Couple weeks ago, Supreme Court issued decision re: Peace Cross, Bladensburg, MD, 10 miles from White House.
“The cross was chosen because it was reminiscent of the fields of crosses marking the graves of fallen soldiers buried overseas. On the pedestal supporting the cross is a bronze plaque with the names of the 49 soldiers from Prince George’s County who gave their lives in World War I.”
87-page decision in American Legion v. American Humanist Association – not only in 1st century, the cross and its message is still foolishness in 21st century.
Apostle Paul made abundantly clear in first letter to church at Corinth:
1 Cor. 1:18 Read it
Didn’t discourage Paul or cause change of mind, also makes plain preaching the cross of Christ not something he did by accident:
1 Cor. 2:1-5 Read it – I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
1 Cor. 15:3 I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
Cross was central in Peter’s theology also. Has given instruction how we as followers of Christ should behave in public, our civic responsibilities, and in workplace. Has set high standard, the example of Lord Jesus, maybe one you think is impossible to meet. Wait until we get to part about husbands and wives!! Now before you get discouraged and hang it up, Peter has more to say… about the cross. If we are to live as pilgrims in the world, going against tide of culture, can only do it in power of the cross.
A. perfect example v.21-23
how to live
Jesus lived purposely – intentionally living out his life as first Adam should have – walked carefully, leaving clear footprints for us
Jesus did not set bar of example impossibly high so we could never achieve it – simply lived and acted pleasing to God, showing us how to do it and made sure Gospels had the record preserved for us
how to die
here’s something that really goes contrary to culture today, including here in Maine – governor signed Maine Death with Dignity Act into law on June 12, 2019
wonder what advocates of bill would think about crucifixion, whether meets definition of dignity – Jesus didn’t protest against it, try to find way to avoid it
Jesus’ intent was to satisfy / please Father in death as in life – expects his people to follow in those footsteps just like the rest
don’t buy the (New Age) lie
w/o question, Jesus said he is the way… to the Father, not to godhood like New-Agers claim – he showed us the way to live pleasing to the Father but not apart from Jesus
common practice with apprenticeships – show/instruct how to do it, watch apprentice do it, then “you’re on your own” – Jesus never said that to his followers
another thing Jesus never said… that we could ever satisfy God’s demands apart from him – in fact he said just the opposite, John 15:5
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
B. problematic implementation v.24
power of sin
as soon as we try to follow Jesus’ example, immediately find out there’s a problem – if are walking in his footsteps, should only be one set of prints behind us – go ahead, look, what do you see?
there you see power of sin over our best intentions – pushing, pulling, persuading to wander away from path Jesus’ walked
if were up to us to set standard, would figure out way to accommodate weakness, failure – drop the bar a few notches
power of the cross
instead of taking standard down, he took our sins up with him, paid full penalty
“This, the pow’r of the cross: Christ became sin for us; Took the blame, bore the wrath—We stand forgiven at the cross.”
what Jesus accomplished by his willing sacrifice intended to change how we live and die… as well as what comes after death
is only the power of the cross that breaks power of sin – to condemn us, to enslave us – can be enticed by it, need not be slave to sin
our only hope is in coming to the cross, embracing the Jesus who died there as Savior and Lord, fully depending on him and his righteousness
purpose of the cross
far more than simple insurance policy – embracing Christ does relieve of punishments of hell, does not leave us in our sin
is why God graciously prevented Adam & Eve from tree of life – is committed to fully redeeming us from corruption / condemnation from sin… beginning at moment of conversion
die to sin – dead person does not respond to anything, no matter how tempting – one who is dying to sin does not respond
since we stand forgiven at the cross, are new creatures in Christ, have power as well as desire to resist sin’s enticements
as Holy Spirit applies truth from God’s word to us, we follow Spirit’s leading, side effects of sin gradually being flushed away
live for righteousness – here’s purpose of the cross declared… not simply that we should live forever but live for righteousness – iow, “that [we] should follow his steps”
purpose not to empower us to earn God’s favor – clear reminder given: “by [his] stripes you were healed” – is Jesus’ merit, Jesus’ righteousness applied to us that gives us right standing with God
is Jesus’ power that comes to us through ministry of the Holy Spirit that equips us to live for righteousness
C. provided facilitator v.25
shows the way – Shepherd
a shepherd leads his flock, doesn’t drive them – sheep literally follow shepherd’s steps – our shepherd has followed path all the way: life, death, heaven
Jesus doesn’t give followers GPS, expect to figure out how to get there – dozens trying to avoid traffic jam in Denver ended up stuck in mud on farm road
one driver: “There is no way that Google could have known that that was the situation out there.”
keeps his people on the way – Overseer
notice what Shepherd Overseer cares about – souls… not bodies – Jesus the only one who has resources necessary to guard our souls
because of who he is and what he has done, everyone who follows Jesus can have absolute confidence – he knows what he is doing, where he is going, will not take wrong turn or lose any along the way
The cross means God’s standard is not impossible… not because of man’s effort but because of God’s grace. For sake of his son the Lord Jesus, he accepts us as righteous and pleasing to him… when we do our part, depending / trusting him to help us. We do not need to see road ahead, only need to see one step at a time, make sure is Jesus’ footprints we are following.
People we all know, ones we will meet who are enslaved by all sorts of things, are powerless to overcome. Remember what Paul said: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” Is a message of hope and encouragement for all who will listen… including us.