A Timely Demonstration of Love
The Bible tells us of how we need to think about Good Friday. In fact, there are many places in the Bible we can turn to learn about Good Friday.
Today, we choose to look at a letter written by the Apostle Paul. He writes to the church that is established in Rome. Paul wants to go to Rome, and eventually does. Since he is unable to go when he would like, he writes a letter because he wants them to understand everything they need to know about salvation.
In the first four chapters, Paul explains HOW we are saved by Jesus. In summary, he writes that we are saved by faith. Those who believe Jesus dies for their sin, and that Jesus is the substitutionary punishment for us, are saved.
After explaining how to be saved, the Apostle Paul changes the subject in chapter five. He answers a very important question, which is, “WHY are we saved?” What motivates God to save us? Why, does God choose to save people. Paul addresses God’s motive for salvation.
The short answer to Paul’s question is simple. The reason we are saved is because of God’s love.
We know the answer because we are familiar with what Jesus said to Nicodemus. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
God loves the world. That’s why.
Can we measure God’s love? How much does God love us? Is there proof that lets us know for certain? Paul says there is a measure we can see.
God’s Demonstration – Romans 5:6-8
Paul's declares the measure of God’s love in the following verses.
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)
Let’s not overlook the significance of the statement.
We can know of God’s love because of His timing. God’s timing is perfect. Jesus died at the time appointed by the Father.
We can demonstrate love in the timing of what we say and do. Think of the times we know someone cares because they are purposeful in their timing. Have you ever waited to give someone a gift, because you wanted to wait until the right time? There are bad times to do something. There are good times. And there are the perfect times.
God’s timing is perfect. He carefully and thoroughly designs a plan to demonstrate His love. God’s plan is like the coming together of a hundred instruments in an orchestra to make beautiful music. God deliberately and precisely orchestrates every event of our salvation.
God began planning the way to demonstrate His love before the foundation of the world. He orchestrated countless events, with the Nation of Israel, He made covenants, and told of His plan through Holy-Spirit inspired prophecy. God times weather conditions while unfolding His plan of salvation. He times a flood for Noah, destructive winds for Job, and a tempest on the sea for Jesus to calm. When Jesus dies, He darkens the sky at the right time.
God times Jesus’ death during the Roman Empire.
Rome is glorious. It is the height of human achievement. People are cultured, they have running water, and world peace is enjoyed. The Empire is the world's first and most enduring super-power, spanning continents. We can still cite names of people from the glory days of Rome.
Jesus is born during the reign of Caesar Augustus. God’s timing illustrates a great contrast.
Augustus is considered divine. The currency inscriptions reflect this viewpoint. Augustus is called, divi filius, the son of god.
Emperor Augustus ushers in worldwide Roman Peace. He gains peace by threatening with the sword. In contrast, Jesus teaches that those who live by the sword will perish by the sword. Augustus says conquer your enemies. Jesus says love your enemies.
Augustus is a high-priest of the Roman State religion. He is the mediator god who bridges the gap between people and gods. Jesus is the great High-priest who mediates between the one true God and man.
At the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.
God chooses the method of death. God looks upon the span of human history and selects Roman crucifixion to send a message.
The cross is the Roman government message about sin. Crucifixions take place on the road leading to the city. It is a signpost to all who enter. Don’t break the law in this town, or else.
The cross is God’s answer to sin, showing that He is serious about punishing lawbreakers. God’s message is, “Let people look upon the cross and know I hate sin.” He says, “cursed is the man that hangs on a tree.”
Jesus knows God has a perfect time. John’s Gospel verifies this truth:
John 2:7 “My hour has not yet come.”
John 7:6, “My time is not yet here”
John 7:30 they were seeking to seize Him; and no man laid his hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come.
John 8:20 no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.
John 17:1 “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you.”
Jesus dies during the time of the Jewish Passover. God chooses the perfect year, month, week, day, and hour for Jesus, the Lamb of God to die.
At the right time, Christ died for the ungodly
A loving God concerns Himself with painstaking detail to demonstrate His love in perfect time.
With perfect timing, God demonstrates His love to an undeserving people.
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Romans 5:6)
Just as being unhealthy is the opposite of being healthy, being ungodly is the opposite of being godly. In other words, they are the opposite of God. They are not right or good. They are not holy. The ungodly are sinners that rebel against God.
To help us grasp the incredible truth in terms we may understand, Paul illustrates it even further with his next sentence.
