“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6–8, KJV 1900)
On December 4, 2006, Pfc. Ross A. McGinnis, a private in the U.S. Army saved the lives of four brothers in arms while serving in Iraq. He fell on a hand grenade that was thrown into the vehicle they were in. The survivors stated that he did this even though he could have bailed out of the vehicle and saved himself. This type of heroism is not uncommon in military service because there is a mission, a response to certain situations, and a certain bond that soldiers establish in combat. Yet, this act, as heroic as it was, does not compare to what Jesus did for us. Paul explains the reason here.
Paul indicates that someone might sacrifice their life for a righteous person or a good person, but never for an ungodly one. Private McGinnis gave his life for his brothers in arms, those he would consider good, actually more than that, close friends. Yet, he would hardly have sacrificed himself to save the enemy who threw the grenade. As Paul indicates, this is one point in which the sacrifice of Jesus is different from all others. Paul continues the thought, “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” (Romans 5:10, KJV 1900)
Jesus gave his life voluntarily for the ungodly, those destitute of reverence. These are people who are sinners, alienated from God and enemies of God. Moreover, this describes our former condition. We were weak, sinners, incapable of overcoming the problem of sin, unrighteous and alienated from God. Yet, while we were yet in this condition, Paul indicates that Christ died for us.
We should sit back and take a moment to consider how despicable we were in the eyes of infinitely holy God who hates sin. We should consider the depth of love that caused Him to send His own Son to die for us. We should consider the supreme sacrifice of Jesus for us that saved us from the power of sin and eternal punishment. When we consider all of this, should we not love Him more? Should we not more fully surrender our lives to Him? Should we not give thanks and worship Him? Think on these things today.