Wednesday, February 11, 2015
“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6 KJV).
The fourth verse of John Newton’s classic 1779 hymn “In Evil Long I Took Delight” highlights today’s Scripture.
“My conscience felt and owned the guilt,
And plunged me in despair,
I saw my sins His blood had spilt,
And helped to nail Him there.”
Throughout history, Jews have been derogatorily called “the Christ-killers.” While Scripture emphatically affirms Jews rejected their Messiah Jesus, it also says that Gentiles participated in Jesus’ death: Israel wanted the Lord Jesus dead and Rome carried out the death penalty (Psalm 2:1-3; cf. Acts 4:25-28). Calvary was a national and an international conspiracy. Not only so, it was a personal issue—we all played a role in Calvary. It was our sins that sent Jesus Christ to that awful cross: as it is said, “Our hands held the hammers that drove the spikes into His hands and feet!”
It was in God’s grand design to use Israel’s rejection of Messiah and Rome’s rejection of Messiah to bring about the death of Messiah: “For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done” (Acts 4:28). “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” (Acts 2:23). Now, with Paul’s revelation, we can see the full picture (what God saw all along but only now discloses to us): “[Jesus Christ] Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God” (Romans 3:25). It was Father God who ultimately killed Jesus Christ, who shed His blood for our forgiveness (Colossians 1:14).
Rather than beating ourselves up with guilt and shame, we need to trust Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork where He took our guilt and shame and covered them with His sinless blood. No, He did not die for the righteous, but for the weak and ungodly (today’s Scripture). He died for us, those who, like Saul of Tarsus, delight in evil….