Summary: Typically we see the cross from the viewpoint of the suffering of Jesus, this message invites the hearer to see that mission is a key part of the business of the cross.
“The Business of the Cross”
(Special thanks to Dr. Kent R. Hunter with David L. Bahn, Confessions of a Church Growth Enthusiast, (Corunna, IN: Church Growth Center, 1997 for many of the insights of this message)
3:21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. (22) This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, (23) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (24) and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (25a) God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.
INTRODUCTION: Two sides of the cross.
All of my life has been spent in the Northern Hemisphere of planet earth. I always figured, though I never gave it much thought, that water always went down the drain the same way. From those who have lived in the Southern Hemisphere of our great planet, I am told the water swirls down in the opposite direction. This due to a phenomenon called Coriolis, the centrifugal force of the spin of the earth. Now I knew that when it is winter here, it was summer in Australia, but I guess I never realized that people in the Southern Hemisphere see a different sky at night, with a whole different set of stars.
For most of my life, I have seen the cross from only one side. It is an important side, it is the side of the suffering of the cross:
Suffering: Paul says, “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death--even death on a cross!” -- Philippians 2:8. Jesus suffered the worst, so that my sins and your sins might be forgiven, and that we might have life with God. This is an important side of the cross, because it is the heart of what we believe and what makes us Christ Lutheran Church.
Yet, there is a second side of the cross. I guess I had missed it because it looks from Jesus viewpoint, and all to often I get caught up in my own. This second side is:
Seeking: Jesus said, “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” -- John 12:32. Folks, this is the heart and soul of outreach. This is why we are still on this planet. God’s desire is not only to bring you to a faith relationship with Him through the cross of Jesus Christ, but also to bring others. Today we look at the cross from Jesus’ view of our world, we want to look at:
The Business of the Cross
The business of the cross is built on 4 key concepts:
CONCEPT 1. The purpose of the cross is SALVATION. Paul says, “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel--not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”-- 1 Corinthians 1:17-18
Paul Loetz took a bad fall that left him with a punctured lung, broken ribs, and internal bruising. Lying in an emergency room, barely conscious, he probably thought things couldn’t get much worse. But they did.
As he looked up from his hospital bed, the two doctors responsible for his care began arguing over who would get to put a tube into his crushed chest. The argument became a shoving match and one doctor threatened to have the other removed by security.
“Please, somebody save my life,” Loetz pleaded as doctors fought over him.
The two doctors were debating procedure. While they were debating two other physicians assumed responsibility for the patient and saved his life.
The purpose of the cross is salvation. This is why Jesus came. This is what we remember this Lenten season.
CONCEPT 2. The ultimate goal of the cross is FORGIVENESS. As Paul said, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” -- Romans 3:23-24
On Good Friday, when Jesus died, there were 3 crosses on the hill. One man summed up what those crosses stand for by saying. One cross portrays a thief dying in sin. The other thief’s cross shows a thief dying to sin. The center cross speaks of the Redeemer dying for sin.
On this Ash Wednesday, we offer the opportunity to place ashes on our forehead in the sign of the cross, a reminder that the business of the cross is forgiveness. Jesus Christ has paid the price for us.