The Ultimate Reversal of Fortunes

Why Jesus Is My Hero #26 of 52

We love tales of big reversals: the pauper who marries the princess; the Apple founder fired from his own company before eventually being hired back as CEO and going on to build it into one of the most valuable companies on the planet; the Jamaican bobsleigh team that’s never even seen snow and then manages to win the respect of their Winter Olympics peers. We especially loves such stories when they’re from real life.

Well nowhere is there a bigger real life reversal of fortunes than in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Several times in the Bible we find these glorious “but now” or “but God” moments – wretched humanity has managed to get itself into a complete mess, and God wonderfully and graciously steps in to save us. One of my favourites comes in Romans 3:21. After three chapters in the courtroom where Paul has been laying out his case, showing how all of humanity stands condemned before God, 3:21 is one of those moments that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end – “But now”. Paul summarises a few verses later in these words:

“For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” (Romans 3:22-25)

The verdict is clear: all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We have no possible excuse before God for our idolatry and rebellion against him. All of us have suppressed the truth and turned aside to worship created things in place of the Creator. All of us rightly deserve judgement for this ultimate act of treason.

So how wonderful it is then that God steps in to rescue us of his own free grace – not because of anything we have done to merit or deserve it, but simply because of his great love. The means of salvation totally strips us of any grounds for boasting or claiming to have contributed: it’s Jesus’s death that is the propitiation we so desperately need – that is, a sacrifice to turn aside God’s righteous anger. All we can do is humbly receive it by faith – there’s nothing we can do to add to his death or improve upon his sacrifice.

From being God’s enemies we are adopted into his family as his children – what a glorious reversal of fortunes! And for once it’s not one of the glib Disney “you can achieve anything if only you put your mind to it” kind of stories. It’s a reversal that came at immense cost to God – it cost the death of his only Son Jesus. But what a wonderful message of hope it is for those of us who are only too aware of our shortcomings. God knew exactly what he was getting himself into when he stepped in to rescue us – it was whilst we were still sinners that Christ died for us. So we can have confidence that he’ll stick by us and bring us safely to his New Creation.