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It Depends…

Lent 2023

Read Romans 9:14–29

14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hosea,

"Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’
26 And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’"

27 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, 28 for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.” 29 And as Isaiah predicted,

"If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring, we would have been like Sodom and become like Gomorrah."

It depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. Romans 9:16

“It depends...” Those two words can sound slippery. “Dad, can I have the keys?” “It depends.” That’s not a straight answer. On what does it depend? Dad could string out a long list of demands before parting with those keys!

Speaking about how people are embraced by God, St. Paul gives a different kind of “it depends” answer... God doesn’t give a list of demands that people must meet. It depends on God’s mercy. It doesn’t depend on us, but on him. It’s that simple.

God says, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy.” While he doesn’t force people to receive his gift, and is grieved when they reject him, the focus of this passage is on God. All blessings are found in him. They do not depend on us, but on his grace and mercy. Since we know that gift, we can say with the hymn writer:

All depends on our possessing God’s abundant grace and blessing!”

We do have his grace and blessing, because it depends on him.


Loving Father, help me to reflect your mercy by making your glory known. Amen.

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