Summary: A sermon on the sanctity of human life and the gospel (Outline and thoughts taken from the book, Life in the Spirit: Spiritual Formation in Theological Perspective, chapter 12 by David P. Gushee)
Francis Schaeffer said that “cultures can be judged in many ways, but eventually every nation in every age must be judged by this test: How did it treat people? Our own is not exception. Those who regard individuals as expendable raw material do battle on many fronts with those who see each person as unique and special, worthwhile, and irreplaceable.” 1
Matthew 22:37-40: Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
How can we have a better understanding of the sanctity of human life? By applying the Great Commandment. We cannot love the Lord as we should unless we understand the gospel.
What is the gospel? The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. More to it than that.
The sanctity of human life covers more than just abortion, or euthanasia. It covers also how we treat other people, human rights. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
The gospel takes the sanctity of human life higher than even this statement by Jefferson took it.
Thesis: How does the gospel advance the sanctity of human life?
The First Incarnation
John 1:14: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
The great divide between man and God was bridged by Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The Son of God took on human flesh, suffered humiliation and death at our hands and bears our sins as our suffering servant.
Because God came in the form of man, God lowered himself and elevated humanity. By this act, God showed us the value of humanity. We are made in God’s image, this is true and wonderful, but to think that God became one of us?
Since God became man, no human being can be seen as worthless. No human life should be treated cruelly. Human dignity cannot be confined to only a few groups but to all the world. John 3:16: For God so loved the world...
Since Jesus life included every stage of human existence, from conception to death and even resurrection, then this elevates the dignity of every human being at every stage of existence.
When Jesus was on the earth, he was hungry, thirsty, suffered and died, and he experienced all things of the human condition. Hebrews 2:14: Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity
Some heresies in the past and even today try to say that Jesus Christ did not come in the flesh. 2 John 7: Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.
What happens to humans (body, soul/spirit) matters to God and must matter to us. What happens to people’s bodies must matter to us because God came in a body in Jesus Christ. Past 2,000 years Christians have been in the forefront of medical advancements, hospitals, etc 2
Even our Constitution is concerned about the human condition even in punishment. The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution states that "cruel and unusual punishments [shall not be] inflicted".3
However, in the time of Jesus they did not have such a concern. Why? Because some people were inferior while others were special. By the incarnation Jesus shows us that all humans are special. Romans 3:23- All have sinned... We are all equal at the cross. The ground is level at Calvary. If all have sinned this means that there is equality. Everyone stands equal in our need for the sacrifice that Jesus offered at the cross.
Paul reminds us that Christ laid down his life not just for friends but also for enemies. Romans 5:10: For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
Matthew 5:44: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.
At that time they did not believe in equality, so the body of Jesus was nailed to a cross. On that cruel Roman cross Jesus suffered and died. We grieve over Christ’s grief, we anguish over Christ’s anguish. We need to extend that same concern to all who suffer bodily humiliation. It should motivate us to compassionate concern and intervention on behalf of all those who suffer.