But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it.
A few years ago, on August 5, 2010, the Copiapó mine, an hour south of Santiago, collapsed. Thirty-three miners were trapped 2300 feet below the surface. To appreciate the situation, 2300 feet is almost twice the height of the Empire State Building in New York City. Things looked bleak indeed for those 33 miners and their families. The rescue operations began and ideas flowed in from around the world. Work went on around the clock. The whole world kept watch. After 17 days, all 33 miners were still alive. After 50 days, all the miners were alive and this was the longest that any miners had ever survived underground. Finally, after 69 days all 33 miners were rescued! Glorious rescue!
These 33 miners could not rescue themselves. They could not do anything to contribute to their rescue. The rescue had to come from above. The miners were trapped in darkness, helpless and hopeless, waiting on rescue from above. In some ways, the story of the Copiapó mine is a picture of Romans 1-3. In the first three chapters of Romans we see that all humans are under sin and guilty before God, deserving of his wrath and judgment. We could not rescue ourselves. We could not even contribute to our rescue. The rescue had to come from above. We were trapped in darkness, helpless and hopeless.
If the story ended at Romans 3:20, then we would be left at the bottom of the mine, trapped in darkness. But the story does not end there. The next verse begins: But now! But now! When things looked the bleakest: But now! When we were helpless and hopeless: But now! These two words represent the moment the shaft breaks through to the miners, a shaft of light and hope and grace. The rescue had arrived. But now!
O Lord, we are so grateful for the rescue above all rescues.