This week’s news has given us a wonderful, heart-warming example of friendship. Kevin Sinfield and Rob Burrow played rugby league together for Leeds Rhinos, England and Great Britain, winning many trophies. Sinfield, in particular, is considered one of the all-time greats, being the highest points scorer in rugby league history. When Rob Burrow was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease, Sinfield wanted to do something about it so in December 2020 he ran 7 marathons in 7 days, intending to raise £77,777 but by the time he’d finished the last marathon he had raised £1.2 million. This year he ran 101 miles in 24 hours and has so far raised over £1.6 million. There was no reason for Kevin Sinfield to attempt these amazing tasks except for friendship.
What would you do for friendship? How far would you go to help someone? What sacrifice would you be willing to make? After the fall of Singapore during World War 2, many prisoners of war were forced to work on a jungle railway and track over the River Kwai. Conditions were harsh with the P.O.W’s being cruelly treated. One day the officer in charge of a work detail noticed that a shovel was missing and demanded it be returned or he would kill all the prisoners. No one moved, but then one man moved forward and he was beaten to death. At the next tool check, all the shovels were present, there had been a miscount. The man who stepped forward was innocent but he had chosen to give his life for his friends.
The Apostle Paul postulated on what a man might do for others. He first reasoned that “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person”. (1) We hold life too dear and our natural reaction is to hold on to it even if it means someone else dying. Paul didn’t end there. He then said, “though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die”. (2) We can include the brave P.O.W. from the River Kwai in the distinguished list of someones. He was prepared to die for others even though he was innocent. There aren’t many who would do what he did.
Paul then made this amazing statement. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. (3) What is this? Christ died for us while we were sinners? A sinner is essentially an enemy of God, someone who has acted in rebellion against him by choosing to follow their way rather than his. Sinner is a word the Bible applies to all mankind because, from the time our ancestors Adam and Eve first sinned in the Garden of Even, we have all sinned. So why does God love us and why would he let Christ die for us?
That’s something we will never understand no matter how long we live. Christians believe we will live forever, this life being a prelude to something greater and eternal, but we know that if we consider it throughout eternity we will never understand why God loves us. He created us to love us but we turned against him and treated him shabbily. History is a story of man fulfilling his desires in opposition to God’s will and look what a mess we’ve made of the world. We live as if God doesn’t exist and yet he loves us.
Not only does he love us but he does it despite our sin, and his love is so great he allowed his son Jesus to die for us. For a good man someone might dare to die but while we were his enemies Jesus died for us. Think of the P.O.W. at the River Kwai. What if he had chosen to die for his Japanese captors who has treated him so badly? P.O.W.’s suffered from starvation, malnutrition, beatings, nothing that would endear them to their captors, so the thought of a P.O.W. giving his life for his enemies sounds crazy. That’s what Jesus did. While we were God’s enemies Jesus died for us so that our sins could be forgiven. He once said to his disciples, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends”. (4) Wouldn’t you want a friend like Jesus who changes us from his enemies to his friends?
- Romans 5:7
- Romans 5:7
- Romans 5:8
- John 15:15