Summary: The world has its way of identifying winners and losers. But then, so does the cross.
“Cross Currents: Who’s the Biggest Loser?”
1Cor. 15:1-8, 20-28
Most of us do not think of losing as a good thing. Losing is the last thing we want to do. Just ask the 62 teams who are no longer in the NCAA tournament. Yet sometimes losing can be good. One of the popular reality series on television in recent years focuses on the biggest loser; it helps people who have become extremely overweight lose weight – and then celebrates who loses the most weight. On that show being the biggest loser is being the biggest winner. With this backdrop, as I read the Resurrection passages I wondered “Who’s the biggest loser because of Easter?” And is it a title worth celebrating or not?
In 1st Corinthians 15 Paul introduces us to the first big loser. (3) “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures…” At his death Jesus DUMPED OUR SIN. Isaiah had prophesied (53:3-6 NLT) “He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief… But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all.” Peter put it this way (1 Pt. 2:24) “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree…” Paul added that Jesus not only bore and carried our sins but (2 Cor. 5:21) “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us…” Is it any wonder Jesus spent time in agony in Gethsemane? He was facing not only the torture of crucifixion but also of becoming sin. JESUS TOOK INTO HIMSELF EVERY SIN ever committed up to that point, and every sin committed since that time. We cannot even imagine the weight burden. Jesus became the repository for all the garbage of our lives.
So, as believers, we are big losers – we have lost all our sin and guilt. In Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, the main character Christian follows the road to the foot of the cross. Bunyan wrote, “So I saw in my dream, that just as Christian came up to the Cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back and began to tumble, and so continued to do till it came to the mouth of the sepulcher, where it fell in, and I saw it no more.” So after His death Jesus went to the great abyss of hell, took all our sins off from Himself and DUMPED THEM INTO THE DEPTHS, never to be seen again. He looked up and proclaimed, “Your sins are forgiven. You have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. You are clean.”
Remember what happened when the women went to anoint Jesus’ body? The angel told them to “Go, tell His disciples and Peter, He is going ahead of you into Galilee.” Why single out Peter? Because Jesus knew that the impetuous Peter was still beating himself up for denying he knew Jesus, still aching over abandoning Jesus at the most crucial hour of his life. Jesus knew that Peter might not dare meet with him because of his guilt - and Jesus wanted to restore him. So Jesus made sure he had a special invitation to experience grace and forgiveness. And Jesus extends the same invitation to you today. No matter what your sins, no matter how heavy the guilt, you are forgiven. Listen to the promises of God from his Word. (Ps. 103:8-13) “The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” (Is. 1:18) “…though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; thought they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” (Is. 44:22) “I have swept away your transgression like a cloud, and your sins like mist.” (Rom. 8:1) “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Col. 2:13-14) “God made you alive together with Christ, when he forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us…He set this aside, nailing it to the cross.” (1Jn. 1:7) “…the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.”