Summary: Applying some characteristics of "the way of the cross" to our marriages can lead to a blessed home.
The Way of the Cross Leads (to a Blessed) Home
Text: Colossians 1:19-23
Last Sunday was Mother’s Day as we began a series of lessons on marriage and the home that will continue through Father’s Day. My dad was a preacher. Although he loved to sing, he really couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket as far as musical ability went. But, like most preachers in small congregations, occasionally he would have to lead a song. When those occasions arose, one song he would always lead was a song we sang earlier – The Way of the Cross Leads Home. As Christians, we know that the cross makes heaven possible for us. For the next few minutes, I want us to apply some characteristics of the cross of Calvary to our homes and how they can bless our homes. I’ve entitled the lesson “The Way of the Cross Leads (to a Blessed) Home.” We need Christian homes and I don’t just mean that daddy and mommy have been baptized. I’m talking about homes where the kingdom of God and His righteousness are the number one priority. I’m talking about homes where our greatest desires are to please God and spend eternity in heaven. That’s what the cross is all about! So we hope you’ll open your Bibles as we study together for the next few minutes. We also hope that you’ll be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11 and search or examine the scriptures daily to make sure we’re preaching and teaching the truth.
Perhaps no image evokes as many emotions as the cross. If you visit Jerusalem, you can walk what is known as the Via Dolorosa – Latin for the Way of Sorrows. It is a path of some 2,000 feet with what are known as the 14 Stations of the Cross – retracing the steps of Jesus from His trial before Pilate to His tomb. As we reflect on our Lord’s arrest, mock trials, scourging, stumbling under the weight of the cross and cruel crucifixion, there are a couple of terms that come to mind. I want to briefly address these before we get into the thrust of our lesson. The first word is suffering. Notice Mark 8:31 – And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. While we can’t even imagine how much our Lord suffered, marriage is not supposed to be about suffering. Yes, we marry for better or for worse and promise to stay together in sickness and in health. There will always be low points in a marriage due to such circumstances but marriage is not something we are to suffer through. If you are suffering in your marriage, you need to seek help. Even if your spouse refuses, you need to get help – for your own mental well-being. Thankfully, our elders have provided the resources for this help if we’ll only take advantage of them. The second term I want us to examine is shame based on Hebrews 12:2 which reads, “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Shame should not be a part of our marriage and there are two areas I want to mention. First of all, there should be no sexual shame in a marriage as long as spouses are faithful to one another. Hebrews 13:4 spells this out and we need to remember that our bodies are not our own – first, they belong to God and, then, to our spouses. Secondly, we all stick our feet in our mouths from time to time but we should never "on purpose" shame our spouses. Sometimes this is done by poking fun at your mate for laughter but, if this is something you do – and both husbands and wives can be guilty of this, nip it in the bud now. With suffering and shame eliminated from our marriages, let’s look quickly at four characteristics of the cross that we can use to build strong, Christian marriages. First of all, the way of the cross was one of sacrifice. If you’ve spent any time at all in the Old Testament, you are familiar with all the animal sacrifices but, as Hebrews 10:4 states, “it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.” Now, notice Hebrews 10:12 – But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, Also, Ephesians 5:2 – And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. And, dropping down to verse 25 of this same chapter: Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, We husbands are to love our wives with the same sacrificial love Christ had for the church – we must be willing to lay down our lives for our wives. That puts a big responsibility on husbands but Ephesians 5:2 puts a responsibility for sacrificial love on all Christians and that begins in the home. What does it mean to sacrifice in a marriage? It means giving up something of importance to you without expecting anything in return. That may mean something as insignificant as a little sleep or it might mean a career. It might mean giving up a hobby or watching TV. It might be foregoing some of the niceties of life so a spouse can stay home with the children. Just as the ultimate sacrifice given by Jesus was necessary to save us from our sins, sacrifice in marriage is doing whatever it takes to make or save a marriage. The second characteristic we see in the way of the cross is submission. This is not a word we like in our vocabulary but Jesus was our greatest example of submission. Notice His words to His disciples in John 4:34 – Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.” Even at the young age of 12, Jesus was anxious to be about His Father’s business. But, we see true submission to His Father’s will in His death on the cross. Remember how He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane? Matthew 26:39-44 – He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”