Summary: A sermon on reconciliation to God (Material adapted from Leon Morris' book, The Atonement: It's Meaning and Significance, Chapter 6, Reconciliation)
When Elizabeth married the famous poet Robert Browning, her parents were so upset they disowned her. She and her husband settled far from home in Florence, Italy. Elizabeth loved her mother and father and did everything she could to be reconciled with them. Several times a month she wrote expressive, loving letters. After 10 years without any response, finally, a package came from her parents. It was a happy moment for Elizabeth as she opened it. But inside she found all of the letters she had sent- unopened. Like her husband, Elizabeth was a poet and her letters of reconciliation were eloquent. They have been called “some of the most beautiful and expressive in all English literature.” But her parents never read them. Jesus Christ, like Elizabeth, went to extreme measures in a reconciliation attempt. He died so sinful men could be reconciled to God. It breaks his heart that many refuse to even read the letter of Calvary’s love.
Today is Palm Sunday. Remember Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem where he was riding on a donkey, the people padded his path with coats and palm branches, the crowds were chanting, “Hosanna! Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” There was quite a commotion. Jesus came into Jerusalem like a King, the Messiah, Christ.
Must remember that later in that same week, he was crucified as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. What a turn of events!
Leading up to Easter we are talking about the atonement. The “At One” Ment. Last week we talked about Christ’s death on the cross, and how this redeemed us from slavery to sin and set us free to serve God. Sunday evening we talked about how Christ’s death on the cross turned away God’s wrath from us. This is called Christ’s propitiation for our sins.
This morning we are talking about reconciliation. Reconciliation means “restore to friendship”, “make up after a quarrel”. This is not a word of good relations. It means good relations followed by enmity (hatred). Friendship, then enmity, then friendship again.
Thesis: Reconciliation brings out 6 thoughts
1. Sin is the barrier to reconciliation
Sin is the problem in the relationship between God and man so reconciliation must begin here
Had man not sinned there would be no need for reconciliation, but all mankind has and continues to sin. The evil we do puts a barrier between us and God.
Sin also alienates us from each other but the worst is that it alienates us from God. This needs emphasis in a day like our own when people take sin so lightly. It does not worry us and for the life of us we cannot see why it should worry God. But the Bible is clear. Sin forms an impassible barrier. Sin keeps us away from God. “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” Isaiah 59:2.
2. Sin must be dealt with if there is to be reconciliation
At the heart of reconciliation is the idea that getting people together means dealing with whatever it was that was keeping them apart.
The cross reminds us that there can be no real fellowship between God and us until the barrier of sin has been taken out of the way.
It will not go away by wishing. Sometimes we believe that, if we sit quietly and wait, any unpleasant thing will go away. It will not. This does not happen regularly in ordinary life and it does not happen in the matter of sin that separates us from God.
This is difficult for many to accept. It is not difficult for us to see that we must change our attitude and turn away from such things as selfishness. But that sin forms a real barrier shutting us off from God, and that this must be dealt with, is not obvious to us
The NT keeps telling us that it was the death of Christ that effected reconciliation, that it was the cross that made peace between God and man. “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” Romans 5:1, NIV.
3. There is real hostility between God and sinners
Wrath of God is not just figure of speech but real. God hates every evil thing.
“God expresses his wrath every day.” Psalms 7:11, NIV. Why? God wants us to be the best we can be, and when we make ourselves into lesser people we arouse his wrath and destroy all hope of fellowship with him.
Real love will always be opposed to evil in the beloved. E.H. Gifford said, “Human love here offers a true analogy: the more a father loves his son, the more he hates in him the drunkard, the liar, or the traitor.” We must not overlook the fact that real love has its stern side toward the beloved.