Summary: The "Motive" of Christ’s death on the cross is fairly clear in Scripture... but there are people who are offended by that message.
OPEN: (We started the sermon playing the theme music for "CSI Miami". Then commented:)
Some of you may be asking “What in the world was that?”
That was the theme music from the hit TV show “CSI Miami”. There’s CSI, CSI Miami, and CSI New York… and for the next few weeks we’re going to be presenting a series of sermons we call “CSI Jerusalem”.
Does anybody know what CSI stands for? That’s right – “Crime Scene Investigation.”
For the next few weeks we’re going to be looking at the cross from perspective of a “Crime Scene”. We’re going to be Crime Scene investigators, and as with all good Crime Scene Investigators, we’re going to be looking at the following elements of Calvary:
1. The Motive
2. The Crime Scene
3. The Suspects
4. The Evidence
5. The Witnesses
Today, we’ll be looking at the MOTIVE for Jesus dying on the cross. Although, actually, the motive isn’t that hard to find in Scripture. The Bible is exceptionally clear as to why Jesus died:
John 3:16 tells us: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
That passage tells us that the motive for the death of Jesus Christ was this:
1. Jesus died because God loved us
2. And if Jesus had NOT died, we would all perish because of our sins
3. But because He did die, if we believe in Jesus - if we accept Him on His terms and give our lives to Him - then we will not have to face the judgment we deserve for our sins.
That’s what John 3:16 says about the motive for Christ’s death on the cross.
CSI Miami’s theme song has these words in it: “I get on my knees and pray, we won’t be fooled again.” And as I looked at the “Motive” for Christ’s death, I realized there were people who would try to fool us - to deceive us about the reason for Jesus’ dying on the cross.
I. There are theologians out there who will try to convince you
… that Jesus’ death was a mistake
… that He had not intended to die…
… but instead, His goal was to set up His own earthly kingdom
However (according to these supposed experts) Jesus was swept up in political intrigues that He could neither foresee nor control.
You can hear from these authorities several times a year on TV on channels like PBS, The History Channel, the Discovery Channel and several other places on the TV dial.
And these experts write innumerable books and hold highly publicized conferences to discuss why the Jesus of the Bible WASN’T who He said He was.
ILLUS: Back in 1993, several denominations held a conference they called “Re-imaging 1993”
In that conference an Episcopal theologian (Virginia Ramey Mollenkott) declared: “As an incest survivor, I can no longer worship in a theological context that depicts God as an abusive parent and Jesus as the obedient and trusting child”
At this same conference - a doctoral candidate at Union Theological Seminary (Beryl Ingram-Ward) questioned the idea of a “Father God” who would willfully kill his own child: “How can we continue to believe a loving parent would do this when human parents who do this are sent to prison.”
Now, these “theologians” not only question the reasonableness of God offering His son to die, they also tend to question the very idea that God would “interfere” in the course of human history. In 1999, a liberal theologian named Borg stated: “For me to accept that God transformed the corpse of Jesus would not only violate my sense of the limits of the spectacular – but it would also privilege the Christian tradition and would be saying that God acted in Christianity in a way God has never acted in other religious traditions.”
II. Why would these “experts” – these “denominational theologians” - reject the Bible’s clear teaching as to the motive of Jesus’ death on the cross?
Why would they reject the idea that God would care so much for us that He would take our sins upon Himself and die in our place? I mean: they can look at the evidence from Scripture. They can see the purpose for Christ’s death as easily as you and I.
And yet they see all that … and reject that teaching as being offensive. Why???
Well, to say they’re just plain goofy would be the simplest explanation, but I believe there’s something even deeper going on here. Their behavior is symptomatic of a world that is in rebellion against God. Romans 8:7 says “the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.”