Jesus Saves (Romans 5:6-8)
A few years ago, Tammy and I went to watch the 4th of July fireworks on the National Mall. She and I made a list of things we wanted to do over the couple days we were going to be in the nation’s capital: tour the Capitol building, go to Ford’s Theater, go to the Watergate Hotel, and go to Arlington National Cemetery.
Arlington is a very moving experience as you gaze at acres and acres of marble headstones. Tammy and I went to the Kennedy gravesite and then to the memorials for the space shuttles Challenger and Columbia.
The highlight of the trip, however, was the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Tammy and I arrived at the tomb shortly before the changing of the guard ceremony began. A drill sergeant explained to the crowd everything that was about to happen. He ordered everyone to stand and ordered complete silence for the duration of the changing of the guard. Once the ceremony began, a couple kids across from us got bored and sat down—they didn’t stay seated for long! That solemn ceremony deserves respect because it honors soldiers who died to preserve our precious freedoms.
If you’ve never been to Arlington National Cemetery, you need to go. But you’ve surely honored men and women who died for your freedom without traveling to Arlington. You might have lined the road as the funeral procession for a slain deputy passed by. You might have contributed to an organization which serves veterans. You may have thanked a veteran or paid for his meal. You might fly an American flag in front of your home.
Romans 5 reminds us of One who died for us—not because he loved freedom—but because he loves you. The only reason Jesus died for you is the Father’s great love. In this passage, Paul said that we are the scum of the earth, but there is hope because: “Jesus saves sinners.”
Scripture (Romans 5:6-8)
“While we were still weak”
“Weak” is the first word Paul used to demonstrate exactly who we are. The Greek term means helpless. Man must have help to be saved; he is too weak to save himself.
“At the right time”
God sent Jesus to die when the timing was perfect. In his great love, God planned a great deal—he providentially prepared this world so that Jesus died for you at just the right time.
“Christ died for the ungodly”
“Ungodly” is the second word Paul used to demonstrate exactly who we are. The Greek word means to be vile and unholy and to commit sacrilege.
“One will scarcely die for a righteous person”
“Righteous” here doesn’t mean a person who is right before God. Instead, Paul meant a good, moral person. We might call this person the “salt of the earth.”
“Though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die”
In Romans 5, a “good person” makes the world a better place; this person does good for others and is kind, caring, and compassionate.
The Greeks considered laying down one’s life for another as heroic, but that normally only happened in warfare.
“But God shows his love for us”
Back in verse 5, Paul said that “God’s love has been poured into our hearts,” and in verse 8, Paul said how God loved, viz., through action. God demonstrated his love for man by giving his Son for mankind.
“While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”
“Sinners” is the third word Paul used to demonstrate exactly who we are. A sinner is a person who has violated God’s holy will. Although man had violated his will repeatedly, God gave his Son to die for man.
Jesus had to die for man’s sins: “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Heb 9:22). Only through Jesus’s perfect sacrifice can man find forgiveness.
“Jesus saves sinners.”
- We are weak—Unable to save ourselves.
- We are ungodly—Vile and unholy and sacrilegious.
- We are sinners—Violating God’s holy will.
While God looks down from his holy throne and sees people full of sin, he is full of love. Therefore, he sent his Son to die for man. “Jesus saves sinners.” Jesus can save you.
Because “Jesus saves sinners” you must:
See your SIN.
Paul strongly declared how God views sin—sin keeps man from being able to save himself, sin makes man vile and wicked, sin violates God’s holy will, and sin required Jesus’s death.
God has never winked at sin. Before God destroyed the world with water, “the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. . . . And God said to Noah, ‘I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth’” (Gen 6:11, 13). Korah and his cohorts rebelled against Moses and Aaron; God caused the earth to swallow them up (Num 16). King Saul took spoil from the Amalekites God had forbidden him to take; God ripped the kingdom out of his hands (1 Sam 15). Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit; God struck them dead (Acts 5:1-11).
God views sin strongly, but do you? When you sin, do you simply think that you can pray for forgiveness and everything is okay? Or do you understand that you have violated God’s holy will, hurt his heart, and caused Jesus’s death?
You cannot be saved without fully recognizing your sins. Peter proclaimed the Christ to the crowd at Pentecost, and he told them they had killed the Messiah. “Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’” (Acts 2:37). You must get cut to the heart, repent of your sin, and go to Jesus for salvation.
How can you be pricked in the heart? The easiest way is to:
See your SAVIOR.
Paul strongly pointed out sin, but he also pointed to God’s remedy for sin: “At the right time Christ died for the ungodly. . . . God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:6, 8).
If you wish to see your sin, just take a look at Jesus. Get off to yourself and picture Jesus:
- Picture the glory Jesus had with his Father before this world began and then picture his birth in a lowly stable.
- Picture the Last Supper and Jesus’s explaining the bread and the cup to his disciples.
- Picture Jesus’s getting up from supper and washing Judas’ feet.
- Picture Jesus’s looking at Peter, one of his closest friends, and knowing that very night that friend would betray him.
- Picture the Garden, Jesus’s begging his Father for a way out of the cross but humbly submitting to his Father’s will.
- Picture Judas’ leading a band of soldiers to the Garden.
- Picture Judas’ betraying Jesus with a kiss.
- Picture Peter’s cutting off the ear of the high priest’s servant, and picture Jesus’s putting that ear back in place.
- Picture Jesus’s standing before the Sanhedrin and Pilate and Herod for crimes he never committed.
- Picture the soldiers putting a purple robe on Jesus and then falling down in mock worship.
- Picture those soldiers placing a crown of thorns on Jesus’s head and then beating him over the head until those thorns were wedged deep in his skin.
- Picture Jesus’s being blindfolded and hit and spat upon and jeered.
- Picture Jesus’s being taken out, stripped naked, tied to a pole, and then whipped with chords until the flesh hung from his back like ribbons.
- Picture Jesus’s struggling under the weight of the cross as he walked to Golgotha.
- Picture the cross placed on the ground. Picture Jesus stripped and placed on it. Picture a soldier’s nailing spikes through his wrists and feet. Picture that cross hoisted in the air while every nerve fiber in Jesus’s body is screaming in agony you cannot fathom.
- Picture Jesus’ struggling to breathe as he’s suspended between heaven and earth.
- Picture the crowd’s mockery as they said if Jesus could save others he could surely save himself.
- Picture Jesus’s looking at the criminal and offering him peace and Paradise.
- Picture Jesus’s mother gazing up at her Son’s mangled body and Jesus’s looking at her with love.
- Picture Jesus’s looking upon that crowd and saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
- Picture Jesus’s lifting his voice with a triumphant cry and saying, “It is finished” and then bowing his head and saying, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
How can you look at the cross and not despise your sin that put Jesus there? How can you not be filled with determination to follow the Christ who died for you? How can you have an ounce of arrogance or pride? How can you not fall on your knees and cry out, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” How can you not praise and glorify the God of heaven and earth?
Do you need to give Jesus your life this morning and allow him to save you?
This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at Church of Christ Deer Park in Deer Park, Texas.