Summary: It is curiously odd that people who are filled with horrified indignation whenever a cat kills a sparrow can hear the story of the killing of God told Sunday after Sunday and not experience any shock at all.
“Why did you go, Why did you die?”
The mother of a nine-year-old boy named Mark received a phone call in the middle of the afternoon. It was the teacher from her son’s school.
"Mrs. Smith, something unusual happened today in your son’s third grade class. Your son did something that surprised me so much that I thought you should know about it immediately." The mother began to grow worried.
The teacher continued, "Nothing like this has happened in all my years of teaching. This morning I was teaching a lesson on creative writing. And as I always do, I tell the story of the ant and the grasshopper:
"The ant works hard all summer and stores up plenty of food. But the grasshopper plays all summer and does no work.
"Then winter comes. The grasshopper begins to starve because he has no food. So he begins to beg, ’Please Mr. Ant, you have much food. Please let me eat, too.’" Then I said, "Boys and girls, your job is to write the ending to the story."
"Your son, Mark, raised his hand. ’Teacher, may I draw a picture?’
"’Well, yes, Mark, if you like, you may draw a picture. But first you must write the ending to the story.’
"As in all the years past, most of the students said the ant shared his food through the winter, and both the ant and the grasshopper lived. A few children wrote, ’No, Mr. Grasshopper. You should have worked in the summer. Now, I have just enough food for myself.’ So the ant lived and the grasshopper died.
"But your son ended the story in a way different from any other child, ever. He wrote, ’So the ant gave all of his food to the grasshopper; the grasshopper lived through the winter. But the ant died.’
"And the picture? At the bottom of the page, Mark had drawn three crosses."
• Title of Sermon: “Why did you go, Why did you die?”
• Scripture Text: Romans 5
The Bible explains that the human condition is serious indeed.
• We are fundamentally at odds with God; the technical term is total depravity.
- "Total depravity means not that at every point man is as bad as he could be, but that at no point is he as good as he should be" (J.I. Packer).
• Romans 5 includes words about our condition, like "powerless" and "sinners."
• Sin has had a debilitating impact in our lives; we are powerless.
Do we see ourselves as totally depraved? Has that sunk in? Do we believe it?
• What we do is a manifestation of who we are.
- We are guilty of sins of commission and sins of omission.
• By holding us accountable, God regards us as creatures of significance.
• God wants me to know three things:
- I’m accountable to him; 2) he is just, holy; 3) he is indignant about our sin.
• Because of these things, we are all under the wrath of God.
God’s divine compassion is the antidote to our total depravity, to our sin.
• "While we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly" (Rom. 5:6).
• Compassion isn’t just a feeling; compassion is demonstrated by action.
• God loves us so much that he let his Son die on a cross for us.
It is curiously odd that people who are filled with horrified indignation whenever a cat kills a sparrow can hear the story of the killing of God told Sunday after Sunday and not experience any shock at all.
Where do these great truths leave us, then?
• The eternal conclusion is that we have been justified by Christ’s blood.
- All I have done has been blotted out, utterly forgiven, as if I’d never sinned.
• We have been saved from wrath through Christ.
• We have the Holy Spirit living within us.
Our son coughed a little during one Saturday night. At church the next day he started running a fever, and as his temperature went up he started having trouble breathing. We left the service early, and by nightfall he was struggling to draw each breath.
No doctor had officially labeled the problem yet. I grew up with asthma. I know all about the days missed from school, the constant medication, and the innumerable trips to the doctor. I have known the bitter disappointment of preparing for months for a sports event only to experience a sudden attack that robs strength, breath, and the opportunity to compete.
I thought of all this as I tried to help my son get to sleep that night. I rubbed between his shoulders, which were hunched in the way asthmatics naturally roll their shoulders to take the pressure off their lungs. I listened to him inhale in wheezing misery and exhale through lips pursed as his body instinctively tried to create back pressure to expand his bronchial tubes another micro-millimeter.