“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20)
- “I live by faith in the Son of God.” Jesus was living in Paul and Paul was living in Jesus by faith in Jesus. Christ in Paul and Paul in Christ. The old Paul had tried to live by works of the law, but when he heard the true gospel he realized that justification did not come by works of the law. No matter how sincere a person is or how perfect they try to be they cannot escape the penalty of sin passed on through Adam to all mankind. At the same time, a person cannot justify their own personal sins so they are trapped by sin in two ways. There must be faith in Jesus who removed the penalty of Adam with his own blood. There must be faith in Jesus who also removes the guilt of our personal sins. The blood of animals was effective for personal sins for a year but there was no sacrifice under the old law that removed the consequences of Adam’s sin. Only the Lamb of God, meaning God Himself, could remove that penalty and He did.
- “Who loved me and gave himself for me?” None of what Paul has been describing makes sense. Not only to the Jews who had their own view of God as a vengeful deity but also to the Gentiles whose entire history of a plethora of gods showed nothing of love. Thinking about God and Law and Sin brought up little in the way of love imagery. Sin and law promoted anger, wrath, and vengeance. What Paul found in Jesus and what all men who turn to Him find is not anger and wrath but longsuffering and love. “Jesus Loves Me” is the theme song of every Christian regardless of age or race. This love was different than any love known by Paul. This love had nothing to do with Paul was doing. All of Paul’s earthly attributes and accomplishments were by his own account nothing more than dung.
Jesus did not love Paul because of who Paul was or what Paul did. His love was not influenced by any of the criteria we might use to love someone today. Paul didn’t deserve love, he deserved the wrath. Paul didn’t luck into love or find it by accident. Jesus loved him on purpose. It was Jesus who sought Paul, not the other way around. “While we were still in sin,” Paul wrote, “Jesus died for us.” That’s love in action, not words. Paul did not love Jesus nor Jesus’s friends when he met Jesus. In fact, Jesus was Paul’s enemy and yet what Paul found when he met Jesus was love. Is it any wonder that Paul likes to talk about love, mercy, and grace?
It’s no different for us today. Jesus is seeking us even if we are running from Him or ignoring Him. No matter how awful we behave, Jesus loves us. We can shake our fist in His face or spit on Him like they did the day He died but His love will call for forgiveness. Jesus loves us. To prove it, He bore our sins, wore our stripes, suffered our pain, paid our debt and set us free. Jesus gave Himself for us.
Task for Today: Try saying this verse a few times, especially the latter part. Try it this way, “Jesus loves me and to prove it, died for me, bearing my sins.” Who is in you today? The God of love or the god of self? What are you saying, “I can do it, or thank God for His unspeakable gift?”