How do we know God’s love? How did He show us His love? Well the Sunday School answer is Jesus, God’s Son, came to earth and died on the cross for humanity. So what does that look like? What’s the big deal? Let’s walk through Romans 5:7-8 to get a better understanding.
I. Righteous or Good? v7
Paul starts these two verses by saying that most men are not willing to risk their lives for others. But there is more to that. He says, “for rarely will someone die for a just person…”. So what is a “just person”? A just person, other translations say “righteous man”, is someone who obeys the rules. They follow the Law and keep the Commandments. Their actions, attitude, and behaviour are correct and upright. However this person may be cold or follows the rules for the sake of following the rules.
What about the second type of person Paul mentions here in verse 7. “…though for a good person perhaps someone may even dare to die.” What does this “good person” look like? A good person is one who does all the things that the righteous man does, but goes further. This person will act out of love while following the rules, obeying the commandments, etc. This person just isn’t correct, they go beyond being correct. The good person will, because of love, do as Christ instructed in Matthew 5:40-41 “As for the one who wants to sue you and take away your shirt, let him have your coat as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two.” The good person will go the second mile and not even think about it.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones illustrates the difference like this:
A man may play the piano correctly, strike the right note every time, and keep the right time, and yet all you can truthfully say about his playing is that it is just correct. But there is another man who plays the piano and plays the same piece; yet you realize at once that there is something more. He is an artist, he puts life into the performance, he does it in such a way that it moves you and thrills you. The first man was quite correct, but he lacked this extra something that the second man has got. That is the kind of difference between a righteous man and a good man. (Romans: An Exposition of Chapter 5: Assurance, p.121, Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones, ©1971)
First we need to realize that throughout the rest of this chapter Paul is talking about the doctrine of assurance (being sure that your salvation is true and secure in the Lord) to believers. So here, early in the chapter he is reminding these believers of the glory of salvation and in the previous chapter he discussed the glory of justification (the declaring of God that a sinner is righteous before Him because of Christ’s work on the cross). In the previous verse he discussed that scarcely someone might die for a just or righteous person and someone more likely would risk their life for a good person. “You do not find people laying down their lives for a man who is just righteous or correct; but people love a good man and are so attached to him that they say, ‘I would die for him’ (Lloyd-Jones, p.121)”.
Are you good or are you righteous? Well without Christ, before God we are neither. Without Christ we are the third type of person Paul describes in verse 8.
II. Sinner! v8b
Paul continues his argument here by starting with two of the sweetest words in all of Scripture, “But God”. “But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” Such a wonderful verse that should make any believer rejoice and praise God! We are going to look at the second part of the verse first. Paul says that Christ died for us while we were sinners. What is a sinner? A sinner is the exact opposite of the good person and the just person. The word gives itself to moral failure. A sinner has missed the mark and come short, they are an offender without any righteousness.
Paul spend most of the first three chapters of Romans describing the sinful nature of every person on Earth. Those who have never heard of God: sinners. “For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth,” (Romans 1:18). God’s chosen people: sinners. “For circumcision benefits you if you observe the law, but if you are a lawbreaker, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, and true circumcision is not something visible in the flesh. On the contrary, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart — by the Spirit, not the letter. That man’s praise is not from men but from God.” (Romans 2:25,28-29) Those who have heard and turned away: sinners. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”(Romans 3:23) The fate of sinners? Eternal separation from God in a place of eternal torment. What is the remedy for such a disastrous state for humanity? God’s offer of salvation. “They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. God presented Him as a propitiation through faith in His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His restraint God passed over the sins previously committed.” (Romans 3:24-25) The fact is that as believers we were sinners before God, but the wonder of justification is that though we may fail and still sin while we are live in this world God sees us as righteous and holy.
III. God’s Love = Christ’s Death v8a
“But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” Christ’s death was the only way for humanity to be saved. But humanity is so sinful that the there is nothing we can do to make God save us. We cannot save ourselves. We can do no work to change God’s mind or change our stance before Him. God had to act. God put the salvation of humanity on His own shoulders, this burden was His to bear. Why? Because God loves us. We are created in His image, and God loves His creation. God word’s clear, there be a time of judgement on the earth and every person will stand before God to be judged as a sinner or as follower of Christ. “The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
Let’s look what Christ endured to on the cross for our salvation. John 19 gives the account of some the beating (flogging or scourging) as well as the crucifixion of Jesus.
