I’ve noticed that some of the Christian songs on the death of Christ seem to relate (supposed) human specialness to Christ’s sacrificial death — as if Christ died because we were so special. And from a human perspective, it is not hard to see why. If I were to give my life for someone, you would naturally suppose that this other person must be pretty special (at least to me). After all:
“For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die.” – Rom. 5:7
But Paul contrasts this mindset with God’s.
“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Rom. 5:8
It is not our specialness but rather the immensity of God’s love that produced Golgotha. This reminded me of a message John Piper gave at the 1998 Passion event called Did Christ Die For Us Or For God. His text was Romans 3:25-26:
“Whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
The audio is available and it appears that Pastor Piper wrote an article several years prior on the same theme. The upshot is that we tend to view the universe from a man-centered lens, so we fail to grasp the problem of sin from God’s vantage point. He simply cannot let sinners off the hook without impugning his own Name. He must maintain His justice–hence the cross. The cross is not an echo of our excellence. Rather, Christ died to free us to make much of God forever. This is true love, and it is folly to the world.