Romans 5:6-8, “6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Our Father in heaven has poured into the hearts of all who are in Christ His love for them (Rom. 5:5). He has convinced us of His love for us, and by this He fosters in us the will to persevere. Yet we cannot view the love of our Creator as merely subjective, as something that we are only convinced of inwardly. Instead, as the Apostle Paul reveals in today’s passage, the love of our God has an objective component as well. He has not only made us feel or know of His love within our hearts, but He has also displayed that love in the most tangible way possible—by sending His Son to die for us (vv. 6–8).
There is much for us to consider as we reflect on Jesus’ death as an objective revelation of the love of God. First, this death occurred “at the right time” (v. 6). Elsewhere, Paul speaks of the Father sending forth His Son to live and die for His people “in the fullness of time” (Gal. 4:4), which means that Christ came at the most suitable time in history for Him to come. The second person of the Holy Trinity became incarnate at the time God had appointed in eternity past, at the moment of history for which the Lord had been preparing through His revelation to the prophets. Yet while this conception is involved in Paul’s statement that Jesus died “at the right time” in today’s passage, it does not exhaust what the Apostle is saying. There is an additional layer of meaning that we should not miss. The right time of Christ’s death was “while we were still weak” (Rom. 5:6). Jesus did not wait for us to have everything together, to be righteous before He died. Indeed, if we were righteous, it would have been the wrong time for Him to die, for righteous people have no need of an atonement. Christ died for the ungodly—our sin necessitated His sacrifice, and even before we truly understood that, Jesus paid the price to reverse our fallen condition.
Jesus’ death for us while we were still sinners is the most incredible proof of God’s love imaginable. As Paul notes in Romans 5:7–8, it is barely possible that people will die for a good person, though it does happen. Even when one sinner dies for another, however, it is still an imperfect person dying for another imperfect individual. If this is so, and if it is so incredible when one mere man dies for another, how much more amazing is it when the perfect God-man dies for those who are fallen, for those who hate Him? The depth of love that this takes is hardly fathomable. All we can do is think on it in silent awe, seeing that the Lord gave up so much for the redemption of people who are not deserving of it at all.
It is not merely that the perfect God-man died for imperfect people, though such is true as far as it goes. Instead, the perfect God-man died for those who hated His perfection, for those who were openly hostile to Him and refused to seek His perfect glory (Rom. 3:9–18). If it is so hard for us as sinners to love our enemies, what kind of love must God have to love His enemies in such a way? Full adoration is the only appropriate response to a God of such love.