Let’s start with the flogging. Roman flogging was part of the crucifixion, however in the Gospel of John we see that Pilate sent Jesus to be flogged before he passed judgement and gave in to the Jewish leaders. This may have been a way to appease the mob and get out of actually condemning a man he didn’t want to execute. However this didn’t keep the soldiers from mocking Jesus and beat Him cruelly.
The Roman flogging used “a short whip with several single or braided leather thongs of variable lengths, in which small iron balls or sharp pieces of sheep bones were tied at intervals. For scourging, the man was stripped of his clothing, and his hands were tied to an upright post. The back, buttocks, and legs were flogged either by two soldiers (lictors) or by one who alternated positions” (https://www.cbcg.org/scourging-crucifixion.html).
“Deep lacerations, torn flesh, exposed muscles and excessive bleeding would leave the criminal ‘half-dead.’ Death was often the result of this cruel form of punishment though it was necessary to keep the criminal alive to be brought to public subjugation on the cross. The Centurion in charge would order the ‘lictors’ to halt the flogging when the criminal was near death” (http://www.bible-history.com/past/flagrum.html).
“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.”
(Isaiah 53:5 NKJV) Christ was beaten in, probably, the worst way devised by sinful man. After Jesus received this beating the soldiers looking to mock Him before Pilate called for Him again, and knowing Jesus was accused of calling Himself a king placed a purple robe on His back, then placed a crown made of thorns on His head.
“The severe scourging, with its intense pain and appreciable blood loss, most probably left Jesus in a preshock state. Moreover, bleeding from the skin particularly from the capillaries around the sweat glands from severe stress had rendered his skin particularly tender. The physical and mental abuse meted out by the Jews and the Romans, as well as the lack of food, water, and sleep, also contributed to his generally weakened state. Therefore, even before the actual crucifixion, Jesus’ physical condition was at least serious and possibly critical” (https://www.cbcg.org/scourging-crucifixion.html).
After this beating He was lead away to the actual crucifixion. The following is from an article on cbcg.org:
It was customary for the condemned man to carry his own cross from the flogging post to the site of crucifixion outside the city walls. He was usually naked, unless this was prohibited by local customs. Since the weight of the entire cross was probably well over 300 lb. (136 kg), only the crossbar was carried. The crossbar, weighing 75 to 125 lb. (34 to 57 kg), was placed across the nape of the victim’s neck and balanced along both shoulders. Usually, the outstretched arms then were tied to the crossbar. The processional to the site of crucifixion was led by a complete Roman military guard, headed by a centurion. One of the soldiers carried a sign on which the condemned man’s name and crime were displayed. Later, the sign would be attached to the top of the cross. The Roman guard would not leave the victim until they were sure of his death.
Outside the city walls was permanently located the heavy upright wooden post, on which the crossbar would be secured. To prolong the crucifixion process, a horizontal wooden block or plank, serving as a crude seat, often was attached midway down the post.
At the site of execution, by law, the victim was given a bitter drink of wine mixed with myrrh (gall) as a mild pain reliever. The criminal was then thrown to the ground on his back, with his arms outstretched along the crossbar. The hands could be nailed or tied to the crossbar, but nailing apparently was preferred by the Romans. The nails were tapered iron spikes approximately 5 to 7 in (13 to 18 cm) long with a square shaft 3/8 in (1 cm) across. The nails commonly were driven through the wrists rather than the palms.
After both arms were fixed to the crossbar, the crossbar and the victim, together, were lifted onto the post. Next, the feet were fixed to the cross, either by nails or ropes. Nailing was the preferred Roman practice. Although the feet could be fixed to the sides of the post or to a wooden footrest, they usually were nailed directly to the front of the post. To accomplish this, flexion of the knees may have been quite prominent, and the bent legs may have been rotated outward.
When the nailing was completed, the sign was attached to the cross, by nails or cords, just above the victim’s head. The soldiers and the civilian crowd often taunted and jeered the condemned man, and the soldiers customarily divided up his clothes among themselves. The length of survival generally ranged from three or four hours to three or four days and appears to have been inversely related to the severity of the scourging. However, even if the scourging had been relatively mild, the Roman soldiers could hasten death by breaking the legs below the knees.
The horrid death on a cross was an excruciating death. What Christ did to provide the only way of salvation for humanity was to die in one of the worst of forms of execution in the ancient world. This is why Paul in Philippians 2 says “He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death — even to death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8).
God’s love for humanity and His desire to save His creation from the curse of sin was to send Jesus, His own Son, to die a horrendous death at the hands of sinners. The only way to God is accept this gift of salvation.
