I know that Jesus died for the whole world, but sometime this is phrased as Jesus died specifically for me. What is the Biblical basis for thinking that Jesus died for me specifically?
In 1 Timothy 1:12-17, Paul - or someone writing as him - says (NRSV translation):
I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the foremost. But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
The author describes himself as being the pre-eminent sinner, although (from context) we know that he does not mean that he is actually worse than other people. Rather, his intention is to say that whenever anyone sins, he or she is condemned; and that everyone who is saved from the domination of sin is saved by Christ. The author counts himself as the chief of sinners because there is no greater sinner he can hide behind. There is no excuse for us. We can all describe ourselves in this way - but equally, we can all say "Jesus came to save me". And because of this knowledge, we must be careful to remember (as you point out) that the same is true for other people - Jesus did not come to save only me.
In response to your clarification:
You would like to know whether Jesus had you, specifically, in mind during his Passion. What we know from Scripture is that Jesus "gave his life as a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28), and that "he died for all" to "reconcile us to himself", "not counting our trespasses against us" (2 Corinthians 5:15, 18-19). This act of reconciliation unites us with him in love; "our old self was crucified with him" (Romans 6:6) and now "we abide in him and he in us" (1 John 4:13). Further, it is written (Isaiah 53:4-6 and partially quoted in Matthew 8:17):
Surely he has borne our infirmities
and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
and by his bruises we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have all turned to our own way,
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
It is certain that every sin was part of his burden on the cross, including even those sins yet to happen. If this were not so, then our sins could not be redeemed, and we could not be united with him.
Jesus certainly suffered in his crucifixion, as the Gospels attest. We might argue about the extent to which he was conscious of each sin individually. While some would say that Jesus in his earthly life had only a human intellect, the transcendent nature of the Passion is surely a plausible candidate for an exception. In any case, he felt the pain of every sin, including yours and mine, regardless of precisely how he felt it.
Galatians 2:20 (NASB):
I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me and the like which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (emphasis added)
True saving faith involves personal engagement with the Savior, personally applying His work and all it has secured. Christ died in our place, substitutionarily.
would it be reasonable to rephrase your question as, 'Would Jesus still have died if it would only save one person?' If yes, I would look at Luke 15.
Parable of the Lost Sheep
Luke 15:7: "I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent."
Parable of the Lost Coin
Luke 15:10: "In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Parable of the Prodigal Son, the Father so loves the wayward son as to abandon his dignity to embrace and welcome back the filthy, unclean but repentant son. So great is His love for the sinner who repents.
These passages indicate to me that the answer is: Yes, God would have sent Jesus to die for me even if I was the only sinner that would be saved. By extension, I believe this means that Jesus died for me personally, and for you personally.
But praise be to God that He saved so many more.
I pray this helps you make sense of this.
"Christ died for all" God loved the people of this world so much that He gave His one and only Son Jesus Christ(John 3:16). The Bible doesn't say Jesus died only for the righteous or the Israelites, but He died for all mankind.
And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. (2 Corinthians 5:15, NIV)
"Am I included?" The Bible says that Jesus died for sinners.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8, NIV)
How does that include me? What can convince me that I am a sinner?
“Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts — murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.” (Matthew 15:17-20, NIV)
Even though you have not committed any crime outwardly, if you have evil thoughts in your heart, you are already a sinner. If you think that your heart is pure, you don't need Jesus to die for you. But if you are convinced that "all have sinned" (Romans 3:23), you indeed need the righteous Son of God to die for you. After accepting the fact that you are a sinner, then you can say with confident, "Jesus died for me".
"Jesus died only for me?" Saying that Jesus Christ died for me and me alone is egoistic, self centered and greedy. It means you want Heaven only for yourself and you don't want others to come. God desires everyone to be in Heaven with Him forever, and not only one person. You like it or not, there will be countless people in Heaven.
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9-10, NIV)
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me (John 10:14)
[...], the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world. (Revelation 13:8)
He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. (Psalm 147:4)
Jesus said while living as a human he knew who belongs to him. Revelation says the death of Christ was planned from the beginning of this world. If God could name all the stars in heaven, yes, He could name all of us and the divine nature of Jesus surely knew for who he was dying.
If you believe in the doctrine of Election, as I do, it is easy to understand that Jesus knew me in the eternity and died for me specifically, but not only me of course.
On the other hand, if your belief is that man has free will to accept salvation so Christ paid for all sins of all men in a generic way and is up to you to accept or not the salvation, it is more difficult to conciliate Jesus dying specifically for anyone. Nevertheless you can also believe that Jesus foreknew you would repent and believe in the Gospel so He knew He was dying for you.
First who are you? Are you a sinner or what?
To answer a question like that, you must first know where you stand with God.
Seeing Jesus as dying for you only and getting saved by Jesus is personal
To answer your question.
It's actually a question you need to ask yourself. That's the only way to find that kind of answer is to answer this: who are you in Christ?
- Who is crucified daily? Your Old Self? See Romans 6:
(NAB) 2 How can we who died to sin yet live in it? 3 Or are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life. 5 For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin. 7 For a dead person has been absolved from sin. 8 If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him. 10 As to his death, he died to sin once and for all; as to his life, he lives for God. 11 Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as [being] dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.