Three Reasons Christ Suffered and Died for Us
Two weeks ago, we were the recipients of fish. Elizabeth asked if we would take over the care of this fish, Shelly said sure, and sis brought it home and Wally became a member of our little troupe. Now Shelly from the get go kind of braced Rebecca for the fact that we weren’t sure how long Wally would be with us. To the point where Rebecca was happy to point out each morning when she got up that Wally was still here.
Well this week Shelly and Rebecca went with me as I had to give some training in another part of the state. They left for home on Tuesday afternoon and I was a couple of hours behind them. I talked to Shelly on the way home and she tells me basically that Wally is belly up. I’m like ugghh, how did Rebecca take it, what did she say? Shelly said, well she just thinks that Wally can’t swim. And I’m like oh no, we need to tell her he’s dead.
She’s like are you sure? I say yeah I think we really need to tell her and Shelly says great then you can do it as soon as you get home. Suddenly it didn’t seem like such a great idea.
So we are setting around at home later that day and Wally is on the table in the bowl, belly up. And I ask Rebecca, “what’s wrong with Wally?” She says, “he can’t swim.” I said, “well I don’t think that’s whats wrong with Wally”, and she stops and looks at me and says “what?”. I said, “well I think maybe Wally is dead.” And that was it. I instantly qualified myself for the sluggo of the year award.
The tears came and she started crying and “saying no, no, he’s not dead”. I tried to hold her, but she wanted nothing to do with me, only mom could take care of her and I felt like I did the wrong thing. It was a sad scene and I was taken back with her ability to understand the finality of this situation. I didn’t expect that, I thought maybe this would be an opportunity to introduce the concept and help her begin to understand it.
But she sat there with Shelly looking at the bowl, crying and poking her finger in it saying, “he’s not real anymore, he’s not real anymore.” What a way to put it, in the eyes of a child to her he wasn’t real anymore.
Well this is more than just a sad little story and it ties in with the message this morning as we continue to look at the resurrection of our Lord from the dead. It just continues to show how death is an inescapable reality of life. Whether it involves bugs, animals or people…..death is a part of this world and like little Wally, someday we are all going to die. Every year in this country 3.3 million people die, which works out to be about 6,400 people a day and if you want to average that out per state it works out to be 128 people dieing in every state die each day.
But it is precisely at this point, this sad fact of death that the resurrection makes such a difference in the lives of believers. And so this morning I want us to look at the hope that we as believers have in the resurrection of our Lord from the dead. In looking at this, I want us to come away with a better understanding and sense of thankfulness for what He did for us.
What hope as Christians that we have been blessed with. And remember what hope means, --- not wishful thinking as we commonly think of it, but a confident expectation of what is to come. Not a hope based on a wish, but a hope based on what Christ has already done.
Never will anyone stand over your casket and have to try to find the living among the dead, for like Jesus you won’t be there. Never will they have to wonder where we are or what has happened to us. It is so sad to attend a funeral void of hope.
Some of you heard Shelly share last weekend about the funeral she went to where hope was missing. I remember going to the funeral of one of my best friends who died when he was 28 years old. It was a sad funeral for many reasons; his life was cut short, he left two kids behind, but it was even sadder because it was void of true hope. The only hope that existed was the hope of wishful thinking, not a confident expectation. Nobody could say for sure where he was, because not many there knew where they would be. So the minister had the task before him of comforting people who had no hope. I am confident that pastor prayed fervently for those who were there and that he kept on praying.
For it was that funeral for my friend that ultimately revealed to me that I was a lost young man trying to lead my family and I had no idea where I was going. I always thought I had the answers, but as hard as I tried I couldn’t find them. And so in a way you can say that the reality of death brought me into life.
God took this young man who at 29 years old had no hope- only wishful thinking at best, and he set my feet on solid ground and gave me hope, true hope. And I have been fascinated with this hope ever since. And so this morning we will share together more about this hope as we talk about three of the reasons why Jesus came to die. Keep in mind that this is not the three reasons Jesus suffered and died, but only three of the reasons centered around our own death and the hope His death gives us.
Father- bless our time together this morning and bless the reading of your word. Help us to put aside our distractions and ask that you speak to us. May we not set here this morning and apply this message to our neighbors or people we know, but apply it to ourselves. Help us to take this precious truth of the death and resurrection of our Lord and to appreciate it even more and apply it to our lives. I pray our minds will be sharp and our hearts open as you reveal you truth to us here this morning.