If you don’t know if you have accepted God’s gracious gift of salvation then follow this link for an explanation of how you can know for certain from Dr David Jeremiah or this link to walk down the “Romans Road” on biblegateway.com.
Another sermon I originally did during my college interniship in Colorado in 2010. I have updated and adjusted it slightly. As we are getting closer to this year’s Passover and Easter celebration I thought this was an appropriate one to post.
Has anyone ever participated in a Passover Celebration? Even a Christianized version? I have once in college. My wife and I celebrated with some friends at school, one of whom used to be a Messianic Jew. Passover is a lot of fun. But do you realize that this Jewish celebration is where our Lord established the Lord’s Table? We need to realize that to understand the Lord’s Table we need to understand Passover.
I. The Passover is a reminder to Israel vv 17-25
We see in the text that Jesus and His disciples were in Jerusalem for the Feast of Unleavened Bread, better known as Passover. On a side note since Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper whil ecelebrating the Passover where only unleavened bread (bread with no yeast) that at any communion service only unleavened bread should be used in the elements. We see in a parallel passage (Luke 22) that Peter and John, two of the inner-circle, were sent to make the preparations for the feast that night. Now if you are like me you can get in the habit of thinking that just because one verse says this and the next is the next part you assume that it happened really quickly. But we need to remember that the Gospels are narrative, historical books. When it says the Peter and John went to prepare for the Passover meal that was no small task especially on the day of the meal. You all know what goes on in planning and purchasing a big celebratory meal like Christmas dinner or Thanksgiving. Try doing all that on Thanksgiving Day. Now the disciples had it easier, there was no planning and wondering what they were going to make, it was an issue of will the shops have what they need. Peter and John had their hands full. They had to find the place that the Lord had told them about, then go buy the unleavened bread, the herbs, the wine, find a perfect lamb, take that lamb to the temple, have it’s blood sprinkled on the altar, have the lamb roasted whole, then the feast would be ready.
I want to take some time and explain the modern Passover, not that it was changed that much. Now must of us know that Passover was instituted with Moses during the tenth plague against Egypt when the Lord caused the death of the firstborn in the houses that did not have the blood on the doorframe. The Passover celebration is a time of remembrance of that event The exodus story is told throughout the meal. At chabad.org is an in-depth explanation of the Seder. I should mention that the afikomen was probably not started until after the AD 70 when the Romans destroyed the temple in Jerusalem. For more information on the afikomen check this article at chosenpeople.com. The afikomen bag as three compartments. Besides the lamb did you notice Christ? Christ’s death, burial and act of redemption was shown with the afikomen.
Except for the afikomen this is what Jesus and His disciples were in the middle of when our Lord made a stating announcement, verse 21. Verse 22 says that the disciples “deeply distressed”. Could that be the understatement of the millennia? Surprisingly though, they did not start to accuse and point fingers at one another, they simply asked “Lord is it I?” Jesus gave an unusual answer to identify the traitor, verse 23. What is Jesus saying? Probably, since they were in the middle of the Passover Seder this was referring to one of the bowls, salt water, bitter herbs, or charoset. And I would imagine that since there was 13 people eating this meal they probably had a couple of bowls of each on the table for people to share. So probably what happened was that Judas, since he was sitting on the Christ’s left hand which is a place of honor, shared one of those bowls with our Lord.
Verse 24 is a good example of God’s sovereignty and human responsibility. Even though, through prophets of old, God foretold that Jesus would be betrayed, Judas was still responsible for his own sin. We may never, as humans, understand how these coexist, but they do. I can picture the room, the eleven have asked “Lord is it I,” Judas has been silent, Christ has identified him and then Judas asks, “Rabbi is it I?” Notice the change in words there. The eleven called Jesus “Lord”, but Judas called Him “Rabbi” which is different. He called Jesus Master or Teacher, but he didn’t call Him Lord. In John’s account, Jesus tells Judas to go do what he had to quickly (John 13:27). And the eleven didn’t understand exactly what was going on. I think they may have been in shock that they had a traitor, or they just didn’t understand, but for whatever reason they didn’t try to stop Judas from leaving. After Judas had left, Jesus continues the Seder, but adds something new to it for His disciples.
II. The Lord’s Table is a reminder to the Church vv 26-30
Christ interrupted the process of the Seder slightly. After they recite the first part of the Hallel, they have the meal. Today, the afikomen is done right after the meal, but at the Last Supper Christ instituted the communion here. He took a piece of the unleavened bread said the specific blessing over the bread which is “Blessed are You, O Lord our God, ruler of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.” He then said, “Eat, this is my body.”
