the following is a contineuation of series on Romans and I hope this chapter will answer the question on compassion of Jesus. I have put other series in thoughts.
Romans Chapter 9 God's Unconditional Love We discovered, in our last study, that justification by faith, which is the theme of that great epistle of Paul to the Romans, is not just a theory or a philosophy. It is a truth that must be experienced. We also discovered that this experience of justification by faith produces the threefold fruits in our lives. First, justification by faith brings us peace with God. In Romans 5:1, Paul says, “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God.” We have this peace because our status has changed from condemnation to justification. The moment we accept Jesus Christ as our Saviour, we pass from death to life and that, of course, brings us peace with God, the peace that passes understanding. God does not only forgive us when we accept Christ as our Saviour. Not only does He reconcile us through Christ but we are looked upon by God just as if we have never sinned. God looks at us just as He looks at His Son, Jesus Christ. Remember what God said to His Son at His baptism, recorded in Matthew 3:17, announcing to the world: “Here is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” This is exactly what He says to those who, by faith, have received Christ and are now standing on the platform, under the umbrella, of justification by faith. Secondly, justification by faith brings us the experience of power. Paul tells us in Romans 5:2 that those who have peace through justification by faith also have access to the grace of God. Here the word “grace” means the power of God given to the believers to fulfill God's purpose in each of their lives. It is the power that we use to withstand temptation and to produce, in our lives, God's will so that we, as Christians, may behave as children of God. We believers are standing in grace, not only in terms of our standing before God's law, which is righteousness, but we also have available to us the power of God that is able to transform our lives. This is something the unbeliever does not have. Finally, the third experience, is one that God wants each one of us to have. This is the experience of the love of God. The ultimate goal of the experience of justification by faith, is that the love of God be shed abroad in our hearts through our Lord, Jesus Christ. This third and ultimate fruit of justification by faith is so radical, so revolutionary, so unlike any human experience, that Paul devotes verses 6 to 10 of Romans 5 talking about, explaining and expounding on, the love of God shed abroad in the heart of the believer. This is the love that the world needs to see. It is a love that totally contradicts human love. So Paul wants us, the believers, to understand what kind of love is shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. He explains this in verses 6 to 10 in Romans 5 which we will study now. Paul is explaining the love of God, not by comparing but by contrasting it with human love. The two loves—God's love which every believer should experience and human love which we have by nature—are absolutely opposites. In fact, when the New Testament writers described this love of God, they chose a very unique word, a word in the noun form, which was rarely found in the secular Greek. This word was so revolutionary that the enemies of the gospel accused the disciples of turning the world upside down. This word is “agape” for which there is no English equivalent. In fact, our word “love” in the English language with all its noble characteristics which we call love not only does a tremendous injustice to the Greek word “agape” but it totally contradicts it. Paul's concern in this passage is that we believers understand this love of God. There are two reasons for this: (1) When we have the love of God, then, and only then, have we fully understood justification by faith. We can then experience, in the fullest sense, the peace of God. The ground of our justification, the basis of our salvation, is God's love and this is also, therefore, the ground of our peace with God. It is only as we Christians are rooted and grounded in God's love, as Paul explains it in Ephesians 3:17, that we will be settled in the truth of the gospel and we will really understand what peace is. We will be able to stand the pressures of this wicked world because once we have peace with God, nothing else matters. (2) Secondly, Paul wants us to understand the love of God and shed it abroad to our neighbors that the world may know that we are Christians. The greatest demonstration in our lives that we are justified by faith is that our fellow men see in our interaction, between human beings, the love of God. In order for that love to be manifested in our lives, we need to understand this love of God. With this background, notice, in Romans 5:6 to 10, that verses 6, 8, 9 and 10 describe the love of God in contrast to verse 7 which is a description of human love. We will look at the difference so that we may understand the true meaning of God's love. One of the problems Christians, have is that we project human love on to God. When we do this, we distort not only God's character but also the gospel of Jesus Christ. In this passage, there are four words to notice that deal with the love of God in terms of our salvation. Two of these are found in verse 6: “For when we were still without strength.” (NKJV) The Greek here means when we were still helpless, incapable of saving ourselves. “In due time (that is, in the appointed time), Christ died for the ungodly.” The two are “helpless (without strength) and ungodly (while we were unlike God, while we were contrary to God's character).” We are told that while we were in this condition, Jesus died for the ungodly. He died while we were helpless. So, immediately, we discovered that the love of God is unconditional. This is such a radical and revolutionary concept of God's love that Paul wants to show us this love, not by comparing but by contrasting it to human love. In verse 7, Paul says, referring to human love: “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.” (NKJV) Paul says that people