Summary: A Communion Sermon
OUTSIDE THE CITY GATE
* Special Thanks to Randall Denny of Spokane Valley Church of the Nazarene for the Sermon idea
Sermon Objective: A Communion Service
A couple taking a cruise on a transatlantic ocean liner awoke one morning and saw dark, threatening clouds on the horizon. They decided this would be a good day to have breakfast in the room so they called for room service.
When the steward arrived with their meal he made a comment about the impending storm and his curiosity about how it would be to ride one out on a ship.
The steward replied with “Oh, we have already come through that storm. It is behind us.”
Made aware of the storm clouds of sin, life can become threatening and dark too. Experiencing Jesus’ forgiveness brings us to the realization that we too have already come through the storm of judgment – it is behind us.
My recent studies for Holy Week 2008 have focused on the crucifixion. I have been reminded that I have absolutely no other hope of surviving the storm of judgment apart from God’s grace as expressed on the cross.
A tragedy struck a home one evening. It caught on fire in the dead of night. As the father awoke to the smoke alarms he began to scurry to rescue his family. He passed through the fire into his daughter’s room, scooped her up, wrapped her in a blanket and made his way back down the flame-engulfed hall.
The little girl came through without so much as a singed hair but daddy right hand and arm were permanently scarred by the inferno.
From then on he would greet people with his left hand; keeping his right arm out of sight as much as possible. Whenever his daughter was with him, even when she was a teenager, she would proudly reach, take her father’s twisted hand and proudly tell the new friend of her father’s bravery.
At his death, the funeral home, trying to be kind, also kept his right arm out of sight. When the daughter discovered that the hand would not be visible in the casket for the viewing she insisted that other arrangements be made and that the hand be placed across the left for everyone to see. “That hand was wounded for me” she tearfully explained.
Never let the truth of Jesus’ costly and redemptive rescue grow dim.
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5)
Our redemption was premeditated, prescribed, and precise. Everything required was accomplished through Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. Hebrews 13:8-13 emphasizes this.
8Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
9Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them. 10We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat.
11The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. 12And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. 13Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore.
There were more aspects to Christ’s suffering that we sometimes give consideration. For example, it is significant that it took place “outside the city gate.”
OUTSIDE THE CITY GATE WAS THE PLACE OF REJECTION
The Hebrews understood the imagery that the author was using here. It did not need to be described to them as it does to us.
It originates with the worship in the tabernacle … the temporary and portable temple / city of the Old Testament.
The area “outside the camp” was a “no-man’s land.”
A. “Outside the camp” lived foreigners.
This is where Gentiles who traveled with the Hebrew nomads were required to live. They had no place within the community.
B. “Outside the camp” lived the leprous, infirmed, and suffering.
All who were considered unclean or contagious were “excused” from the community. They were required to live amongst the foreigners and the squalor.
C. “Outside the camp” was the place of execution for those who broke God’s laws.
D. “Outside the camp” was a waste dump.
There was an area “outside the camp” that was used to discard the sacrificial carcasses from the tabernacle.
OUTSIDE THE CITY GATE WAS THE PLACE OF IDENTIFICATION
The writer of Hebrews applied the above to Jerusalem and, especially to the sacrifice of Jesus.