The emblem of suffering and shame
Monday, June 29, 2020
We are studying the daily themes and passages from the Rocky Railway VBS curriculum from Group Publishers. The theme is “Jesus’ Power Pulls Us Through!” So far, we’ve learned:
Jesus Power Helps Us Do Hard Things
Jesus Power Gives Us Hope
Jesus Power Helps Us Be Bold
Today, we learn: Jesus Power Helps Us Live Forever!
Romans 8:11 says, “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.”
Today’s message is the most important one of this whole series. It is the very cornerstone of everything Christians believe and do. It is the Good News that Jesus died, but that he also rose from the grave. The full story of Jesus death and resurrection is found in the Gospel of Matthew in chapters 26-28. I will highlight a few passages from those chaoters.
An Uncomfortable Truth
Does death make you uncomfortable? Does it scare you? Many people don’t like to talk about death. I get it. Death is scary. Death is sad. Death is something we all want to avoid, but none of us will be able to avoid it forever. Death is part of life—at least it is part of life in a broken world.
Romans 3:23, 3:10, & 6:23
You see, Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard.” There is no one alive who hasn’t sinned. We are broken, corrupt, sinful people. Name one person you know who never sinned. You may name some really good people, maybe even a “saint”, but even they have done things they shouldn’t. And the problem with labeling a person “good” or “saintly” is that we use human standards. (Maybe someone says you are really good at basketball. But if they put you on the court against Michael Jordan, they would see you are really terrible. Right?) Well, when we view people next to the holiness of God, we see we are terribly flawed. Romans 3:10 says, “No one is righteous—not even one.”
And Romans 6:23a says, “For the wages of sin is death…” Death is the consequence of sin. This was not God’s original plan. However, humanity is consumed with the selfish desire to be independent of God and in control of our own destiny. We don't want God's Kingdom to come. We want our own personal kingdoms to persist. Our selfish insistence to be independent of God leads to all kinds of hurt and pain and evil and suffering; and ultimately it leads to death.
Jesus' disciples didn’t want to talk about death either. Every time he brought it up, they wanted to change the subject. So he used the Jewish Passover celebration to illustrate it for them.
26 As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.”
27 And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, 28 for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many. 29 Mark my words—I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom.”
30 Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.
The Old Rugged Cross
There’s an old hymn we sing called “The Old Rugged Cross”.
On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross
The emblem of suffering and shame
The emblem of suffering and shame
“You see, not everyone believed that Jesus was God’s Son. Some people thought he was a liar. They got so angry that they arrested Jesus.”[i] They put him on trial, but it was not really a fair trial. They tortured him and sentenced him to death. “They forced him to carry a rough wooden cross to a hill called Golgatha. There, they nailed his hands and feet to that cross and left him to die. In that time, only criminals were put to death on a cross. But Jesus never sinned—he was God’s pure and perfect Son!”
The hymn “tells us the cross was an emblem—a picture—of suffering and shame. Jesus suffered for our shame. We may feel ashamed of the wrong things we do, the bad choices we all make. Even though we do a lot of great things, we all have sin."
The old hymn goes on…
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain
“Slain means that someone was killed. Jesus was the dearest and best. 1 Peter 2:22 says, “He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone.” When we do something wrong, there’s usually a punishment, a consequence. When we sin, the ultimate consequence is separation from God. Forever. Imagine being separated from God’s love, forgiveness, goodness, power, and joy forever.”
“Even though Jesus never sinned, he willingly dies for you. He loves you so much that he took the punishment for your wrongs. It was the only way to heal our friendship with God. Jesus took your punishment.”
So I'll cherish the old rugged cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down
"Sometimes we value or treasure or cherish our accomplishments. A thousand ribbons and awards or good deeds can’t wash away our wrongs. We can never do enough good things to earn our way into heaven. The Bible says it this way. Ephesians 2:8, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.” We are powerless to save ourselves. Only Jesus can save us. So, we have to lay down all our pride, our treasures, everything at the foot of the cross Because Jesus is the one who’s really important."
And I will cling to the old rugged cross
And exchange it some day for a crown
Thankfully, “Jesus story didn’t end at the cross. Remember, Jesus is God’s Son, with God’s power! And that power is stronger than death! Three days after Jesus died, something incredible happened."
2 Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. 3 His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. 4 The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.
5 Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying.
"Jesus power beat death—on that day, for Jesus. And today, for you and me. The Bible promises this: “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Because of Jesus, we can cling to the cross—the promise, hope, love, and power it represent. The last line of the old hymn says we’ll exchange our trophies for a crown."
Revelation 21:3-4 give us a vision of the eternal life we’ll have when trust Jesus as our Lord and Savior. It says, “3 Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
As we close, I ask you: do you trust Jesus? Will you lay down all your trophies? Will you cling to the old rugged cross and put all your hopes in the man who died f If so, then he will raise you to new life too.or you there and rose to new life?
