For while we were yet weak, in due season Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: for peradventure for the good man some one would even dare to die. But God commendeth his own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:6-8).
Part of the greatness of what Jesus has accomplished involves the profound contrasts between who He is and what we are. He humbled Himself mightily by becoming a man, let alone a carpenter’s son in the backwoods of Galilee (Philippians 2:5-11). While we humans prize strength, power, glory, learning, and might, Jesus came in weakness, humility, and relative insignificance (Isaiah 53, 2 Corinthians 12:9, Matthew 11:28-29). When humans would expect the Son of God to conquer with the sword, Jesus conquered through dying and being raised again (1 Corinthians 15:57-58).
And even though we are sinners, and deserve nothing but death and condemnation for what we have done, Jesus died for us.
He by whom all things were created died so that we could live (John 1:1-3).
The Author of Life laid His down so that we could live in Him (Acts 3:15, John 10:17, 2 Corinthians 13:4).
He who has all strength took on weakness to deliver us from our own weaknesses (2 Corinthians 13:4).
He who loves beyond measure experienced mockery and derision so that we could be reconciled to God (Matthew 27, Romans 5:11).
The High Priest became the sacrifice so that we could minister to God (Hebrews 7).
And this was all accomplished not because we were holy, not because we were righteous, and not because we deserved it.
It was accomplished despite our sinfulness, despite our unrighteousness, and despite our own lack of love and mercy.
It was finished so that we could learn to love through Jesus Christ. Jesus suffered, and we are to suffer (Romans 8:17). The Word became flesh so that flesh could obey the Word (John 1:14).
Jesus died for sinful man so that man could be restored to His image (Romans 8:29).
When we ponder on these things, it is hard not to be humbled, astonished, and greatly thankful for all that was accomplished despite ourselves.
And it should provide sufficient motivation to go and reflect that love to all men (Matthew 5:13-16)!
Ethan R. Longhenry