“Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die.” vs. 7
Some theologian types through the years have put forward the notion that Jesus’ death was a sacrifice that takes away the sin of the world. Now they can certainly find verses in scripture to back their position; indeed, there are many parallels that can be made between the Jewish sacrificial system and Jesus’ death on the cross. Unfortunately the sacrificial understanding of the atonement has not been helpful for questioning followers of Jesus. Many such persons are convinced that the best way to understand the cross is as an act of love. That seems to be Paul’s point as he writes to the Romans. Jesus gave his life, not as a sacrifice, but as an act of love, and he did it even for sinners. He died not to affirm the efficacy of the sacrificial system, but to abolish it! Forgiveness is accomplished not through the shedding of blood to appease an angry God, but through the unconditional and merciful love of God. Yes, the cross is the mark of forgiveness in the church, but it’s also a mark of God’s love. Forgiveness was a part of Jesus’ ministry long before he died–nothing magical happened on the cross. Love was there too, and it was love that ultimately brought Jesus to the cross. And it’s also what brings us to Jesus!
Thought for the Day: For whom would I be willing to die?