Jesus’ death calls attention to the depth of our sin, the height of God’s love, and the breadth of our salvation. Let’s consider how His death reconciles us to one another as well as to the Lord.
The Topical series of teachings from Calvary Albuquerque includes various teachings, special services and holiday messages. Some of the special services include; A Valentine's day message, A Mother's Day message, Good Friday and Easter messages, Christmas, New Years, and special worship services.
Publications Referenced: The Fox and the Crow
Figures Referenced: Aesop
Cross Reference: Genesis 3, Matthew 4:8-11, Matthew 16:21-23, Matthew 22:19, Romans 3:23, Romans 5:8, Romans 5:12, Revelation 13:8
Keywords: Death, The Cross
I'm looking at your faces, your grimaces. How many of you wish that you would have put something more on than just the short-sleeve shirt that you came with? Like a jacket, like a goose-down jacket. You just never know, that's why somebody said, one of our friends said, "Never plant flowers have never planned flowers in Albuquerque till after Mother's Day". This is the reason why folks. Well, we're glad that you came, we're glad that you're a part tonight. In lieu of that fact that, it is a little cool, colder, windier, possible rain, I'm going to shoot more from the hip and instead of giving a lengthy Bible study and we're going to take Communion and then, I'm going to have Dennis come out again and minister to us a music.
I just think, the quicker we can get up and move around a little bit, maybe do a two-step or something, the better off we're going to be. And Dennis is good at bringing that. Well, we're here to take the Lord's supper. And the reason we're taking it, because Jesus said to do it and he said to do it often and to do it in remembrance of him. When we take communion, it's because were acknowledging, there's no other way for us to get into God's Kingdom, God's heaven, except for what Jesus did on the cross. I want you to know that.
There was a fable and Aesop's fable that was written about a crow who was sitting on a tree and in the beak of this crow was a piece of meat that he was holding on to. Down below was a fox, and the Fox looking up at the crow was determined he was going to get that piece of meat in the crow's beak. And so, he went up to the crow and he said, "You know, you are a beautiful big bird. You are so beautiful; you should be the king of all the birds in the bird kingdom". But, said the fox, "It's too bad that you don't have a very good voice". Well at that, to prove that he had a decent voice the crow dropped the piece of meat onto the ground and started cawing, "Ka – Ka" to prove that he could sing, of course he couldn't. Immediately the Fox ran and got a piece of meat, took it away and before he left he said, "Now if you could only add intelligence to your other qualifications, you'd be a good king".
There's one thing that is stupid for us and that is to brag or boast in our own goodness. And yet people do it all the time, they want to drop the meat and prove that they can sing, when they can't. And there's nothing we can do, as I mentioned, to get us into God's heaven. So it's stupid to boast and say that we can. Basically, there are two kinds of religions in the world even though they go by many different names, there is only two religions or two approaches to God. Number one, is the religion of human achievement - I can do it, I'll work my way, I'll earn my way. The second is the religion of divine accomplishment. It's either human achievement or divine accomplishment. Human achievement says, "I'll work my way to heaven". Divine accomplishment says, "I can't work my way to heaven, the gap is too big, it cannot be bridged". I have to rest and trust on his work, not my work, the finished work of Jesus Christ".
Now over and over again, in the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus predicted his death and we've been studying this gospel consecutively on Wednesday nights and we've seen how Jesus predicted his death and every time he did, his disciples were bombed out. They were sorrowful or they tried to dismiss it or they tried to persuade Jesus not to do it. In fact, in Matthew 16, when Jesus announced he was going to Jerusalem, Peter said, "Far be it from you Lord, this shall never happen to you". And Jesus said to him if you remember, "Get behind me Satan", you're not thinking like God, you're thinking like man. The reason he said that very firm and very stern rebuked to Peter was simple. The same philosophy that Peter was telling Jesus at that moment was a philosophy that Jesus had heard sometime earlier when he was out in the wilderness and Satan came to him and tempted him. And he said, "If you will bow down and worship me, I will give you the world that you came to purchase on the cross. You don't have to go the hard way, you don't have to go the way of sorrow and suffering and pain. If you'll just indulge me for a second and worship me now. I'll give you what you came for.
At that, Jesus rebuked him and Satan went away. Now Peter like Satan was suggesting that Jesus go the easy way, the pain-free way. In essence Jesus was saying to Peter and over and over again to his disciples there is only one way. I can't go the easy way, there is only one possible way and that is the Way of the Cross, the way of sorrows. And so every time we celebrate communion, we're acknowledging that fact. There's not 20 ways, there is not your way. It is either God's way or the highway, that's it. If you want to get to heaven, you have to come God's way and the way that God established was the way of his Son dying on the cross. That's why Jesus' goal from day one was the cross.
Revelation says he was crucified before the foundation of the world, which means, before Jesus was ever born in Bethlehem, before he ever came to this earth. God knew in heaven that he himself, through the person of Christ must come down to this earth. Why – because what happened in the Garden of Eden with Adam was such a drastic event that it ruined the entire human race, so that the gap between sinful men and holy God was irreconcilable, unless God himself die on the cross and provide salvation.
