When, as a child, I was walking to the park with my grandfather, my younger cousin rushed onto the road and fell in the path of an oncoming car. Instantly, my grandfather threw himself onto the road, grabbed the fallen child and threw him onto the pavement. A screech of brakes, and the vehicle was prevented from taking the life of my grandfather in my cousin’s place.
Such sacrificial love, acting instinctively for the preservation of a loved one, probably hides in most human hearts. Humanly speaking there is no greater love than that which is willing to give its own life for another. The Bible speaks of the possibility that someone will lay down their life for a good or righteous man, but God went much further than this. God made it possible for His enemies to be reconciled and sinners to be forgiven through the voluntary, premeditated sacrifice of His own Son on their behalf on the cross. God did not wait for us to become lovable, but loved us and sent His Son to die for us while we had broken His law, were enemies of His kingdom and rebels against His rule. My grandfather threw himself onto the road, willing to lay down his life for his grandson, but the Lord Jesus Christ willingly placed Himself under God’s judgement and did lay down His life in order that our lives might be saved.
Consider another analogy. A twin brother on the run for murder returns to find that his brother has stood in the dock in his place, borne the sentence passed down and served the time for the crime that he did not commit. The guilty twin has no crime to answer for, the debt to society has been paid. What, other than love for his errant brother, might prompt the innocent to substitute his freedom for that of his brother, taking the punishment that he deserved? In a similar way, Christ stood in the dock for us, pled guilty to our crimes, and was punished on our behalf. What but selfless love could prompt Christ to sacrifice Himself for you and me?
“For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:7,8).
What, then, should be our response to such a demonstration of love? If Christ thinks that you are worth suffering and dying for, surely He is worth trusting with your life and your soul. Just as my young cousin simply accepted the salvation offered from my acrobatic grandfather, we must do the same. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).