- First of all, Jesus suffered and died to free us from the bondage of the fear of death. Turn if you would to Hebrews chapter 2 verses 14-15. This has since the time I first read it been a favorite passage of mine. Have you ever come across a passage that just seems to unlock some of the very secrets to who you are? It’s when the truth of God just seems to pierce your heart and truth just comes flooding in and it cleanses you? It may be through conviction, it may through forgiveness, it may be through insight, but that encounter with the word of God happens and you are forever changed. This is one of those passages for me. And the truth is, I think it is for a lot of people, they just haven’t faced it.
a. “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death---that is, the devil--- and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”
The message- a paraphrase of the Bible puts it this way, “Since the children are made of flesh and blood, it’s logical that the Savior took on flesh and blood in order to rescue them by his death. By embracing death, taking it into himself, he destroyed the Devil’s hold on death and freed all who cower through life, scared to death of death.
Since we are human, Jesus took on humanity in order to rescue us from our sin. The fall came through mankind and so the penalty had to be paid by man, but not just a man a perfect man, of which none exist. So Jesus said, “I will take on humanity to rescue them, I will become like one of them.” He came to earth as the God man, the sinless sacrifice and rescued us by His death and through this, we are freed from the bondage of the fear of death.
Shelly and I were talking last Sunday after church about how we as a culture have pushed death about as far away from us as we can. Whereas in previous centuries people were well acquainted with death, because many people died at home and funerals were held in homes, in modern times we are rarely confronted with it. I thought she had a good point that of course those who aren’t saved push it as far away as they possibly can, why wouldn’t they? Certainly the unsaved are in bondage to the fear of death.
But, is it only those who aren’t saved that are held in slavery by their fear of death? I think for the most part yes, but this fear does affect us in the church ,,,,,,,, to the extent that we understand the hope we have as Christians. If we have little understanding, we have little hope. The greater your understanding the greater your hope. But this verse tells us that for the believer, just like the bondage of sin, bondage to the fear of death has been broken for us.
It is critical to understand what is being said here. It does not say “to free them from the fear of death.” It says, “and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” Death was never part of the original plan of God. Death is an unwelcome visitor; 1 Cor. 15:26 tells us that the last enemy to be destroyed is death. Death is part of the curse upon mankind; a result of the fall. So what does slavery to the fear of death look like? I think we can understand this better if we look at childbirth as an example.
Just like pain in childbirth is a result of the fall and an unwelcome visitor in this world, so is death. If a woman was to live in slavery to the fear of pain in childbirth, her fear would drive her to have no children. But instead, women look past the pain to the confident expectation of what comes afterward and goes forward in spite of the part she does not look forward to. One is in bondage to the fear the other is not, and it makes a huge difference in the outcome of their lives, and so it is with us.
This passage tells us that for the believer, just like the bondage of sin, bondage to the fear of death has been broken for us. Satan uses this fear of death to enslave people to his will;;;;;;he uses this fear of death as a weapon to gain control over the lives of people. We must understand that living in slavery to the fear of death stands opposed to living with an eternal perspective, we can’t do both.
It was C.S Lewis who said, “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.” When we live in bondage to the fear of death, we are aiming at earth. It is impossible to live your current life in view of the next and live in slavery to the fear of death.
- Second, Jesus died for us so That we Would be with Him Immediately After Death. 1 Thessalonians 5:10-11 reads, “He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.” Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
The Thessalonians were a body of believers that were eagerly awaiting the Lord’s return. As they continued to wait and He didn’t come, they had questions for Paul. One of which was “what has happened to our loved ones who have died already.?” They thought maybe since they died already, they might miss out on what Christ had in store for us. And they wondered the same thing about themselves. And Paul takes this opportunity to encourage them and tell them you know what, “whether we are awake or asleep, we will be with Him.”
This is a tremendous encouragement and a huge comfort for life and death. Christ died for us so that we could take hold of this hope. For those who die before the Lord’s return we will have a time of separation from our body. We will go immediately, to be with Jesus after our death and will be reunited with our bodies at a later point and time.
Many cannot imagine going on living without our bodies, I can understand that. In fact because we can’t imagine that I am not sure many look forward to that time. Maybe it’s because of what we know about the grave and what happens to our body. And since we we are in our bodies we really relate to that. I just bet that if most of us had to choose we would probably elect to go straight from here to our resurrection body and be with Christ. Most would be more comfortable with that.
When we talk about the body and our attachment to it, understand that is only natural. The body was part of God’s original plan. Back in the beginning in Genesis 2:7, it says that “the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being,” The body was part of the original plan. We are not a soul in possession of a body, kind of trapped within and we are not a body in possession of a soul. We are a soul- body unity. So it is okay to long for the body. In fact in 2 Corinthians 5 Paul talks about the time when we believers are without the body as a time where we are “unclothed”, and longing to be clothed.
