Great Gospel Texts: Romans 5:8

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”[1]

Are you worth dying for? Would the sacrifice of another’s life for yours be worthwhile? The first three chapters of Romans are a review of the human record, and the conclusion of an impartial and all-knowing Judge is stark in its condemnation: “None is righteous, no, not one … no one does good, not even one” (3:10,12). The answer to the question is indisputably this: “No! I am not worthy of the sacrifice of another.”

In Romans chapter 5 the question gets turned around: For whom or for what ideal would you be willing to die? In verse 7 Paul answers that it is rare to consider self-sacrifice for a morally upright person. It is perhaps only a little more likely to consider self-sacrifice for a good person or cause. The unspoken implication is that if it is rare to die for a worthy person, it is unthinkable to die for someone unworthy.

We understand sacrifice, especially the ultimate sacrifice of one’s life, in the light of the value of who or what will be saved. We pause on Remembrance Day to think of soldiers who died to stop tyranny or preserve peace. We define this as a worthy sacrifice, lives given for a noble cause. When a life is given for people or for an ideal in which we don’t see value, at best we call it a waste, at worst suicide, a futile sacrifice.

Thus, it is hard to comprehend God’s love for us because it is so different from how we love and sacrifice. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (v8). We are not loved when we do something worthy of God’s love, like obeying Him, but we are loved while still sinners, loved even while unwilling and unable to reciprocate God’s love. In no way are we good people for whom “one would dare even to die” (v7). That is the unmistakable message of Romans 5:8: God loves you and me, now, in the present. He proved it through the sacrifice of His own precious-to-Him Son, Jesus Christ.

God thinks you are worth dying for, and God did what you and I would never do: He gave Himself for someone who by His own measure is unworthy. Jesus Christ died for me. What about you? Your worth to God is measured by the sacrifice He gave for you, not by what you do for God. The death of Jesus Christ is the proof of the immeasurable, mind-blowing fact that God loves you. On a cross, outside Jerusalem, Jesus Christ declared that you are worth dying for. The only appropriate response is to repent of your sin and trust Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour.

[1] All Scripture quotations in this article are from the ESV.