Questions From Readers
At Romans 9:3, the apostle Paul wrote: “I could wish that I myself were separated as the cursed one from the Christ in behalf of my brothers, my relatives according to the flesh.” Did he mean that he would sacrifice his life to save fellow Jews?
Jesus set the superlative example of love. He was willing to surrender his soul, or life, for sinful mankind. During his public ministry, he expended himself for his countrymen—Jews—so that as many as possible would be among those who would benefit from his ransom sacrifice. (Mark 6:30-34) Their unresponsiveness and opposition to the message of salvation never dampened Jesus’ loving concern for the Jewish people. (Matthew 23:37) And he left ‘a model for us to follow his steps.’—1 Peter 2:21.
Is it possible for imperfect humans to follow Jesus’ example of love? Yes, and we can see an illustration of this in the apostle Paul. He was so concerned about fellow Jews that, out of love for them, he said he could wish that he himself were “separated as the cursed one from the Christ” in their behalf.
Paul there used a form of hyperbole, or exaggeration, to make his point. Jesus used a similar exaggeration at Matthew 5:18, when he said: “Sooner would heaven and earth pass away than for one smallest letter or one particle of a letter to pass away from the Law by any means and not all things take place.” Jesus knew that heaven and earth would not pass away. Neither would Paul become accursed, nor would all Jews accept Christianity. But Paul’s point was that he would do virtually anything to help the Jews to avail themselves of God’s means of salvation through Jesus Christ. No wonder the apostle could encourage fellow Christians: “Become imitators of me, even as I am of Christ”!—1 Corinthians 11:1.
Today, Christians should have the same concern as Jesus and Paul had for unbelievers. Never should we allow lack of interest or outright opposition from people in our witnessing territory to dampen our love for our neighbors and our zeal for helping them to learn the way of salvation.—Matthew 22:39.