In verses 27 and 28 we see Jesus adding something new to the third cup of the Seder called the cup of redemption. Again, Jesus said a specific prayer over the cup, the same blessing that is said over all the cups during the Seder. This blessing is, “Blessed are You, O Lord our God, ruler of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine” He then said, “Drink…this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” What’s this new covenant that He is talking about? The eleven disciples that were still there knew what covenant He was talking about, whether or not they realized what He was saying is unknown, but because these were Jewish men their minds went right back to the prophets.
This covenant is found primarily in Jeremiah 31. Now put your finger in Matthew and turn to Jeremiah 31 and will take a look at what this is talking about. Jeremiah 31:31-34. Verses 35-40 I’ll just summarize quickly for you, God is assuring the people that the nation will stand forever through a few metaphors. But the part I want to focus on is verse 31-34.
Verse 31 starts with a phrase common in Jeremiah. He says the that “the days are coming” in Jeremiah this is a reference to the Messianic age. God is specific as to who this new covenant is with, it is with the houses of Israel and Judah. Notice how God unites the people even though they have divided the kingdom. This is a promise to every Jewish person. You’re probably wondering what makes this new and what was the old covenant?
Verse 32 tells us what covenant becomes the old one. Understand that national covenants do not die of old age, or become voided when a new covenant is made. God is just making some changes. The old covenant is the Mosaic Law. That covenant was established not just at Mt Sinai, but also with the physical redemption from Egypt and the blood of lambs. A covenant usually has two parties where each agree to do something for the completion of the covenant. With the Old Covenant the people of Israel agreed to follow the Law and in return God would bless them. This new covenant is different as the people don’t have to agree to anything. God promises to do everything in this covenant. Well what is in the covenant? Look at verse 33.
God says that He will put His law in the mind of the people and write it on their hearts, that’s so they will never forget it. They don’t need to worry about breaking it anymore. God uses a familiar term, “I will be their God and they shall be My people,” God is showing that the relational part of the covenant is not going away. God wants the personal relationship with each of His people and He wants them to treat Him as they should. Verse 34 continues the covenant. This verse starts with a new element. People are not going to have to be instructed about the Lord, everyone will know who He is. There will be no need for Bible studies, for every person will “know the Lord”. There will be no need for any outward instruction by man, the Spirit will be instructing from within. The Lord then says in the second half of the verse that He will forgive the people’s sin and will not remember it anymore.
This covenant is what came to the mind of the eleven in the upper room that night. Whether or not they realized that it would be ushered in with Christ’s death the next day, I don’t know. But we see that in Acts chapter 2 these spiritual blessings began to be poured out. There is a debate in the theological world between Covenant Theologians and Dispensationalists about how much of the new covenant the church actually participates in. But even in Dispensationalism, there is a difference of opinion about this. There are some who think we participate in New Covenant like blessings as Christians and there are some who think we are actually participating in some of the spiritual blessings. I tend to believe that we participate in some of these blessings. Now you’re asking, “okay, so what are these blessing that we do participate in?” Well, obviously we still have teachers and preachers so the promise of not having to say, “Know the Lord” is not fulfilled yet. So, what do we have? Renald Showers in his book, There Really is a Difference lists them, “Church believers have been regenerated, received forgiveness of sin, been indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and received the new nature” p 104. Even though the Old Testament presented the New Covenant to literal, national Israel the Church partakes in it. This is not to say that the Church is Israel, we are distinct, or that Israel is not going to receive any of these blessings. This covenant will be fulfilled completely in the Millennium. Israel did not enter into the covenant with the first coming of the Messiah but it will at the second coming.
Returning to Matthew 26 we pick up at verse 29. This verse, I’m really not sure what Christ is saying, I tend to believe that He is saying that He will not partake of the Lord’s Table or Passover or something like it until the Millennium. Verse 30. This is the second part of the Hallel, they probably sang Psalm 118, then drank the fourth cup, the cup of praise then went to the Mount of Olives.
Just as the Passover feast was a reminder to Israel, so is the Lord’s Table a reminder to the Church. It reminds us what God did for sinful man, but it is also a reminder that Christ is coming again we will enter into an age with national Israel where everybody sins will be forgiven, Israel will see the fulfilled covenant and accept their Messiah.
For more information on the Christ in the Passover check out these ministries.