I have memorized many Bible verses in my lifetime. But one of the first passages I memorized was this one, and though I haven’t really tried to recite it in some time, I’m pretty sure I can still get it word for word (although maybe not the punctuation).
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man, someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
A few punctuation mistakes, and a missed capitalization, but other than that, pretty good if I do so say so myself. 🙂
So many things struck me about that passage way back when and still do now.
It wasn’t as though God did for us something that we could do ourselves. We could not save ourselves. We were drowning in our sin, with no escape, no life preserver, no boat in sight. We were powerless. In spite of all that, we weren’t even searching for help, no less searching for God. Yet though our backs were set firmly against him, God sent Jesus to die for our sins that reconciliation between us might be made possible.
Very rarely will a person die for a “morally correct person,” such as a Pharisee. One who keeps the rules and looks down on anyone who doesn’t. Some people, though, might die for a “good guy.” A person that is kind and caring.
But we were neither “morally correct” nor “good guys.” We had rebelled against God, turning our backs on him, and living our own way. And by doing things our own way, we hurt God, we hurt others, and we even hurt ourselves. Yet God didn’t simply turn his back on us and say (literally), “To hell with you.”
Instead, he came down as a man and died in our place.
That’s what grace is all about. That though we deserved nothing good from God, indeed, though all we deserved was punishment, nevertheless, he loved us and reached out in love to save us.
And it’s the grace that God grants to us who believe in him. We who are guilty. We who are unworthy of his love. We who have been utterly stained by sin. We who were wretches before him. It truly is, as the song says, amazing grace.
How sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me,
I once was lost,
But now I’m found.
Was blind but now I see.