Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Why did Jesus have to die? If God is a God of love why would he ever let his own son die such a horrible death? Some critics say that the crucifixion is nothing more than a romantic story of a man who was going through an identity crisis. What do you beli

I have never been able to entirely shake this story out of my head. There once was a man who worked in a small town as the operator of a drawbridge on a river. A train track ran across the bridge, and the operator’s job was to keep the bridge up when no train was coming so that the boats could pass underneath. When a train approached, he was to blow the whistle and let down the bridge. One sunny Saturday morning, the man brought his seven-year-old son along to work with him. The boy could frolic along the river, skip rocks on the water, chase butterflies, or even try to catch a fish.

Shortly before noon, a passenger train was due to come through the area. The man began to make preparations to let the bridge down so the train could pass safely across the river. As he examined the bridge, he noticed that someone—a small child—had somehow climbed over the guardrail next to the bridge, and was playing at the very spot where the bridge would come down. As he looked closer, he realized with horror that the child was his son. In desperation, he yelled out his son’s name, but the sound of the approaching train drowned out his screams. He knew he had to make a quick decision. If he lowered the bridge now his son would die. But if he didn’t, all the people on the train would die as the train plunged into the river. He barely had time to think. As he screamed in agony, the man thrust forward the lever to lower the bridge just as the train arrived. His son died instantly. And as the train passed by, the people just smiled and waved as they passed by the man in the control booth, with his head bowed low, oblivious to what had just taken place. (Adapted with permission from “To Sacrifice a Son” by Dennis Hensley.)

My mind longs to finish this story with another ending. Couldn’t the operator have signaled the train? Couldn’t he have thrown something at his son to gain his attention? Couldn’t he have yelled louder or blown a whistle? Did his son have to die to save the anonymous people on the train? Was another option possible? Why did he care more about the passing strangers than his son? What would you have done if you were in his shoes?

Have you ever wondered why Jesus had to die? You might be able to give a Sunday school answer like; “Jesus died for our sins” or because that was God’s will, but do you really understand exactly what that means? And how does his death affect you and me?

This is my second message in the “foundations” series and today I want to ask figure out if Jesus really had to die and if he did, why?

In order to avoid sounding like a college textbook I am making two general assumptions this morning. The first is that the Bible gives an accurate account of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The Bible says that Jesus is God’s Son, part of the eternal trinity. He is Holy and perfect and true. In Him there is no fault or wrong or evil and I believe that.

The Bible says:

“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48 NIV

The second general assumption is that human beings are not perfect. Some of you may think that you are perfect, but let’s be honest, you’re not. If you have doubts ask a friend or family member what they think.

The Bible says:

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

This makes for a difficult paradox. On one hand you have God who is perfect in every way and on the other hand you have a world full of imperfect people. This thing called free will has seemingly ruined a perfect world. And since we are in the world we have been soiled by the world and its’ utterly impossible for us imperfect people to magically become perfect on our own.

If God is perfect and wants us to be perfect but we cannot become perfect on our own, how can we as the imperfect be in the presence of a perfect God? The perfect and the imperfect cannot live together, it’s impossible. The sinful and the sinless cannot share the same space. It’s like light and dark. If you turn the light on in a dark room the room no longer is dark. It has been transformed into a room full of light.

So the question is, how can a perfect God be reunited with his perfect creation that has been soiled by sin resulting in its imperfection? And to make matters worse, not all of God’s creation wants to be reunited with Him.

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