Tuesday, December 19, 2017
Advent is the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas when Christians prepare to celebrate Christ's birth, but it is also a time we focus on preparing for Jesus' second coming. The first time, Jesus came as a harmless little baby. But the second time, Jesus will come as a conquering King ready to separate the good from the evil.
Thankfully, God loves us so much and wants us to be ready. That’s why He sent Jesus to first time—to get us ready. Jesus shows us how we need to live and he already atoned for our sins. Aren't you glad Jesus came the first time so we can be ready when he comes the second time?
Mother Teresa said, "Love, to be real, must cost. It must hurt. It must empty us of self."
I see a lot of expressions of real love in our congregation. Real love is 12 people from our church joining with a team from Grace Presbyterian to feed over 100 needy people at the City of Refuge last Monday night. Real love is Kevin Roberts there coloring a picture with a little girl and Tanya Brooker tutoring a child on their math homework before the food was served. Real love is when our church secretary, Angela, can’t sleep at night because she’s tossing and turning in the bed at 3 AM thinking about what we can do with poinsettias to show the love of Jesus—and she comes up with the Poinsettia Challenge.
Real love is Susan Cooksey—a retired teacher—going over to Pleasant Grove Elementary School each week to help out and see how our church can be a blessing to the school. Most people retire and throw their hands up in praise, "I'm done! I don't have to work any more! I've done my time. Now I can sit at home and collect a retirement check." In stead, Susan continues to go to the school and work as a volunteer to help teachers and students, because that's what real love does.
Real love is a Jason and Andrea Denson going through over 2 years of preparation and training and paperwork and praying and hoping and crying and hoping and crying and hoping some more before finally flying over to China to meet their new daughter. Real love is their son, Jace—who’s been the baby of the family getting all the attention for almost a decade—welcoming his new sister into the family with open arms. He willingly shares his family with his new sister.
Real love is James and Mary Greenway taking clothes over to the residents who lost everything in an apartment fire in Dalton this weekend and praying with them to bring peace in the midst of a tragedy. Real love is Amy Harris spurring our church to sponsor 20 families who have a loved one in prison so they will have Christmas presents and leading the youth to host a Angel Tree Party for the families yesterday. Real love is someone from our church going to visit a friend in prison because they’re struggling with addiction and mental illness and they did a terrible thing, but Jesus still loves them so we do too.
Real love is a parent who sacrifices the time, the money, their life, gaining gray hairs through nights of worry and praying and shedding tears of joy and sometimes disappointment. Real love is a spouse who cares for their husband or wife as they slowly fade into dementia. Real love never giving up even when it hurts so bad you just want to die.
He sent his one and only son. He could have and should have come as king treated to a palace and glory with everyone serving him. But Jesus didn't come to be served. He came to serve others. He showed what real love is and he said:
John 15:13 – There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Jesus showed us what real love is. Every day, Jesus laid down his life by the way he served and put others before himself. And ultimately in the end, Jesus literally laid down his life when he died on the cross for our sins. 1 John 4:10, "This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins."
Get Ready and Follow Jesus
Jesus loves us with real love and he want us to love him so we will be ready. Jesus said in John 14:15, "If you love me, obey my commandments." And what were his commands? Let me distill it down to 4 basic truths.
· Command #1 – Repent. The first sermon Jesus preached was "Repent for the Kingdom of God is near." In other words, your day of reckoning and judgment could happen at any moment. God is about to separate the good from the bad and reward each accordingly. So you better turn away from your wrongdoing and turn to God.
· Command # 2 – Trust Jesus. You have to turn away from your evil ways and trying to do what you want and trust and follow Jesus' way. Do you trust Jesus enough to give up what you want and work for what he wants? That is the only way to be ready to meet him face to face when he comes again. That is the only way to find eternal life.
· Command # 3 – Love. Jesus said to love God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your strength and love your neighbor as yourself. John 15:12, Jesus said, "This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you." What does that mean? It means you lay down your life. It means life stops being about you. It’s about serving others and loving them the way Jesus did.
· Command #4 – Go. In Matthew 28:19, 20, Jesus said, "Go and make disciples of all nations… Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you…" That’s what I what I try to do everyday by the way I live and even as I write this blog. I want you to become a disciple of Jesus, because I love you and I want you have eternal life in the Kingdom of God with me.
A Prayer to Become a Christian
"Father, I'm so sorry for trying to do things my way. I repent. I surrender my life to You. Forgive me for what I've done and help me to follow Jesus from this day forward. Help me to love You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. And help me to love everyone I meet the way You love them. Show me how I can tell people what Jesus is doing for me. Thank You for saving me! Now help me live for You for the rest of my life. Amen."
If you prayed to become a Christian today, I would like to here from you. Please email me at ReverendChrisMullis@Hotmail.com so I can pray for you.