiah 53:11). These promises, which were given over a period of centuries and during a time Israel was occupied by the Roman Empire, were ultimately fulfilled through Jesus Christ. Jesus himself even proclaimed to his disciples that “many prophets and righteous people longed to see the things you see but didn’t see them…” (Matthew 13:17). How does this show that Jesus died for the ungodly at the right time?
During the time of Jesus’ ministry, Israel was under occupation by the Roman Empire. Although the Jewish people despised the Romans as a whole, the Romans knack for building roads allowed traveling to be more convenient (for the time). Before he ascended back to heaven 40 days after his resurrection, Jesus commanded his apostles to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). Due to the network of roads and shipping routes throughout the known Roman world, it made proclaiming the Gospel to the Gentile world and fulfilling the Great Commission possible. As shown in the book of Acts, the Gospel was spread starting from Jerusalem, Judea, and eventually to regions outside of Israel. How does this apply to us today? Since God is sovereign, we can trust that he is in control of all things, including the day today aspects of our lives and trials we face. When we face trials it may seem that God is distant and we question his goodness. It is only really when we look back once we get out of these trials that we see God’s work in our lives. God uses trials to mature our faith (James 1:4), reveal areas in our lives that we are blind to, and mold us to become more like Jesus. Although we may enter seasons in life that may seem spiritually dry and waiting on God to answer our prayers, we can be confident that he is always at work and will respond in his perfect timing.