29 March 2013

For This Christ Died? (A Repost from the Archives)

Easter, like most holidays here in America, tends to be marked

by mixed messages. There is truth, and there is all the crap on sale at Wal-Mart.

"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us,

so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor. 5:21)

"Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows,

yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,

and by his wounds we are healed" (Isaiah 53:4-5)

"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us,

for it is written: 'Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.' He redeemed us

in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus,

so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit"

(Galatians 3:13-14)

"And they sang a song: 'You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals,
because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation. . . . Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!'"
(Rev. 5:9-10, 12)
The contrast is phenomenal, is it not? Now, the Easter bunny is not the Antichrist, nor is Easter egg hunting a sin. But, as is the case for most holidays, we need to stay focused on the source of the holiday and the true meaning. Easter is a bouquet of truths given to us by God. Lean in and savor them for yourself:
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
"The Son of Man came to give his life as a ransom for many."
"While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
"It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out in a loud voice, 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.' When he had said this, he breathed his last."
"But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep."
"For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him."
"For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence. . . . But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him."
"Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades."

25 March 2013

The Love of God

I loved this song from the first time I heard it, something I can't say very often.  As we approach Resurrection Sunday, may we center upon the love of God poured out in the incarnation, ministry, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  

In my sermon yesterday, the centerpiece of the message was that God's holiness and God's love intersect at the cross, for it is where God poured out his wrath against sin, satisfying his holiness, and it is where God poured out his love by putting Jesus, not us, on that cross.  This way, as Paul writes in Romans 3:26, God is both "just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus."

Another song I really like is the contemporary hymn In Christ Alone.  I think only a few corrections are in order for this song, and one of them would be to change the line "'til on the cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied" to "'til on the cross as Jesus died, God's wrath and love were satisfied."  It wasn't just wrath poured out that day.  "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us."  Indeed, "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1 Jn. 3:16; 4:10).