For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:7-8)
Do people die for others? Maybe, someone might die for a good and righteous person. Maybe. It’s happened before. But, it doesn’t happen frequently.
Many think God’s plan is to save the best people of mankind. They think Jesus saves people because they are worth saving. Jesus doesn’t save the Hitler’s or the Mussolini’s of the world, but He comes to save the do-gooders. Let’s be good people so Jesus will save us.
People think this way because that is what people do. We might die for someone who is nice, a good person, we may dare to die for them. But, who in their right mind suffers and dies for the ungodly?
Who will walk into a prison, select a lawbreaker, and say, “I will die for you.”
Let’s examine our lives and be honest. We are choosy about the people we help. We’ll help the guy willing to work, but we are not going to help the lazy guy. We let good people borrow our cars, but not criminals. We lock our houses to keep ungodly sinners out. We avoid the ungodly. We cheer when the ungodly die in the movies and in real life. Nobody dies for the ungodly.
Dying for ungodly sinners is absurd.
The Apostle Paul spends much of chapters one, two, and three proving how everyone, all people, Jew and Gentile alike, are ungodly sinners deserving of God’s wrath.
“There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave, With their tongues they keep deceiving,” “The poison of asps is under their lips”; “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness”; “Their feet are swift to shed blood, Destruction and misery are in their paths, And the path of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:10-18)
But, that is the people God chooses to demonstrate His love.
While the rest of mankind says, “of course I am going to heaven, I am a good person, of course God will save me,” our eyes read the truth of Scripture and we cry out, “Woe is me. Have mercy on me.”
Ungodly sinners deserve to be crucified. Every angel in heaven who sees the holiness and goodness of God, looks upon mankind and wonders, “when will you destroy them God. They trample on Your holiness, the take Your name in vain, they lie and murder, they don’t fear You. When, O Holy One, will you pour out your wrath”
If we don’t grasp the depth of what it means to be ungodly, we will not understand the depth of God’s love. If we don’t see ourselves as ungodly, then we will not see the glory of God’s grace. Grace is unmerited, unearned, unworthy, favor.
God reveals the magnitude of our prior sinful condition so we may understand His grace more fully and love Him more deeply.
Our love has limits. We know we have a limit to our love. It is not our nature to love sinners. We turn away from ungodly sinners. The nature of our love is conditional.
God is love. The nature of God’s love is unconditional. Nobody deserves God’s love. God demonstrates unconditional love by sacrificing His beloved Son so ungodly sinners may be saved.
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Romans 5:6)
The Demonstration of God’s Love: Christ
To fully understand the breadth, width, height, and depth of God’s love we need to understand how Jesus fits into the equation for measuring the love of God.
God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
Jesus is His name. Christ is His title. The Greek word is Christos. It means God’s anointed Messiah. The Christ died.
Let’s attempt to grasp this in terms we may understand. How do we demonstrate love? We give what is valuable to others so they know we love them. We give valuable time to write out a card, stick it in the mail. People go to a store and spend hard-earned money to buy a gift and demonstrate their love.
We measure the demonstration of love by the value. We measure with dollar signs, the amount of time, the difficulty of the hard work, or maybe the amount of time spent in thinking about how to demonstrate love.
To demonstrate the measure of God’s love, not just anything will do. Gold or precious jewels will not work. They are not valuable enough. Nothing in the universe is suitable. God doesn’t select anything in creation. Everything in creation is finite.
The demonstrate the measure of God’s love requires something beyond measure. It must be of infinite value. God requires something which is priceless.
There is only one thing suitable that can reveal the full measure of God’s love. For God so loved the world that He gave His only beloved, and precious, Son. Jesus is the ultimate measure to demonstrate God’s love.
Not only does God give His Son to the world, His Son performs the ultimate sacrifice. Jesus lays aside His privileges to become a man. But it is not enough to reveal the measure of God’s love. It’s not enough for Jesus to become a lowly servant. Jesus enduring hunger and cold is not enough. Suffering from being whipped and being spit upon and humiliated is not enough. The ultimate demonstration of God’s love is measured in the death of Jesus, God’s beloved Son.
Jesus bleeds, suffers, and dies. His death on the cross is one of the most painful deaths imaginable. The anointed Messiah is given to the world. He pays the ultimate sacrifice to demonstrate the infinite measure of God’s love.
How deep the Fathers lover for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure
Why does God save us? Because God is love.
How may we know this love? Look to the cross and no further.
Worship God for His unconditional, immeasurable, infinite love that He pours out upon ungodly sinners.