At the youngest level of our church’s children’s program, the children start with two basic truths:
First, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
Second, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8, emphasis mine
In other words, we all start on equal footing with the Lord. Not one of us is good enough to merit His favor in our own right. In spite of that, though, when we were at our worst, darkest places, Jesus still loved us enough to accept a punishment which should have belonged to each of us.
Even before the monumental act of sacrificial love on the cross, though, the Gospels are full of examples of Jesus’ intense compassion for the lost and broken, and the powerful demonstrations of love this led Him to undertake.
One of His most profound statements of love and humility, though, came right before he made that journey to the cross, when the Lord who had given up his throne to die knelt at the feet of his followers and washed them as the lowest of servants.
This was a ragtag group of twelve men, viewed as the lowest of society. One would betray him. One would deny him not once but three times mere hours later. One would doubt and demand proof by way of Jesus’ scars before he would believe. And within a matter of hours, all of them would scatter and hide at His moment of deepest need.
Yet, there He was, their Lord, doing a slave’s work, and showing them what true love, true sacrifice, and true humility meant.
While they were still deeply flawed, struggling, broken men in an hour of despair, he bent a knee to serve them.
And then He told them to follow His example.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35, emphasis mine
And then He went to the cross, to show His love for us had no bounds at all. Even a criminal’s death for a broken man like me was not beneath Him.
If we tell the world we follow this Savior, if we claim His name, then this is the kind of radical love that should mark our lives.
No one is too low for us to serve, because he served.
No one is too far gone for us to reach out with compassion, because Jesus did.
No one has hurt us so deeply we cannot extend hearts of forgiveness, because Jesus did.
Jesus’ intense love for the lost and the broken, when lived out, is never misplaced. No one is too far gone or too wretched for us to bend a knee, extend a hand, and walk a mile in their tattered shoes.
Because he did it all, and far more, for us...while we were still sinners.
Daniel Kiewel is a reporter with the Great Bend Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.