Understand though that while Paul talks about being unclothed, he makes it very clear that this time is a time to be celebrated and looked forward to. He says in Philippians 1:21, “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Paul was a man who by God’s choosing was taken up to heaven (2 Cor 12) and given a look and knew what it was going to be like. And he tells us here in Philippians, to die is gain. And he goes on to tell us in verse 23, not only is it gain, but I want to go, I want to leave here and be with Christ, it is far better than what is here.
We have this great hope, when we die we don’t go out of existence, we go immediately to be with our Lord. We don’t stay in the grave with our body, our soul doesn’t go to sleep, we go immediately to be with Christ. This is one of the reasons that Christ suffered and died for us, that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.
- Third, Jesus died for us to Secure our Resurrection from the Dead.
As great as it is that we go to be with Christ immediately after our death, it isn’t the last thing we have to look forward to. Throughout the scriptures you see the reference to our dead bodies as “sleeping.” That is an accurate description of our bodies as we await the consummation of the victory. Our body in many ways mimics a body that is sleeping. We lay in the same position, we are still alive although the body and soul are not together, and this body will rise again just like it does when we wake up from a sleep. To say that it sleeps speaks to us in a way that we can understand that this is not final.
Romans 6:5 speaks so clearly to this hope of the resurrection, it says, “If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection” And Romans 8:11 says, “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
As it was in the beginning,,,, a creation that was very good, so it will be in the end. Paradise lost will be paradise restored. As God originally intended things to be in the Garden of Eden with God among His people it will be in the end. We will after we die be without our bodies. But when Christ suffered and died for us and rose again, He secured our resurrection from the dead.
John Piper comments on this, he says “Here’s the connection between Christ’s death and our resurrection: “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.” Which means, we have all sinned, and the law sentences sinners to everlasting death. But the text continues, “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” In other words, the demand of the law is met by Jesus’ life and death. Therefore, sins are forgiven. Therefore, the sting of sin is removed. Therefore, those who believe in Christ will not be sentenced to everlasting death, but will be raised imperishable. . . then shall come to pass the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory.” Where oh death is your victory? Where o death is your sting? Be astonished, and come to Christ. He invites you: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live. (Jn. 11:25).
Through His death and resurrection, Christ secures for us our own resurrection from the dead. No other religious leader in the history of the world has accomplished what Jesus did for us and no followers of any other religion in this world has the promises that Christians do.
This morning we have three of the reasons Christ suffered and died for us and what His resurrection has done for us. 1) We have been released as slaves to the fear of death, 2) we can be with Him immediately after death, and 3) He has secured our resurrection from the dead.
As I said in the beginning, I just continue to be fascinated with the resurrection. It is a fascinating and beautiful event. At the resurrection the supernatural world touches and impacts the natural world in a way for all to see. Magic is fascinating because of what it appears to be. It appears to be supernatural but is only tricks. The resurrection is flat out supernatural in our midst. No magic, no tricks, all God. But it does not happen without the suffering and death of Jesus.
The introduction of the book you were given last week, A Violent Grace has a great illustration of what Christ has done for us. Talking about the cross of Christ, Michael Card says,
From this greatest of negatives flow all the positives of our new life in Christ: From conflict, peace; from pain, healing; from death, life. A friend of mine and his buddy were sitting together in a foxhole during the Korean War. Their patrol had been assigned to sweep for concealed mines. As they sat together, sharing a candy bar, an enemy grenade flew through the air and landed between them. Without hesitation, my friend’s partner threw aside the last piece of candy bar and flung himself on the grenade. His courage saved my friend’s life.
When I first heard that story, I thought, I know someone who was died for. Then the truth hit me: I was “died for”, too. Jesus fell on the grenade, as it were, for me. He placed himself in harm’s way so I could be saved. The cross proves that you and I are valued and loved beyond our wildest imaginings---so much in fact, that we were died for.”
Do we really comprehend that someone died for us? Let us take that to heart and may we live a life that reflects our thankfulness to Christ and may we never lack the appreciation of what Christ has done for us when He died for us.
Prayer----Lord Jesus, thank you so much for your love for us, for all you have done for us. Help us to be the people you have called us to be. Help us to escape the slavery of the fear of death and to live as free people; free to love and free to live. May our hearts sing of the joy of what you have done for us and may people know us as your disciples by the love we show for one another and the joy in our lives.
. It is essential that we live our lives in light of this understanding. C.S Lewis says, “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.”