Becoming Sin For UsSeries: Probing The Passion
BECOMING SIN FOR US
Sermon By Terry Siverd / June 19, 2022 / Cortland Church of Christ - - www.cortlandcoc.org
Welcome to those who are joining us online...Happy Father's Day to all of you dads!
Our New Testaments speaks of The Body and The Table and The Bread and The Cup. There is something about The Table of the Lord that is vital to the development of our faith. I have titled this brief series, “Probing The Passion.”
Acts 20:7 states: on the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul preached...
While we reflect on the passion of the Christ each and every Sunday, I fear that our meditations are sometimes shallow.
The thrust of our reflections are often well intended, but they do not probe deeply enough.
Since The Table of the Lord was and remains so CENTRAL, it's important that we try to discern its meaning more fully.
I know this may sound severe, but sometimes I fear that our time at the Table borders on being a wink and a nod.
It is very important that we guard against hollowing out that which is hallowed (holy).
To illustrate the point I am inviting us to think with me about The Table.
In listening to the words spoken by others as we commune, what seems to be the overriding emphasis?
We can start here by asking, What was the real HORROR of the cross?
Typically, we think of descriptions of the cross that include words like wondrous and glorious.
This morning I want us to contemplate the HORROR of the cross.
Asking this question is much more than chasing after something that intrigues us and more than an academic exercise.
In seeking to answer this question, more often than not our attention is directed to the Lord's pain and suffering.
In particular, we underscore the physical and mental pain and suffering of Jesus during the Cross or the Passion.
Sleep deprivation … scourging … mockings … struck in the face … disciples fleeing … carrying His own cross …
reviled and spat upon … crown of thorns … the nails … the spear … the cumulative torture of the cross itself … etc.
Occasionally we hear ones presiding at the Table who go beyond these elements by alluding to the shame of the cross: clothed with nothing but a loincloth … put to death in the midst of criminals … a “king” with un-loyal followers - - Mt.26:56 notes, Then all the disciples left Him and fled.
In no way do I mean to diminish the pain and suffering of any and all of the above.
The anticipatory anguish (Lk.22:39f), the whip, the crown, the nails, the physical torture and mental
and emotional aspects of the cross event were indeed horrible in and of themselves, but
if we were to inquire of Jesus what it was that caused Him the severest agony, or THE GREATEST HORROR,
I am convinced that His answer would not include any of these things we have ennumerated.
The answer to the inquiry “what was the horror of the cross?” is found in the word FORSAKEN.
This word addresses the most important aspect of the cross - - the spiritual dimension.
In the Old Testament we encounter this thought in words recorded in Isa.53:3 / He was despised and forsaken of men.
This prophetic utterance was spoken concerning one known as “the suffering servant” (i.e., Jesus - - cf. Acts 8:35).
Matthew's gospel contains this word “forsaken”, but there it is cast in a different light.
Yes, Jesus was forsaken by His disciples (they all left Him and fled/Mt.26:56),
but Matthew 27:45-46 uses the ipssisima verba of Jesus to convey the real horror of the cross.
Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon the all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice saying, 'Eli, Eli, lama sabacthani?', that is 'My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?'
This prayer is not an insight into the sorrow Jesus felt in witnessing His apostles and other disciples forsaking Him.
Here then is the answer to identifying the true horror of the cross.
These words of prayer, spoken by Jesus the Son to God the Father are recorded in a bi-lingual manner:
Why have YOU forsaken ME?
The horror of the cross was that it rendered Jesus to be God-forsaken.
Isaiah 53:4 speaks of one SMITTEN OF GOD (Isa.53:4). While a secondary definition of smitten is: to affect sharply with deep feelings, the primary definition is: to inflict a heavy blow...to afflict retributively; chasten or chastise.
Why would the loving Father smite and forsake His only-begotten and dearly-beloved Son?
To answer this question in a truly biblical way will increase exponentially our appreciation of the cross.
And subsequently, it will transform and deepen our thoughts each and every Sunday when we gather 'round The Table.
With today's sermon, which I have titled, Becoming Sin For Us, I am hoping to both broaden our understanding of the cross and deepen our love for God - - it is to take a mental journey into the mysterium tremendum, a term coined by a German scholar in the early 20th century to speak of the holiness of God, which is a - - a tremendous mystery.
“God, because in his mercy he willed to forgive sinful men, and, being truly merciful, willing to forgive them righteously, that is, without in any way condoning their sin, purposed to direct against his very self in the person of his Son the full weight of that righteous wrath which they deserved.” --- E. B. Cranfield on Rom.3:25 (as noted in John Stott in The Cross Of Christ, pg.134)
Turning again to Isa.53:5-6, 8 & 10 we read of this vicarious (substitutionary) aspect of the passion of the Christ.
He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being
fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed...All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord God caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him...By oppression and judgment He was taken away...He was cut off out of the land of the living, for the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due...
But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering.
Our New Testament overflows with references of the substitutionary death of Jesus.
Gal.1:4 / Christ gave Himself for our sins
Eph.5:2 / Christ gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma
Heb.9:14 / (Christ) offered Himself without blemish to God
As we gather 'round the table each Sunday, our minds need to focus deeply about the fact that Christ died FOR US.
However, as we dwell upon this grand truth we are driven to think of the price by which He secured our forgiveness.
Jesus did not just suffer and bleed, He bore the full weight of that righteous wrath which (we) deserved.
A few chapters later (Isa.59:2) we meet up with this very sobering truth: your iniquities have made a
separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear.
Mk.10:45 states the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a RANSOM for many
This word ransom refers to the price or payment demanded or paid. cf. 1Tim.2:6
To help us more fully comprehend and crystallize this truth here are three citations from the New Testament.
2Cor.5:19 & 21 / God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them...
(God) made Him who knew no sins to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Gal.3:13 / Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us.
1Pet.2:24 / He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to rigtheousness.
I want to close this lesson with one final point.
These NT citations fulfill what was prophesied regarding the events of the day of atonement (Lev.16).
Lev.16:21f / Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it
all the iniquities of the sons of Israel, and all their transgression in regard to all of their sins;
and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness...
This was an ancient forshadowing of the God-forsakenness experienced by our Savior on the cross.