Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Thursday, March 12, 2015
Let the Christ Come Down - Lent Midweek Four - March 11, 2015 - Text: Mark 15:29-32
Our text is Mark 15:29-32: “29And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, 30save yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.” This is our text.
Have you ever been caught beating your children? Have you ever been caught beating your spouse? That is one of those questions which cannot be answered with a yes or a no, because if you were to answer no, then it may be implied that you do beat your children or your spouse. This evening we hear the chief priests and the scribes mock Jesus with somewhat of a similar dilemma, “Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.”
The purpose for Jesus’ life was to live, suffer, die and rise. As you have heard me say time and again, the fullness of the Gospel is not simply that Jesus died and rose. Certainly that is the Gospel message and that is Gospel. Jesus died for us paying the price for our sins and rising defeating death and that is important. But the fulness of the Gospel is the fact that Jesus lived for us. God’s command and demand since creating was that we are perfect and we cannot be perfect. We can not live perfectly. We are conceived and born in sin. We sin actual sins, sins of omission, not doing as we should and sins of commission, doing things we should not be doing. We sin and we sin and we sin. We just cannot help ourselves. On the other hand, Jesus was true God, thus He was conceived and born in perfection. And so, He lived perfectly for us in our place because we cannot live perfectly. He lived perfectly as our substitute.
Jesus was born of the human woman, Mary and so He was truly a human man. He had to be a human in order to be able to trade His perfect life for our imperfect life. As our substitute Jesus took our sins, all our sins, our sins of thought, word and deed, our sins of omission and commission, all our sins and He suffered on the cross for us. He suffered the eternal spiritual death penalty for us in our place.
And Jesus died. And yes, that means that God died. Just as you and I will die and when we die our soul will separate from our body, so when Jesus died, His eternal being as God separated from His human body. And yet, because He is God, Jesus did not stay dead, but He rose from the dead defeating sin, death and the devil. The fact is He rose and He rose for us.
Now, the demand of the chief priests and the scribes, “Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe,” was a contradiction. The scribes, Pharisees, and teachers of the law had to admit that Jesus saved others in that He brought healing, cast out demons, raised from the dead. They could not deny these facts. As a matter of fact it was these facts of the signs, wonders and miracles that Jesus performed that upset them so even admitting that if Jesus kept doing these miracles the people would believe in Him. If only they would have believed in Jesus as the Messiah. The scribes, Pharisees and teachers of the law wanted proof that Jesus was the Savior, at least they wanted proof according to their own understanding or rather misunderstanding of who the Savior would be and of what a Savior would do, namely, they were seeking an earthly, social political Savior, not a sins forgiving Savior.
For us Jesus is our Savior because He did not come down from the cross. Jesus is our Savior because He lived perfectly for us, obeying all God’s commands, fulfilling all God’s prophecies, for us, in our place. Jesus is our Savior because He took all our sins and paid the full, complete price for all sin on the cross.
The scribes, Pharisees, and teachers of the law stated that they would believe in Jesus if He came down from the cross. The irony is that if He came down from the cross He would no longer be their Savior. If Jesus saved Himself, that is the only person He would have saved. Oh, they might then believe in Jesus, but He would no longer be their Savior.
For us we believe in Jesus, we believe His is our Savior, because He did what He said He would do. Just as God promised back in the Garden of Eden to send a Savior for all people; just as God promised Abraham, that through his offspring the Savior of the world would be born; just as God promised Mary and Joseph that there Son is God with us, Emmanuel, so, Jesus is the Savior, the Messiah, the Christ.
What does this mean? Some religions, cults and sects do not believe Jesus to be God or Savior because they do not believe God could or would die. They believe that God is above dying. They believe that they are not worthy of God dying for them. They do not understand what it means to have a God of love who created them to love them. So, instead of looking outside themselves to their God to save them, these religions, cults and sects then must point to themselves as if they are saving themselves.
The irony of these religions, cults and sects is much like that of the chief priests and scribes. These religions, cults and sects point to themselves believing they can do something to save themselves, but the fact is that they cannot save themselves because God’s demand is perfection and they cannot be perfect, so they are left unsure of their salvation.
Some religions, cults and sects do not believe Jesus to be God or Savior because they do not believe Jesus was God. They believe Jesus was just a man, a good, moral man who was a good example and no more. They believe that for a person to be saved they must follow Jesus good, moral example. Again, they point to themselves believing they can be good people or they can be the people God wants them to be all the while failing to see their own sinful nature, sin and faults.
Some religions, cults and sects actually believe that Jesus died but that instead of rising from the dead they believe He stayed dead. We might question them and ask, if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then where is His body?
On the other hand, we believe, teach and confess that Jesus is truly God in human flesh. We believe that Jesus truly is true God because as we confess in the second Article of the Apostles’ Creed, He was true God begotten of the Father from eternity. And we believe that He was truly human, again as we confess, born of the virgin Mary. We believe the Jesus was true God so that He might be born in perfection and that He was true man so that He might be our substitute. We believe that His first purpose for being born was to live for us perfectly for us in our place because we cannot. Jesus lived for us and then He took all our sins upon Himself in order to suffer and pay the price for our sins, eternal spiritual death, hell in other words. Jesus lived, suffered and died. And yet, death and the grave had no hold over Him for on the third day He rose from the dead for us.
And we believe that as Jesus took our sins, paying the price for us sins, suffering what we should have suffered, at the same time He gives us His righteousness, His innocence, His holiness. Indeed, what we owe, eternal spiritual death He paid. And what we are given is what He earned, forgiveness, life and salvation.
“Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Thanks be to God that the Christ, Jesus did not come down and save only Himself. Rather, thanks be to God that He lives for us, that He suffered for us, that He died for us, that He rose for us. Thanks be to God that He gives us faith, forgiveness and life. Thanks be to God for His truly indescribable gifts. And to Him be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.