1 Timothy 1:15 “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst.”
Why did Jesus come into the world? He didn’t come to end all wars. He didn’t come to wipe out poverty or hunger. He didn’t come to prevent global warming. He didn’t come to teach us how to eat right. He didn’t come to tell us what kinds of cars to drive. He didn’t come to help us with time management. He didn’t come to manage our portfolios. He didn’t come to pass pro-life legislation. He didn’t come to prevent same-sex marriages. He didn’t come to end discrimination. He didn’t come to make us rich.
Don’t get me wrong. All of those may be good things. Those who follow him may experience many of those things, or they may work at many of those things, as a result. But nowhere in Scripture does it say that that is why Jesus came.
“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” This is why Jesus kept the commandments for us perfectly. This is why Jesus’ reached out to the poor and the outcast. This is why he carried the responsibility for our sins to the cross. This is why he suffered and died. This is why he rose again on the third day. He didn’t come to be a guru, a politician, a motivational speaker, or a philanthropist. The title of Max Lucado’s popular book of devotions on Good Friday is to the point: No wonder they call him the Savior. He came to save us–to rescue us from sin and death. He is not nearly so interested in making our earthly lives happier as he is in rescuing us from this world and taking us to heaven.
Isn’t that clear in the kind of people Jesus saves? Paul calls himself the worst of sinners. That doesn’t necessarily mean that he is the very worst sinner of all time. But this isn’t just an exaggeration or false humility, either. He opposed God in a very direct way. He tried to stamp out God’s way of saving the world. He was trying to drive souls away from Jesus and into the jaws of hell. He was certainly the worst kind of sinner.
This also makes Paul a wonderful example of God’s saving grace. “But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.” Could Jesus forgive you? Aren’t some of my sins so disgusting, so unbelievably mean, so regularly repeated, that they would just be too much for someone so kind and loving as Jesus to get past?
Look at Paul’s example. Look at the long list of Bible characters and their stories of personal failure. Jesus has unlimited patience. His purpose for coming is to forgive you, to save you, to claim you for himself. He is the grace-driven Savior.