do not usually give their lives for a bad man. Human beings have been known to lay down their lives for a good man, for their loved ones or even for their country. But when it comes to God's love, it is the very opposite. It is very likely that verse 7 is describing a Greek myth that was familiar to the people of Paul's day. A story in Greek mythology was told about two young people. The young man was a good citizen but for some reason he was falsely accused by the judge and sentenced to death. His girlfriend knew that he was a good man, innocent and did not deserve to die. So, she went to the judge, told him that the young man did not deserve to die but since the sentence could not be changed by Greek law she was willing to die in his place. The judge accepted this and the Greeks said, “This is the epitome of genuine love. Here is a woman who is willing to die for a good man.” But, in verse 8, Paul says that while it is possible for human beings to die for a good cause or for loved ones or for a good person even though this is not common, God's love is in complete contrast to this kind of love. Jesus did not die on the cross for somebody who is good. He did not die for good people but God “commended (demonstrated) his own love towards us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (3) First, we were helpless; second we were ungodly and now, in verse 8, Paul tells us that while we were sinners, Christ died for us. Can we see the difference? God does not say to you that “If you are good, I will send My Son to die for your sins.” No! While we were yet sinners, while we were helpless, while we were still ungodly, Christ died for us. Paul says that God's love for us is unconditional which is a complete contradiction of human love which is conditional. In Romans 5:9, the next verse, he says, “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood (that is, by His death), we shall be saved from wrath through him.” (NKJV) Notice, this text is dealing with believers, those of us who have accepted Jesus Christ and are now standing under the umbrella of justification by faith. Paul says, “If God loves us and He died for us, while we were still ungodly, while we were still helpless, while we were still sinners, why are you Christians, why are you believers, doubting the love of God? Why are you doubting your justification? Don't you realize that, if God loved you when you were a sinner, He loves you even more now that you have accepted Him and have come back to Him and now stand in favor with Him? How much more do you have to be sure that God will save you now that you have accepted justification by faith? Why are you doubting, Christian?” It is a tragedy that there are Christians who doubt their salvation. They are not sure if they will make it to heaven. When we project human love on to God, this is the result. We become unsure about our salvation because human love is conditional. It has to be aroused. It depends on goodness. “You have to be good to me, if I have to be good to you.” Because of this false idea of God's love, we think that we have to be good before God accepts us. This is why we think we have to produce love for each other by incentives, by doing good acts. This is our human problem. But, thank God, He loves us in spite of what we are. He loves us unconditionally. He loves us because He is love, not because we deserve it. Paul says, “Much more” now that we have accepted justification by faith, through His blood, that is, through His sacrifice, we can be sure, it is guaranteed, that our salvation is secure in Christ. Why? Because He who died for us will make sure that He will defend us and vindicate us until He takes us to heaven. This is true as long as we are justified by faith and we are not depending on ourselves. Then, in Romans 5:10, Paul continues, using the fourth word that we should take note of. He has mentioned that we were helpless, ungodly and sinners. Now Paul says in verse 10: “For if when we were enemies (that is, enemies of God, while we were God's enemies, while we were still His enemies) we were reconciled.” Note the verb. Not, “we will be reconciled” but “we were reconciled” to God through the death of His Son. “Much more, having been justified (reconciled), we shall be saved by His life.”(NKJV) God is on our side! He was on our side before we ever turned to Him. While we were enemies, God sent His Son to this world to save this rebellious world. God said to His Son, “I want you to go down and save the world even though they deserve condemnation.” We read in John 3:17, God sent His Son, not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. Now, having expounded this passage, we will look at the context. Why does Paul explain the love of God? He explains this unique love of God in Romans 5:6 to 10 because this is his explanation of verse 5. We need to keep in our minds what Paul said to us in Romans 5:5: “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (NKJV) What does this mean to us? How does it affect us? This should affect us in at least two ways. (1) First, we have a God who loves us unconditionally, a God whose love is unchangeable. Human love differentiates from God's love in at least three ways: (a) Human love is conditional. It is reciprocal “I love you, if you will love me.” In contrast, God's love is unconditional. This is the first difference. (b) Secondly, human love is changeable. Human beings know how to love but their love is not everlasting. This is one reason we have so much divorce. But God's love is unchangeable. “The fact that you love me today is no guarantee that you will love me to-morrow.” This is human love. But God's love never changes. We read in Jeremiah 31:3 the statement God made to the rebellious Israelites: “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” In 1 Corinthians 13:8, Paul defines the beautiful word “agape.” He says agape never fails. In John 13:1, we read that, having loved them, He loved them to the very end. (c) Lastly, human love is self-seeking. At the heart of all human love is self. This is our nature, born egocentric. This is the result of the Fall of Adam and Eve. We have sinful natures that do not know how to love others unconditionally. God's