Pastor’s Class Notes
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Romans 5:7 “For scarcely for a righteous man will one
die; yet peradventure for a good man some
would even dare to die.”
Paul is saying here that one will hardly die for a righteous man, though perhaps for a good man there are those who would dare to die.
For whom would you be willing to die? It is never easy to die for another. And if called upon to do so, it would help if the one for whom we died were a good person.
It is possible that one could be persuaded to die for another. Some of mankind’s finest moments have proven this true. Before Caesar’s tribunal, the innocent son of the rebel Metellus offered to die in his father’s place. Caesar was so moved by it all that he granted both men life and liberty. An assassin once pulled out a dagger and aimed a violent blow at Edwin, the best and greatest of the Anglo-Saxon kings. However, Tilla, one of Edwin’s servants, saw the assassin raising his arm with the dagger in hand. Immediately, Tilla jumped in front of the king and intercepted the fatal blow with his own body. A brave and loyal soldier once threw himself in front of his beloved master’s son and received a bullet in his heart. He died with a smile on his face.
A young single sailor once gave up his seat in the last lifeboat, saying, “Save my mate here, for he has a wife and children.” The young hero soon went down with the sinking ship. In a coal mine disaster, there was a man who had a wife and three children. In the falling of debris, his gas mask was torn. A young man nearby immediately took off his own mask and forced it on his friend, saying, “You have Mary and the children; they need you. I am alone and can go.” Once a poor outcast mother wrapped her baby in her own scanty dress and shawl. Then, confident that her baby would survive, she lay down in the snow to die. A poor child died in a New York attic with these pathetic words, “I’m glad I am going to die, because now my brothers and sisters will have enough to eat.”
A little crippled girl, living in the slums, underwent an operation that would enable her to walk. She needed a blood transfusion, and her fourteen-year-old brother, a tough boy of the streets, volunteered. After giving the blood, the boy sat nearby staring at the wall in tight-lipped silence. The doctor walked over and told the lad he had been very brave. The boy, who did not understand the nature of a transfusion, looked up and said, “Doc, how long before I die?” As far as he was concerned, he had been dying drop by drop, giving his life that his sister might live.
About a year ago, my pastor friend, David Spurlin, needed a kidney transplant to live. His brother, Tim, underwent testing and learned he could be a donor. Their parents, however, also had themselves tested in an effort to spare Tim from losing a kidney. It was a touching scene, watching each family member wishing to take the risk in behalf of others. Tim finally became the donor. Both he and David are doing well. Yes, for a good man some would possibly die.
Romans 5:8 “But God commendeth His love toward us,
in that, while we were yet sinners,
Christ died for us.”
The magnitude of God’s grace is pictured most dramatically by viewing the unworthiness of its objects. Men will die for others of worth, but Jesus died for sinners.
The stories I just told are of a much lesser love than Jesus showed. Nevertheless, such stories often stir us more than the cross does. How unfortunate it is that we have become numb to the story of the cross. No story contains nearly as much pathos as that of the crucifixion.
Perhaps the ugliest form of depravity is our ability to take the cross for granted. O that God would give us softer hearts. The light that shined from Calvary is one that should melt our hearts. We need to learn to weep over it more often.
We need to remember that when He died for us, we were sinners, and continual sinners at that. We were weak to do good (v. 6) but strong to do evil. We were strengthless toward God and good, but continually mighty to do evil.
We do not sin only once or twice a day, but rather continually. Is there ever a time when we pray that we have no need to confess and repent? No, never! There is always some darkness in our heart which needs to be repented of.
Despite this ever-present depravity, God commendeth His love toward us. “Commend” means to demonstrate, to exhibit, to prove in a public way.
Why do we believe that God is love? Because of good weather, health, and wealth? If so, then what about bad weather days, sickness, and poverty? Would you still believe it then? You would only if you understand that God’s love is demonstrated by the death of Jesus.
Jesus came down from Heaven to earth, then went from earth down into the grave, then went down from the grave into the region of the dead. The Mighty Maker of the skies bowed His precious head and sank all the way down to the region of the dead. He went as low as he could go.
At Calvary, holiness died for sinfulness. And it was not an ordinary death, but rather one of shame, humiliation, and unutterable pain.
This death happened in the past, but it continues forever as the ultimate proof of God’s love. That is why Paul used the present tense, “commendeth.” The light that shone at Calvary continues to shine throughout the world. This is still the good news. Jesus died for sinners.