Apr 22, 2019
Join us as we explore God's ancient wisdom and apply it to our modern lives. His word is as current and relevant today as it was when he inspired its authors more than two and a half millennia ago. The websites where you can reach us are alittlewalkwithgod.com, richardagee.com, or saf.church.
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Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
Easter is just behind us. We’ve gone through a season of Lent to ask ourselves the questions early Christians asked: who is Jesus?; what does it really mean to be lost and then to have his forgiveness?; and what is the cost of committing my life to Jesus? This self-examination of our faith is important as we live in a world increasingly hostile to the thought of living a life of faith. A recent Gallop poll shows within the US population, affiliation with any church has dropped 20% in the last decade. Now less than half of us in this country even think of ourselves as belonging to a Christian church, much less faithful in attending one.
Perhaps it’s time to look at why the cross is so important. Why do we need to believe in such a horrendous act as that which hung a man we believe is the son of God, God incarnate, on a cross to die in our place? What is so special about this execution of an innocent man that millions have followed him through the centuries and sometimes willingly sacrificed their own lives rather than deny his deity? Why would God choose such a method to want us to follow him and win our confidence and worship and faith?
The Apostle Paul writes to the early congregation gathering in Corinth with these words: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
It is true. Unbelievers find the message preposterous. Why would we believe the events we just celebrated really happened in the first place? What causes us to think the crucifixion and resurrection story is nothing more than a religious fairy tale? Why would so many people give themselves as martyrs to such a ridiculous tale?
I think the answer is, so many would not give themselves as martyrs to such a ridiculous tale if it were only a tale. Historically, from the writings of some non-Christians we know there was a man named Jesus who lived and died in the manner described in the Gospels. We know from the writings of the early church leaders in the first century the teachings of this man and the impact he had on the entire world.
Every time archeology tries to disprove something in scripture, it seems to only find evidence that it is true. Today, we continue to uncover evidence of the things recorded in scripture just as it was portrayed. Believers’ stand on the authenticity of God’s word finds justification from the scientific world despite efforts to thwart it.
But why would God choose death? Why such a brutal end to his own son? And as we understand the trinity, one Godhead, one God manifested as three, Father, Son and Spirit, physical death to a part of himself. Does it make any sense? Well, we have to go back to Paul’s writing. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
It might not make sense to us, but it is how God chose to reveal his love to us in a profound way. He goes back to the very beginning of his relationship with man. He goes back to those early conversations with Adam and the understanding Adam had of life. The blood that coursed its way through the veins of the animals around him and through his own body held the secret to life. Without that blood providing the necessary nutrients to the cells in the body and carrying away the toxins those cells produced as byproducts of their activities, the body dies. Adam didn’t understand the science behind the biological processes as we do today. But he knew blood was essential to life because God told him so.
When Cain killed his brother Abel, God’s call to Cain included the observation that Abel’s blood spilled into the ground. His life left him because of the spilled blood. God declared life is precious and condemned Cain’s murderous act placing a mark upon Cain that signified his guilt for all to see. We don’t know what that mark was, but we know Cain carried it and all who saw him recognized his guilt and shame because of it.
God required blood sacrifice to cleanse away the guilt of disobedience. Adam and Eve lost their prolonged life in the Garden of Eden and their animal sacrifices from that time on reminded them of the life they lost and sin they brought into the cosmos. Their actions disrupted the harmony of the universe. The symbol of life through the spilling of the blood of a sacrificial animal as a substitute for their own life gave recognition to God that he alone is worthy of worship and praise and glory.
God established rules for sacrifices. He wanted an intimate relationship with his most favored and highest creation. But we, his highest creation, continued to think we were able to live without his rules, without the restrictions he imposed for our good, without him. We wanted our selfish ways to live life however we might choose. We expected God to bend to us instead of bowing to him. We forgot he is God and we are not. And mankind paid the price. God sent a flood to destroy us. Only Noah and his family survived.
But even from this most righteous family, sin, passed through the seed of Adam sprang up as Noah and his son Canaan fell prey to wickedness. We know Noah became drunk on wine and Canaan found him naked in his tent. I have a feeling there is a lot more to the story than those few verses we read in Genesis. I have a feeling both Noah and especially Canaan deserved much more than the punishment we read about in the narrative. God wanted to start over with a new family devoted only to him. And Noah’s family failed the test, too. Just as Adam and Eve and their family did.
What is it about us that we do the things we do even though we know the consequences can be so dramatic? Why do we know what is right but continue to live in ways that push against the will of a loving God? It’s all there in the Book of Genesis for those who believe. Adam sinned. We inherited his nature through his ‘seed.’ Every human offspring born by the joining of a sperm and egg to form an embryo in a mother’s womb carries within that sperm the genetic material that Adam shares with us, the bent toward evil.
But then comes Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah. He was born of a virgin. No earthly father. No inherited genetic material from Adam. No bent toward evil. No inherited self-centeredness. Jesus, the God/Man, perfect in spirit because he did not come from Adam’s ‘seed,’ but from the Father’s. One set of chromosomes, not two. One strand of DNA, not two. How? I don’t understand it. Impossible? Not with God. Isaiah says he was not so handsome. Nothing to look at. In fact, Isaiah infers his looks might even be a little on the grotesque side. Like Quasimodo, the Hunchback of Notre-Dame. Certainly, not the face of the brown haired Roman figure we see in most of the paintings of Jesus adorning the walls of many churches and homes around the country. Yet this gentle, homely, peculiar man attracted thousands because of his words and actions.
This peculiar man. One of a kind. Perfect in spirit. Born of a virgin. Son of God. Allowed himself to be hung on a cross. His life’s blood spilled to the ground as a substitute for my life and yours. The penalty for disrupting the perfect harmony of the universe. My disobedience brings chaos to the cosmos. So does yours. When we create that chaos that ripples through the galaxies, what should the penalty be? When all the stars and planets and galaxies and all things within and around them feel the effects of our disobedience to their creator, how should we make it right? The only way to stop the carnage we create is to snuff us out. Take our life. Stop our further chaos.
But God is full of mercy and grace. He gave himself so we can still live. If we accept his gift of life and follow him we can have life eternally with him. Why the cross? I don’t understand it all. I accept that I will not understand it because I am not God. I am only one of his created beings. But I am loved by him and accept his mercy and grace. The cross was for me, but he took my place. I am forever in his debt.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.