• Rev. Joseph A. Bias

The Message of Christ’s Suffering and Death

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:3-6

There is something very different about the world of two generations ago and at the same time, many things are very much the same in this current genration, particularly things fundamental to human nature.

For all of our western civilization’s technical and communication “advances” people are still driven by their basic human natures, the need for food, for shelter, for sleep/rest, for physical activity work/recreation, and the intangibles, for a sense of purpose, for enjoyment/pleasure, for self-expression to be heard to be cared for, to interact and emotionally connect with other human beings, to be valued and appreciated and most fundamentally to be loved and to love. The center of fulfillment of all of these is tied to the one thing we were most uniquely created to do, worship.

Every part of what makes us created in the image and likeness of God is our ability to recognize and respond to the worthiness of God. We were made to worship the One Who Created us, to worship Him with our heart, our soul, mind, (intellect, emotions and reason) and strength (our bodies, our mouths, hands, feet, eyes, ears, our whole body). All of these are instruments of worship given to us by God. And we are at our most fulfilled and empowered when we submit them all to glorifying God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

“And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” Romans 6:13

“I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.” Romans 6:19

That we are by nature given to sin has not changed since the fall of mankind. Men and women still sin and fall short of the glory of God. Though the communications media shines a spotlight on the failures, false steps and wrong actions of a few people and recounts them well past the time most people would have forgiven and forgotten them and moved on, the truth is still, all people have been in a state of sinfulness since the fall of Adam and Eve.

The news and information media whether of truth or false witness are committed to filling the airways with a continuous rehearsal of every word ever spoken by anyone regardless of age or circumstance and demands they be held accountable for things spoken in haste, in jest, in ignorance or in naiveté and later regretted and recanted as though they still are true of them today. It is the nature of men to magnify the misdeeds of others while hiding their own or dismissing them as irrelevant.

I wonder how much gossip and dredging-up of the past human frailties and failures of others we would hear about if every one reporting them as news had to have, at the same time, their misdeeds and failures exposed in equal measure. Yes.

In fact, this is exactly what Jesus modeled when the woman caught in adultery was brought to Him to be judged and stoned “according to the law.” He said to the angry mob accusing her let the sinless one among you cast the first stone at her.

“So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” John 8:7-11

Similarly in another instance Jesus addressed those who are quick to judge and present themselves as the “righteous” correctors of other’s shortcomings and pay little or no attention to their own.

“And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5

Evil must be exposed but those who expose it must do it with a sense of humility, not prideful arrogance and self-righteous posturing.

The Apostle took an even more rigorous posture as a teacher and minister to others. He said,

“But [like a boxer] I buffet my body [handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships] and subdue it, for fear that after proclaiming to others the Gospel and things pertaining to it, I myself should become unfit [not stand the test, be unapproved and rejected as a counterfeit].” 1 Corinthians 9:27 AMP

The message of the cross is that Jesus forgave us all and died in our place for our sins. Now we who are forgiven must forgive and share the message of forgiveness with the whole world. Some will reject it but many will gladly receive it, believe and be saved.

His death and resurrection were not endured so that He could bring condemnation, but to bring forgiveness, redemption, transformation and restoration to wholeness, to bring life and that more abundantly, to bring healing and joy to life unspeakable and full of glory, to bring fulfillment in every way, to bring purpose, enriching relationships, caring, peace, joy and love, more than we could ever contain.

This broken world will be put right again. Yes. Judgment will come, but that is God’s work and His alone. Ours is to proclaim His mercy, forgiveness, grace and love.

This is the message of Easter. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son; that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:16-17



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