“For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:7-8 (NKJV)
God’s love for me is most clearly seen in the death of Jesus because Jesus died for me as a powerless, godless sinner that was the enemy of God. Think for a second about how amazing that really is. Think how amazing it is that God loved us enough to send Jesus to come and die for us as powerless, godless sinners that chose to live as His enemies. This is the point that Paul makes. In these verses, Paul contrasts what God has done for us in Christ and what we might do under certain circumstances.
I grew up reading war books. The books I read tended to focus on WWII and Vietnam. They were also narrowly focused on infantry soldiers. When you read books like this, you will read many accounts of men sacrificing their lives for their brothers. Guys who will sacrifice themselves by jumping on the grenade so the rest of the team can live. Guys who sacrifice themselves by rushing the machine gun position that has them pinned down so that the rest of the team can live. Every good war book has at least one story of someone sacrificing his life for his team.
When we read things like that we can start to believe that is kinda the normative way things are. Then when we read what Paul says here we kinda miss the point. What do you mean “scarcely” will one person die for another? What do you mean “perhaps” someone will die in place of another? How can it be “scarcely” and “perhaps” when there are literally thousands of books that give millions of accounts of people who did just this? In this, we are missing the point.
Think for a second about how many people you know. Chances are we all know thousands of people. Now, narrow that list to people you love. There are probably hundreds of people we love. Now, narrow that list even further to the people you are willing to die for. This probably narrows the list to just a handful of people. The people we are willing to die for are probably people that we know and love. They are also probably people that know and love us. Are there many people on your list of people you’d die for that are hateful and hostile toward you?
The picture in this passage isn’t that of a soldier dying for his buddy. It isn’t the picture of a parent dying for their child or a child for their parent. A better way to picture this would be to imagine a soldier who jumps on a grenade to save the life of an enemy combatant. Or to picture a parent who goes to the electric chair in place of the man who killed his child. The picture in these verses isn’t that God sent Jesus to die for the morally upright who loved Him and were devoted to Him. Instead, the picture is that God sent Jesus to die for powerless, godless sinners that were His enemies and deserved His wrath.
When we see God’s love for us in this light, how can we not be amazed at God’s love?
When we see God’s love for us in this light, how can we not love Him back?
When we see God’s love in this light, how could we not keep Him as the supreme object of our devotion?
When we see God’s love in this light, how could we not give our lives to do anything and everything He wants us to do?
When we see God’s love in this light, how could we not serve Him with every fiber of our beings?
When we see God’s love in this light, how could we not tell everyone we know about His great love for powerless, godless sinners?