Paul wrote this in Romans chapter 5 through one man sin entered the world and death through sin. So that death spread unto all men because all have sinned. The proof that everybody is infected with sin says Paul is, "Well, look around, every single person has sinned and has fallen short of the glory of God.
A few weeks ago, I was out with a few of my buddies after an event we had at the Lobo Theater and we having coffee; probably a little too late to be having coffee but enjoying its flavor nonetheless. And my good friend, Kenny, decided to get up and go to the restroom and while he was gone I did my old trick that I've done for so many years, stupid human trick, of pouring salt in his coffee, like a lot of salt. So he comes back to the table, I don't see anything, "Hey, how are you doing?" and he takes a sip of his coffee and he calls a waitress and said, "Something is wrong with this coffee". And I had to confess, you know what's wrong with the coffee? "Me, I'm wrong with the coffee. I ruined it, I put salt in it. I infected it.
No matter what you try to do at that point, once the coffee has been defiled with salt you can't extract the salt out of the coffee. There's no possible way. That's what Adam did to the human race, through one man's sin, the whole humanity, all people were infected in every generation. So no amount of human effort, no amount of sincere religion will ever get a person right with God. That's why communion, that's why the cross.
The cross shows us three basic things. Number one, the cross shows us the depth of our sin. There's an old saying, if you want to know how deep the well is, you determine that by how much rope you have a letdown. If you want to find out how bad humanity was, look at the extreme measure that God used to save us. It shows us the depth of our sin. So if you are ever wondering, "Well, what's the big deal about sin". I don't even like to use the word. I like to use the word hang-ups or boo boos or mistakes but sin is such a harsh word. Just take a look at the cross and look at your savior and my Savior bleeding on the cross and that shows you what sin did to God. It shows us the depth of our sin.
But second when we look at the cross, it shows us the height of God's love. God demonstrated his own love. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. And again, if you ever doubt that God loves you, if you ever doubt that God cares for, you look at the cross and see Jesus dying for you. And Jesus is saying with his arms outstretched, "I love you this much". It shows us the depth of our sin, the height of God's love but it shows us a third thing. It shows us the breadth of our salvation, that there is only one narrow way to get to heaven, to get to God. But that way is open to everyone who will come. Anyone, as Dennis said, can come and be forgiven.
Years ago, there was a husband and a wife who lost their son. The son died, it strained their marriage as so often is the case. And this couple eventually split up and divorced because the strain was just too much, just seeing each other was too painful, it reminded them of the past. And it's so often the case, this couple split up, they divorced and lived in two different parts of the country. She stayed in this city where they were raised, the kids were raised and he went to a town back east. Sometime later, when the husband was in town, happened to be in town on business, he went to the cemetery to the grave of his son. As he looked down at his son's grave, he looked up and suddenly he saw his divorced wife, his ex-wife, standing at the same grave with a tear in her eye. The first response was to flee and go the other direction but because they both had a mutual interest in the same dead son they grabbed each other's hands. They prayed together and eventually they were reconciled. They were reconciled you might say over the death of their son.
The way that we are reconciled to God and listen, the way we get reconciled to each other, is because we have a mutual interest in the cross of Jesus Christ and the grave from which Jesus rose from the dead and conquered death. So you know what, no matter what somebody has done to you or you've done to somebody else, there is no good reason to hold a grudge, not forgive and not be reconciled. There's no good reason. God made a way for you and God made a way for that person that you don't like. God made a way for that person who doesn't like you. So at some point we also with the love of God need to be willing to forgive and reconcile because of the death of Jesus Christ, the only way for our forgiveness gives us the way to forgive one another.
I'm going to pray and I'm going to ask the fellows to pass out the Communion to you. The convenient little peel tops that we're used to outside, and I'm going to ask as I pray, Dennis to come up.
Father, thank you, thank you for the painful decision of leaving heaven, coming to the earth, the obedience of your son, your only begotten son the Lord Jesus Christ, who took upon himself our sin. And just as through one man, sin entered the world and death through sin and death spread to all. So also by one man, we are reconciled to you by one man's obedience. Many are made righteous. By one man's obedience and sacrifice, we are sprinkled and we are washed clean by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. We celebrate Lord that it is not our goodness, it's not our morality, it is not our religious affections, it is not at all by human achievement. It's totally by divine accomplishment.Thank you for what you've accomplished individually with us and thank you for reconciling all of us as men and women brothers and sisters in the same family of God the church. Lord many of us wouldn't hang out with each other normally, but you brought us together because we have a mutual interest in the cross, in the grave, from which Jesus conquered death and gave us hope of eternal life. And so Lord, as we take these elements I pray you drive these truths home. And I pray Lord that with that truth in our hearts, we would be so filled with forgiving love. Reconciling love, that we just wouldn't allow walls to be built, grudges to be harbored, bitterness to be nurtured but we would allow Jesus to rain even in those deep and dark areas, in Jesus name and everybody who agreed say, Amen.