11th Sunday After Pentecost: He Doeth All Things Well
It’s just one tiny sentence at the end of a story, but it’s the key to understanding the story.
After Jesus healed the Syrophoenician’s daughter of the demon and healed the deaf man by touching him with His saliva (Mark 7), along with other unnamed miracles, the crowd declared, “He has done all things well…” (v. 37).
This not only fits as the summary of these miracles, but it also is an appropriate summary of the life and ministry of Christ and His position as the Son of God: Jesus does all things well.
That phrase seems to ring with the sound of Genesis 1 where after each day of creation it is said of God’s acts, “God saw that it was good.” Of course, shortly thereafter, sin intruded and a whole lot of bad came with that one sin. But when Jesus arrived, all that He did was good.
To make things good is the very nature of God. In the original act of creation, all that He made was good (He could only make good things). And likewise, the only things Christ can do are good. From the healing of the ill and to the redemption of sinners, Christ has done all things well.
In fact, it should be said that this testimony of Christ, “He has done things well,” should be reflected in our own life — everything we do should be good, everything we currently are doing should be good, and everything we will do should be good.
We must also recognize that everything we as lovers of God experience today comes through the gracious hand of God, and it is for the good. We can look at our current situation and as hard or as joyful as it is, we can say equally in each scenario, “He is evidencing His good to me.” He is doing all things well in me.
Saint Paul says, in his letter to the Romans, “And we know that to them that love God, all things work together for good, to such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints.”
This Scripture brings comfort, direction, and hope to Christians every day. But there are three things about this popular verse you may never have noticed.
First, Romans 8:28 doesn’t mean we can live any way we choose, and God will fix our messes.
To understand the truth of Romans 8:28, we can’t just quote the part of the verse we like: “All things work together for good . . .” and skip over, “To those who love him...to such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints.”
Romans 8:28 is a promise for believers. Real believers. Those who are living for Christ.
Those who are set apart for the purpose of becoming saints of God. Not those who claim to believe in God but are living for themselves.
This verse says to those who love God, “Even though bad/sad/evil/wicked things will touch their lives, God will use those things to ultimately bring about good, both in their life and in the world.” In other words, To them that love God to them who are called to be saints according to His purpose, God does all things well.
So, first, Romans 8:28 doesn’t mean we can live any way we choose, and God will fix our messes.
But Secondly, Romans 8:28 tells us God can work all things together for good.
He doesn’t say all things are good. It has been said that “God allows what he hates, to accomplish what he loves.” No matter how rose-colored our glasses are, there’s nothing good about the results of sin in this world.
Saint John Chrysostum said, “When Paul speaks of “all things” he mentions even the things that seem painful. For if tribulation, or poverty, or imprisonment, or famines, or deaths or anything else should come upon us, God can change them into the opposite. For this is one instance of his ineffable power, that he can make painful things appear light to us and turn them into things which can be helpful.” In other words God does all things well.
The truth of Romans 8:28 reminds us that although sin and Satan are powerful, God is more powerful. He is able to redeem and restore anything for our good and his glory. All things may not be good, but God can and will use all things for good....God does all things well.
Consider the life of Joseph of the Old Testament. He suffered - jealousy from his brothers, His own brothers sold him into slavery. He suffered false accusation from an evil woman, and prison. But it says in Genesis 39:21, that in the midst of all those negative things that happened to him, "the Lord was also with Joseph", and God was making all things well. It doesn't matter if you are surrounded by every type of inconvenience, if the Lord is with you. That is enough.
In Genesis 45:5 Joseph tells his brothers, who betrayed him, who were going to leave him in a pit to die...Joseph tells his own flesh and blood who sold him into slavery... "It was God who sent me before you." Again in Genesis 45: 7, he says, "God sent me before you." And once again in Genesis 45: 8 "God sent me." He was telling his brothers, "It was not you who sold me to the Ishmaelites, it was God. It was not Potiphar's wife who sent me to the jail, it was God." Blessed indeed are we if we can see God doing all things well in all our ways - even in the evil that others do to us. Have you seen this glorious truth? Don't ever say, "This person is harming me" or "That person is harming me." It is God, doing all things well in your life. It is God who is allowing people to do things to you, to say things about you. Joseph prepared a great feast for his brothers who had once sold him into slavery. He also gave the best land in Egypt - the land of Goshen - to these brothers who had once prepared a pit for him (46:34)! Such is the attitude of a man of God.
In Genesis 50:20, we hear Joseph saying words similar to what Paul says in Romans 8: "As for you, you meant evil against me. But God meant it for good". This verse is the Romans 8:28 of the Old Testament. God makes all things work together for good for those who love Him.
So, first, Romans 8:28 doesn’t mean we can live any way we choose, and God will fix our messes. Secondly, Romans 8:28 tells us God can work all things together for good.
And this brings us to the final thing you may never have noticed about Romans 8:28 and its accompanying verse, Romans 8:29 —
The ultimate good God wants to accomplish in the lives of his children.
“For those God foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (v. 29).
Scripture proclaims that Christ “is the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15) and “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Hebrews 1:3). And just as He “is” now, so He “was” during His incarnation. As He walked the earth in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:7), Jesus perfectly displayed the image of God. As we see, in today's gospel reading, He did so by his ministering to others and through His holy living — the perfect obedience to the law of God. In all He did, Jesus reflected the holiness of God. In all he did he did it well.
It is important for us to see that Christ is the image of God so that we might understand both the work He has done on the cross and the work He is doing in us today. Jesus’ living picture of the unstained, unmarred image of God in man gives us an idea of what we are created to be and what God plans to make of us — holy men and women of God, “conformed”, as Saint Paul said, in to the image of Christ Himself.
1 Corinthians 15:49 promises us that “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust [Adam], we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven [Jesus].” The early church had come to see salvation as a work of God by which He makes His people more like Christ — to the end that they more closely reflect the image of God.
But what does it mean to say that God is making us more Christlike? Simply put, it means that He is making us more holy. He is working in us to cause us to live holy lives. Lives that minister to others, lives that are lived well.
Colossians 3:9-10 “You have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator”. All our days we live in a state of being transformed or renewed.
But the glorious promise of God is this: “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). The process will end when our great God brings about our final glorification.
And we will be able to proclaim as did those in our Gospel reading for today that “He has done all things well.”