This morning on my way to work, I was praising the Lord for being such a wonderful and mighty Savior. I declared this biblical truth: There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. And Jesus did just that — he laid down His life for us so that we may live.
Except that we were not His friends. We were sinners — enemies of Jesus. Yet, while we were still sinners, Jesus died for us. Prior to His crucifixion, Jesus made these comments, “If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that?;” “If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else?;” “I say, love your enemies!” And then when He was crucified for us — His enemies — Jesus acted out what He preached: love your enemies.
Who can comprehend this? What kind of love is this? It’s one thing to grasp dying for a friend; it’s quite another thing to fathom dying for an enemy.
In reflecting on this, I remembered a student organization fair I attended in college. At these fairs, all the college organizations set up booths, and the students mill around, deciding which clubs to join. You have church clubs, language clubs, political clubs, athletic clubs, social clubs . . .
And the Bug Club. I rounded the corner and just about jumped out of my skin. This student shoved the most reviling Texas-sized cockroach in my face and enthusiastically asked, “Wanna join the Bug Club?! We study the most amazing creatures!!!” I stifled a shriek and was about to emphatically decline the invitation when I stopped — stunned, perplexed, and speechless. The student was a beautiful, feminine, nicely dressed coed. How could she even stand these things? How could she be so excited about them? What in the world???
But see, we are like that Texas-sized cockroach, and Jesus is like that coed. Our sin makes us utterly repulsive and reviling to the perfect, holy Almighty God. And yet, He loves us so much that He paid the ultimate price to take away our repulsiveness and make us like Him — holy and blameless. He delights in us, and He is enthusiastic about us. And He always has been — the Bible tells us that even when Jesus walked the earth, he often invited disreputable sinners — the worst of the worst — to dinner. And then He defended Himself to critics with comments like “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do” and “I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”
His love continues to confound me — what in the world? I don’t fully get it, but I accept it. I am as comfortable as that cockroach in the palm of that coed’s hand.