love is self-giving. It is the very opposite of human love. God's love is a love that empties itself of self. In Philippians 2:6 to 8, we read about the kinosis, the self-emptying love of God. Jesus, here, was equal with God but He did not hold on to that equality. He emptied Himself and stepped down and down and down until He became obedient even to the death of the cross. On the cross, Christ had two choices. He could choose between Himself or the world. If we read Luke 23:35 to 39, we will discover that the devil came to Christ three times while He hung on the cross, once through the soldiers, once through the priest and once through the thief hanging on the left-hand side of Him. Three times the devil came with a temptation that was so fierce we will never understand it. The temptation was: “Come down from the cross and save Yourself.” We know Jesus could have done that. He could have grasped hold of His divine power, independent of the Father, come down from the cross and saved Himself. But, had He done that, the world would be lost because Christ could not save the world and Himself at the same time. He had to make a choice and the choice was “Shall I save the world and accept the wages of sin, God-abandonment, good-bye to life forever or shall I come down from the cross and let the rebellious world that has crucified Me, die.?” The choice He made is that He would die that we might live. This is the demonstration Paul mentions in Romans 5:8: “While we were still sinners, God demonstrated His own unconditional love for us that Jesus laid down His life for us.” (2) The second way the love of God affects us is that it is the kind of love God wants us to shed abroad to our neighbors. The world needs to see the love of God. We have seen this love in the face of Jesus Christ. But Christ is no longer in this world. He is in heaven where nobody can see Him. But His body, the church, is here on this earth. It is God's desire that the world see a demonstration of this unconditional, unchanging, self-emptying love of God through His people, the believers. In Romans 5:6 to 10, Paul simply says what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount. If we read Matthew 5:43 to 48, Jesus does exactly what Paul is doing here in Romans 5:6 to 10. Jesus contrasts human love with God's love. He says this divine love is the kind of love that Christians should reflect in their Christian living. In Matthew 5:14 and 16, Jesus said that we believers are the light of the world. In verse 16, He says to let this light shine. Let this love of God in us, which represents Christ, shine that men may see our good works and glorify God in heaven. In Matthew 5:43, Jesus describes the love taught by the Pharisees and the Scribes of His day. Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemies. This is typical human love. But, Jesus said, In contrast, I say to you, Love your enemies bless those that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which do spitefully use and persecute you.” (KJV) In other words, the love that we Christians must reflect in our lives is God's love. This is something that we cannot do naturally. Man cannot, even if he uses his own willpower and effort, love his enemies. This is an impossibility. But the love of God is made available to the believer because he has, dwelling in him, the Holy Spirit. This Spirit brings with Him the love of God. In Matthew 5:45, Jesus explained that, when we love your enemies, we are behaving like the children of God so that we may be the sons of our Father in heaven. The Father makes the sun to rise on the evil and the good. He sends rain on the just and the unjust. God's love is unconditional. So must our love be. An example is found in the Exodus, God delivered His people in a miraculous way. As they traveled through that great Sinai Peninsula desert, it was hot in the daytime; it was cold at night . So, in the night time He warmed them as a pillar of fire. In the daytime, He kept them cool by a cloud canopy over them. But what does Hebrews 3 and 4 say about God's evaluation of the Jews of the Exodus? Was He pleased with them? The answer is, “No.” He was not pleased with them, yet He blessed them. Why? Because God's love is unconditional. Jesus said, in Matthew 5: “If you love your neighbor, if you love your friend, you are no different from the tax collector.” Here, the tax collector refers to sinners. Even the atheist loves his own friends. But Jesus said in Matthew 5:48: “Be ye therefore perfect.” In other words, “Let your love be without discrimination. Let it be unconditional like your Father's love towards you that the world may see that you are My disciples.” This is what Jesus said in John 13:34 and 35. He told His disciples that they must love each other as He loved them. Then in John 13:35, Jesus made this statement: “By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another.” (NAS) This agape love reproduced in the believer, is the greatest demonstration of what true Christianity is. Jesus said, through John in 1 John 4:7 and 12 that this love comes from God and when we love as God loves, it is proof that God is dwelling in us and we in Him. As we conclude this wonderful passage, it is clear, God gives this agape love, not that it may return back to Him. He gives us this agape love, through the Holy Spirit, that it may be shed horizontally to our neighbors so that when the world sees this love, they will know that we are His disciples. There is a pagan philosopher who was the son of a Lutheran pastor. He left the Christian church, became an atheist and this is what he said to the Christian church. “If you Christians expect me to believe in your Redeemer, you will have to look a lot more redeemed.” What a Challenge! Then, there is Ghandi. While he was fighting the aperteid system in South Africa he made this statement: “When you Christians live the life of your Master, when you love each other unconditionally, then all India will bow down to Christianity.” We have peace with God through justification by faith, and we will reflect the love of God as we allow Jesus to live in us and reflect His love through us.
By: David Kayumba
Category: Jesus as Compassionate - Helping the Hurting