3-Week Series: Double Blessing


Summary: Questions that trouble us...why the pain, beatings and blood?

Children have a unique perspective that allows them to keep everything “less scary” in their world. A little boy got concerned when his Daddy, a minister, didn’t come home by the usual time. He finally asked his mother, “Is Dad going around visiting all the sick people?” His mother replied, “No honey, he’s down at the Red Cross Center giving blood.” The boy paused in thought for a moment and then said: “But we know it’s really just grape juice, don’t we Mom?” [1]

The mere thought of a cross, crown of thorns and all that blood can bring waves of questions about the whole idea of sacrifice. Another young boy stood in the church one day looking at the cross behind the pulpit. After a long silence he finally asked the question: Why did Jesus have to die?

Why, indeed! Pontius Pilate asked the same question. When Jesus was dragged before Pilate to move along the plot to kill him, the Roman questioned Jesus, and then said to the crowd:

“…what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13They shouted back, “Crucify him!” 14Pilate asked them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him!” Mark 15:12 - 14 (NRSV)

The question, why was Jesus crucified, sets up a dilemma that has troubled many, even long time believers. We were taught that Jesus died for our sins, but the question sometimes nags – couldn’t God have done it some other way? Why the pain…beatings and shame of the cross?

My Pastor’s Partners[2] surrounded the problem with various thoughts:

• A teenager wrote: Brutality and pain fascinates mankind – we kind of need a slap in the face to get our attention.

• Senior adult:God could’ve handled this any way he wanted…He’s God!

• [our sin caused, a] …great chasm between God and man. Only God, our maker, can repair us. Although I don’t understand why sacrifices were necessary, I can accept that it is God’s way.

Our text explores the problem of God finding a way to deal with our sin, to repair His broken creation.

…without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Hebrews 9:22b (NRSV)

In considering the text please notice two realities about the cost of restoring our relationship with God:

1. Forgiveness is Costly

Forgiveness has to do with clearing up a debt. In the words of the Bible we are all debtors. Our sin causes us to be at odds with God, in debt to God. This is because we were created by Him, and He demands that we live without sin. Only one person, Jesus, ever lived-up to that standard. The rest of us blew that one, big time!

…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; Romans 3:23 (NRSV)

Jesus told a story one time which is a wonderful example of this coming up short. It is the story of the Prodigal Son[3] . A boy wanted to live life his own way – get out from under Dad’s thumb. He convinced his Dad to give him his inheritance, and then he hit the road for the big city and the good life! Now, the young man wasted every cent of his inheritance on partying. He never even thought of home or his father.

When it was all gone he awoke one day in the middle of the pigpen (an awful thing for any Jewish boy). The boy thought to himself something like, Earth to prodigal – Here I sit wallowing in pig town, starving and cold. My Dad’s place – man do I miss home. I belong there; I am outa here!

The boy went home, intending to beg to come back. Everyone listening to the story would have agreed that the father should have made the boy grovel just a little. However, Jesus surprised everyone, and finished off the story with the father’s reaction when he saw his prodigal coming on home…

…But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Luke 15:20 (NRSV)

Jesus told that story to demonstrate how merciful and forgiving God is toward anyone who will turn towards the Father in heaven. That is the grace, or loving side of God.

However there is another side of God that is just as awesome – the justice, or righteousness side. The Bible tells us that the righteousness of God demands payment for sin:

For the wages of sin is death,... Romans 6:23 (NRSV)

There is a cost to the kind of behavior the prodigal son exhibited. When he left home he took half his father’s estate with him; he came back broke. That, beloved, is the cost which his Father bore. The Father had to remit (forgive) the son’s debt, or there could be no fellowship, no restored relationship between them.

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