9 God is the one who saved and called us with a holy calling. This wasn’t based on what we have done, but it was based on his own purpose and grace that he gave us in Christ Jesus before time began. 10 Now his grace is revealed through the appearance of our savior, Christ Jesus. He destroyed death and brought life and immortality into clear focus through the good news.
We often think about Jesus as God’s plan B, the ultimate bailout for humanity who had screwed things up so badly. But I noticed something new in this text today, and that’s the acknowledgement of Jesus’ coming as part of God’s design from the very beginning. Before humankind existed, before time even began, Jesus was always THE plan for the salvation of the world. The writer of 2 Timothy talks about this grace-filled plan having been at work all along, but hidden from our eyes until the time of Christ’s appearance here on earth.
The ways we talk about Jesus’ sacrifice are often an occasion for guilt: “Look, we couldn’t handle this ourselves, we tried, but we really weren’t good enough. So God had to solve the problem for us.” The implication is: “How disappointed God must be in us!”
But that’s simply not the message we’re meant to receive. The good news we are meant to receive is instead about love, and forgiveness, and care, and most of all – grace. In Jesus, God isn’t responding to our failure. No, God worked this out for us long before we had a chance to even think about failing. Not that we haven’t failed along the way, of course we have. But God doesn’t offer us the blessings of salvation begrudgingly or unwillingly, with the purpose of blaming or shaming us. Instead, they are given freely, without reservation, and without guilt for our having needed them to begin with. Verse 9, which includes the phrase, “This wasn’t based on what we have done…” implies that salvation isn’t based on anything in our past, whether good or bad. Instead, it is based entirely on God’s own purpose and grace – God’s character that’s brought into clear focus in the face of Jesus Christ.
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
Often, when we need forgiveness from someone, there is a certain amount of shame for needing it to begin with. There’s a sense that “we should have known better” or “we should have done better.” How might this knowledge – that Jesus’ coming wasn’t plan B – help you to set aside your own guilt at having made mistakes? After all, God expected that we’d need this help!
Prayer: Holy God, we thank you for your gracious, giving, and forgiving nature. You provided for our salvation though Jesus Christ before humanity ever came into being. You always intended to save us, and through him call us by your grace into loving relationship with yourself. We are grateful for this purpose and our calling. In Jesus’ name, amen.