Summary: Because we have been redeemed by God, not gold, God, through Peter, invites us to live differently--in the shadow of the Cross.
“In the Shadow of the Cross”
‘Peter’s Principle’s’ Series
January 25th, 2009
The cross: an instrument of torturous death—capital punishment—an inhumane way to die—one died bleeding and exposed to the elements—an object of ridicule. Jesus did all of that for us—a sinless lamb. He did all of that for me. He endured the cross to take our sin upon himself.
There were only a few who could be counted as faithful in the shadow of the cross that Friday afternoon: The disciples John, Mary Jesus’ mother and few other women. All the other disciples had deserted. All the others were hiding in the shadows. The crowds that lined the shores in Galilee were nowhere to be found. And there was Peter. Peter, with more boldness than follow through, declared that he would never leave Jesus. He would never abandon him. And yet as soon as Jesus was arrested, Peter couldn’t backpedal quick enough. He denied that he even knew Jesus. Instead of standing in the shadow of the cross, he stood in the shadow of confusion, of denial, of fear.
Peter, humiliated by his failure to stand by Jesus didn’t consider himself worthy of even being called a disciple. But after the resurrection, Jesus restored Peter, telling him “feed my sheep”. He gave him a new purpose—building the church—the body of believers—calling men and women to repentance and a life of forgiveness through Jesus.
Lets read I Peter 1:18-2:3
Peter, now a man much older, writes to the church at large and helps them understand what it means to live in the shadow of the cross instead of the shadows of fear. He had been there, and done that. I think that that experience was so pivotal, so key to Peter’s makeup that he cannot escape it. The last thing I want to do is to put words in Peter’s mouth, but if he were here today, I imagine he would be passionately reminding us to stay in the shadow of the cross. Let me humbly suggest that living in the shadow of the cross means acknowledging the cross, learning the example of the cross and it means quite simply, a changed life.
So first, to live in the shadow of the cross means to acknowledge the cross. Verse 18 & 19 say, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”
Peter is not just saying, acknowledge the fact that Jesus went to the cross for you, he is saying, understand, acknowledge, ruminate on the reality that God in the person of Jesus redeemed you with his own body—not with gold or silver. He gave himself. God, not gold, for you. Think about that for a minute; perfection for ruined imperfect me.
Peter who knew the facts of the cross is asking us to go a bit deeper. He knew Jesus died, no one was disputing that. Peter is saying, look—the creator of the universe—the perfect Christ went to the cross for me and you and that is so key to understanding God’s heart for us. Peter, who did not stand with the cross on Good Friday, who did not acknowledge Jesus in the courtyard at his trial, stands ready now to accept the shame of the cross. Because in it’s shame is glory, there is forgiveness.
Peter, I think stands at the foot of the cross, in its shadow and calls to us—come on. Don’t make the mistake I did. Here there is forgiveness, here there is purpose. Here there is the peace of God. I think he might tell us that he lost sight of that fact and let his fear get in the way of his faith. He let the gruesomeness of the cross get in the way of its meaning.
We live in a world in which many people did not grow up in church. We have to be careful in using church-y words, that the meaning of God’s Word is not muddled in our communicating it simply because we use words that people don’t understand. All kinds of people wear the cross around their necks. Rock stars, celebrities and prison inmates tattoo the cross all over themselves. And I cannot tell you what they mean when they wear the cross, but the cross means everything. On the other hand you have people that want to sanitize the cross. Let’s not talk about blood—that’s gross. And I know that it makes some people physically uneasy. My 90 year old grandfather gets a little white anytime anyone talks about blood.
But others go further. We live in a time when many mainline denominations and ‘enlightened’ people have moved to proclaiming only a social gospel instead of proclaiming salvation through the blood of Christ. Some have even gone so far as to remove songs dealing with the blood from their ‘enlightened’ worship. Listen to this quote from a liberal theologian named Delores Williams, “ I don’t think we need folks hanging on crosses and blood dripping and weird stuff.”