“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:6-8
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, he made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” – Ephesians 2:4-9
I would like to end this devotional by looking at two passages. Both of these passages remind us of our own incapability. We have not nor will ever be strong enough to save ourselves or to do any of the things God is able (such as create or be eternally holy). We are in constant need of God and it is only by his grace that our needs are filled. The first passage (Romans 5:6-8) is one that I don’t think receives much attention and the second of which (Ephesians 2:4-9) is one of my favorite passages (if not, my favorite passage) in all of Scripture.
To start, Romans 5:6 already shows us that we are weak. On top of that, verse 7 states: “one will scarcely die for a righteous person.” I think we need to step back and appreciate this a little bit more. Sometimes, the idea of dying for another person might be romanticized where, when placed in a hypothetical situation, a person might say that he or she would die for a family member or someone that is of great importance. However, verse 8 takes this much further: “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
I want to just pause for a second to recognize that there is no way that we could ever replicate or completely resonate with the type of love that God shows here. God performs the highest act of love, not to those that have loved him first, but to people rebelling against him. There is no human relationship where we could love as much as God loves nor experience betrayal to the same extent that we have betrayed God. This simply cannot be emphasized enough. We could spend a long amount of time listing examples from the Old Testament when people had rebelled against God. From this study alone, we looked at Adam and Eve (Genesis 3), Abram (Genesis 16), Israel (ie. Exodus 32, Numbers 14, or Judges), and the plethora of kings of Israel and Judah. We have never been deserving of the love that God shows for us. In fact, to show the relationship between God and Israel, God tells one of his prophets, Hosea, to take an unfaithful whore as his wife. Ezekiel 23 shows us the unfaithfulness of the people of Judah and Israel through an explicit metaphor of two daughters whom prostitute themselves. These metaphors are painfully significant as they demonstrate how God perceives our sins toward him. The love that God has for us is deep, authentic, and real. It is far greater than forgiving the parent that left the family, or the DUI driver that killed someone’s son or daughter, or the spouse that cheated.
Nothing we could ever do could amount to the love that has been demonstrated to us by God, especially since God’s grace toward us is twofold! God not only created us and gave us existence but also saved us and forgave us of our transgressions against him. Either of these alone makes God worthy of eternal praise, honor, and glory. The fact that we have both should make us simply dumbfound. We, as humanity, need to understand that we are no superhero, neither individually nor communally. We are not the main character that is going to save the day. We are the ones in desperate need of saving. Thus, in conclusion to this advent devotional, I want to remind us of the significance of Jesus in the narrative of salvation. Despite being made in goodness, we found ourselves deprived at our own fault, unable to determine right from wrong and separated from God. We needed salvation because we are unable to provide it for ourselves and we have proved this multiple times throughout human history. Then, in his loving-kindness, God the Son became Incarnate in order to live the perfect life, die as the blameless sacrifice to provide justice, and rise in victory over evil. This is the significance of Emmanuel, “God with us.”