Summary: When Jesus died, the veil of the Temple was torn from top to bottom. What does this teach us about Jesus and the message of Christianity?
OPEN: Several years ago I was flipping thru the channels on my TV set and came across a scene of a well-known sitcom of the day. It was a courtroom comedy that I really didn’t like all that much, but what I saw on the screen at that moment caught my attention. The judge was sitting alone in his chambers, twirling a basketball in his hands, and having a monologue discussion with God. He spoke of the uncertainties of his own life and spoke with thanksgiving of what he had seen God do. It was riveting TV - open, honest and reverent. Then, at the end of his soliloquy, the judge took his basketball and tossed it up through a hoop… that was mounted on a wooden cross situated in the room.
It was a comedy. It was supposed to make me laugh - but I was infuriated.
As I was preparing this morning’s message, I got to thinking back on that scene, and it occurred to me that this sitcom’s writers were trying to make a statement. They were trying to say that they believed in a god… but not the kind of God we believe in. They were offended by Christianity and by Jesus.
It offended them that Jesus claimed "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
It offended them that Christians would believe that “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12
To those TV writers all religions were equal. All faiths would lead to God. But Christianity offended that belief, and so this sitcom sought to find a way to offend Christians.
Last week, The Final Four came to an end. March Madness came to a close. What had started out as a major competition between 64 men’s college basketball teams ended with a match-up between Ohio and Florida.
Just by way of disclosure: I was rooting for Ohio. Since Indiana didn’t have a dog in the fight, it seemed only right to cheer for a neighboring State.
However, as good a team as Ohio had, they lost a well fought game to a better team. Their match-up was the final competition of the season. The winner of that game was proclaimed the champion - the best team in the nation.
Now, champions of the Final Four change from year to year… but the articles by sports analysts the next day were almost unanimous in saying that Florida State not only had the best team of this particular season… in their opinion Florida’s was best team to ever compete in the history of the Final 4.
It was the quality of the team as it worked together.
It was their history of accomplishments throughout the year
And it was the comparison of Florida statistics - with all the teams that had gone before that made it obvious to these commentators that this was the best team ever. There were OTHER great teams… but in the final analysis it all came down to this:
By their works, Florida proved they were the best.
APPLY: There are those who try to tell us that ALL religions are the same. They try to tell us that Christianity is only one of many good ways to please God. But in the final analysis… it all comes down to this:
By the cross Jesus proved that that type of thinking was wrong.
By the cross Jesus proved that faith in Him is the best.
By the cross Jesus proved that He WAS the way, the truth and the life and that no one is ever going to be acceptable to God without Him.
It’s at the cross - we see the advantage Christianity has over all other world religions.
The Bible tell us “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” Roman 3:23.
Every individual in every culture on the face of the earth understands this. It’s what’s known as a universal truth. And every world religion tries to deal with that truth.
Some call it “Karma”. Karma is the teaching that our suffering in life is due to “bad” Karma (bad deeds). And the objective in all the world’s religions is to counteract that bad Karma (the bad things I’ve done) by doing an equal number of good things. Most world religions supply their followers with a moral guideline that helps them determine what constitutes this "good" and "bad" Karma.
ILLUS: It helps to visualize this. (I had a “balance” scale on a table nearby).
What these world religions teach is that every bad deed I do throws my life out of balance (I placed a few items on one side of the scale causing that side to drop down to the table).