Summary: God’s Love Is Amazing 1) It's for you; 2) It's forever
On November 7th, 1907, a boxcar containing dynamite caught fire in the village of Nacozari in Sonora, Mexico. When the flames reached the dynamite, the blast was felt 16 kilometers (10 miles) away. That would be like standing in the parking lot of the St. Albert Wal-Mart and feeling a blast that went off in Morinville! The whole town of Nacozari should have been blown into the air like dandelion seeds scattered by a single, careless puff. It wasn’t, however, thanks to the railroad engineer, Jesús García. When he noticed that the boxcar had caught fire, he quickly drove the car away from the town where it exploded harmlessly - harmlessly for the people of Nacozari that is but not harmlessly for Jesús. Jesús himself died in the blast. He gave his life to save the lives of many. Why did he do it? We can’t ask him of course but I’m sure he would have said something like, “It was my job.”
There is, of course, another Jesús who gave his life in a daring rescue. On Good Friday, Jesus of Nazareth hitched the world’s sins to himself and pulled them up on the cross where God’s fury exploded with a deafening silence that can still be heard 2,000 years later. Why did Jesus do it? Step close and press your eye to the keyhole of the cross and you’ll see why he did it because you’ll be looking into God’s love. God’s amazing love. Today we’ll see that God’s love is amazing because it’s for you, and it’s forever.
The train engineer, Jesús García, is hailed a hero because he saved a town of hard working people, of boys and girls, and of grandpas and grandmas. But what if he had driven a burning boxcar of TNT away from the mansion of a drug lord? Would newspaper headlines have read, “Jesús García Demonstrates Love By Dying For Drug Lords!”? More likely they would call him a fool for sacrificing his life for the sake of scum. Why not let the boxcar explode and take the drug lord and all his cronies with him? Consider then what the Apostle Paul writes about the rescue Jesus pulled off. “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8).
We may not live outside the law as a drug lord obviously does by trafficking narcotics but we do routinely step outside of the boundaries God has given to us – boundaries meant to keep us and others safe. For example God forbids stealing and yet we routinely transfer music we didn’t buy onto our iPods, telling ourselves that those millionaire artists don’t need MY hard earned cash. God tells us to speak the truth but we’d rather blame our teacher for our crummy test results than admit we just didn’t study hard enough. Am I describing nitpicky sins that God doesn’t really care about? Tell me, how big of a flame does it take to ignite a stick of dynamite? Won’t just a spark do? In the same every sin, no matter how small it may seem to us, is a fire that threatens to blow up our relationship with God because every sin is an arrogant declaration of independence from God’s love and concern for us.
That was the situation when God acted. We were engulfed in the flames of our own sin when God sent his Son to rescue us even though God knew that it would cost his Son’s life. Would you do that? Would you send your child on to thin ice to rescue his drowning friend if you knew your son would die in the process? What if that drowning kid WASN’T your son’s friend, but the bully who had stolen your son’s lunch money and covered him with bruises and ridicule every recess since kindergarten? That’s what God did when he sent Jesus to rescue us…and for free. You’ll never receive a bill in the mail for what God did to save you from hell fire. God’s love is amazing because it’s for you no matter how “terrible” the sins you have committed or how small you may think those sins are.
If Jesús García had given his life to rescue a drug lord, you would expect the thug to show his thanks by mending his ways. But what if he didn’t? What if he continued to peddle drugs and gun down rivals and innocent bystanders alike? Would anyone give their life to save such a man a second time? I doubt it. Consider then God’s amazing love. It’s not just for sinners; it’s forever. Paul wrote: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand” (Romans 5:1, 2a).