Sermon on Died
Theme: Crucifixion are necessary truths for our salvation
1. Why crucifixion
2. Why curse
3. Why death
Never say never. You have heard that phrase before. I know children who say that quite regularly. I am never ever ever ever going to play with them again. A couple of seconds later, guess what’s happening?
Never say never. The reason we say it is because it is one of those superlative sorts of words. Its not just big, or bigger, it is the biggest type of term you can think of. Never.
Its also wise to look at our marriages or relationships and avoid words like “always” when caught in the midst of a disagreement. The college roommate goes to his buddy and is fed up. He says to him, “I’ve had it, you always leave your junk laying all over the apartment. You don’t clean up your dishes. And you always leave a blob of toothpaste in the sink after brushing your teeth. You have got to be the most uncleanly person on campus.
We should never use terms l like never or always when we are trying to make a point. They are words that are superlative. They don’t leave any room for a variation from that. And, ultimately, the are never ever ever appropriate, always. Or at least usually. J
Our culture isn’t a big fan of those grand words either. Especially when it comes to the realms of theories or faith perspectives. Yesterday, Pastor Jake lead the funeral service for Alie DeBruyn using a passage that many people do not care for because it is very exclusionary. John 14 says, “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. No one. Ever. Never. Unless. Only. The only one possible way. One way at the exclusion of every other. Jesus Christ is the way.
The articles of the Heidelberg catechism that we are looking at tonight are equally exclusionary. Not only is Jesus Christ the only way to the Father. The only way Jesus Christ did this is through his humiliation to death. This is the only truth about Jesus Christ that leads to salvation. Philippians 2 says, He humbled himself to death. Even death on a cross.
The cross. Crucifixion. We ought not to believe in some faith figure called Jesus. Perhaps his stories are just the collection of ideas of many people during the times of the governer, Pontius Pilate. The truth is in the spirituality that comes out of these stories of Jesus. That’s wrong. Plain and simple. The truth is in fact very exclusionary. What Scripture tells us and what we hear through the Heidelberg catechism is that the only way to eternal life is to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and bore the curse of God when he was crucified.
The section of the apostles’ creed that we are looking at for this evening is actually a portion that lead to quite a stir when the “new” Psalter Hymnal which is 30 years old already came out. Do you remember how the creed used to be said in the CRC. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried. The way we say it now it now got rid of some grammar issues. Was crucified, died and was buried.
The Catechism asks a very interesting question and a question that takes an exclusionary direction with belief about Christ’s death. Q 39 says, “is it significant that he was crucified instead of dying some other way?” The answer says, “Yes. This death convinces me that he shouldered the curse which lay on me, since death by crucifixion was accursed by God.”
Is it significant that Christ died on the cross instead of living to old age, or instead of dying while being whipped by Pilate’s men? Absolutely.
We hear this especially in Galatians 3:13 where it says, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: cursed is everone who is hung on a tree.”
When Paul mentions this being cursed by God when hung on a tree, he is referring to the book of Deuteronomy where it says, “If a man guilty of a capitl offense is put to death and his body is hung on a tree, you must not leave his body on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse. Deuteronomy 21:22-23.
The curse is what we were put under at the fall into sin. When Adam and Eve sinned, the curse was laid on them.
And the covenant God made with his people involves blessings for belonging and following the stipulations of the covenant. But the law also includes punishments, curses for those who do not obey what’s required in the covenant with God.
Christ’s very means of dying is essential to our substitutionary atonement. He hung on the cross so that that curse that was over all humanity due to sin was placed on one man who could bear it all and take it all from us. Cursed was the man who hung on the tree. The man who died there set us free.
Since Christ bore the curse and had God’s face turned away from him, we can be more confident that God is blessing us and keeping us, that his face is shining on us and being gracious toward us. That he turns his face toward us and gives us wholeness and blessing. Christ bore the curse so that we might only have to bear the rewards of God’s blessing.
Why crucifixion? Because that’s the way God had chosen to show his curse was taken off of us and placed on Jesus.
Then as we move on in the apostles’ creed another similar question we could ask after we realize he had to be crucified: Why death?
Why did Jesus have to actually obediently suffer and be cursed by God, and then on top of that go all the way to dying? Why did innocent Jesus have to die?
The catechism answers it in a way that goes even deeper than we might dare to go today. We might say something like, “well the greatest enemy we all face is death. In order to beat death Jesus had to go down into death and win the victory.”
If you said something like that, you would be right. Death is the great enemy that we all face. This week we experienced in a deep way right in our own church family. Saying good bye to two people of our congregation. Death is a ripping apart of body and soul. It’s a pulling away of families. It`s the enemy that every single one of us without exception will be facing at some point. Death.
No matter how we talk about death or how we try to celebrate a person`s life at a funeral, what hangs over the time is grief. Perhaps its an inner sense that we all have that life is not as it could have been. Death has taken one more and our mortal enemy has not been completely destroyed yet. Oh we wait for that day!
We might say, death is the final enemy, that`s why Christ had to die, to defeat the final enemy. But listen to how the catechism answers the question. Answer 40 says, “Because God’s justice and truth demand it: only the death of God’s Son could pay for our sin.
The Catechism leans on the unchangeable attributes of God. He is just and truthful. When he makes a judgement it is fair and he follows through on it. When he says something, he means it. Christ death is more than a defeat of our enemy. Christ`s death is God being God. God being just and being truthful to what he has said.
Genesis 2:17 warns all people that if we eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil we will surely die.
Once again, words that don’t allow any sort of wiggle room. Slice of Forbidden Fruit. Sideeffect-certain death.
Adam and Eve take their bites of fruit. The resulting punishment from a just judge would be the carrying out of this certain death. God says death is the punishment, and so it is. The only way to atone for the rebellion again is to fulfill God’s judgement. There must be death.
The commander of the 8 Wing Trenton may be found guilty of the murders in the area. The laws on the books involve a lot of jail time. Justice demands that if found guilty his isn’t given a cookie and sent home. That is not just and right.
So too with death. We get off scott free after sinning. It is not fair. It is completely unfair. And it would make God out to be a liar. He promised. Eat the fruit and die.
So already at the fall it was set in place that death had to happen.
In this last week we experienced death very closely two more times. Twice we saw our loved one without life. Twice we were called to stand with loved ones of ours in their grief. Twice this week we were shown again that death is in fact an enemy that is still present.
Christ by his death, went into death. And defeated it. Christ had to go to death to show that God is the just and truthful judge.
That is the reason that we stand together and say in the creed that we believe that Christ was crucified and died. That is the way that God showed he is completely just.
And he is completely merciful. I want to read the words of Hebrews 2:9, But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels