March 20th, 2019
We began our Lenten journey a few weeks ago. Our journey focuses in on Christ’s sacrifice for us and our sinfulness that required this sacrifice. For the past two weeks we have highlighted the objective view of the atonement; like who God is and what He did objectively for us. In other words, we have focused in on the theological truth of the atonement.
Today we begin to highlight the subjectiveside of the cross. We look at the impact that Jesus’ death had on and in us. Romans 5:6-8 is a great introduction to this, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Vary rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” As a result of the cross, two things emerge. First, we have insight into our own sinful nature. Second, we see the depth of our own sin and rebellion.
Prayer: “Loving Father, you are not a distant God, but a God who reveals himself to us in many ways. We thank you for sending your Son Jesus Christ to prove your love for us, and for allowing us to witness the love you have for us. Draw us closer to you by holding before our eyes the promise of his cross, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.”
As we did last week, we look to the life of the Israelites as a model for our own journey. The Israelites were, for the most part, in a constant state of rebellion against God. Like Adam and Eve in the garden, the Israelites didn’t want to be dependent on God. They wanted to exercise their own self-direction. Just as God’s wrath came upon Adam and Eve, so it came upon the Israelite people. In Numbers 21:4-9 God sent snakes as a punishment to the Israelites for their complaining and lack of faith. Anyone who was bitten by the snakes would die. This was the punishment for the lack of faith. The Israelites come face to face with their sin and their need for a gracious and forgiving God. They are not blissfully ignorant any more. Therefore, neither are we . . .
In the same way that the snakes made God’s people aware of their sin, the work of Christ holds up a mirror to our own sin. Despite the desire to hide it or ignore it (perhaps as a function of shame), we cannot: Christ is constantly standing in front of us. Christ’s presence also demands that we acknowledge our need salvation, our need for Him.
The second half of the story of the snakes is just as important as the first. God provides a bronze snake. Anyone who had been bitten and looked at the snake would live. God showed His love for His people through providing them salvation from death. Just as God did for them, He does for us in Jesus Christ. Romans 5:8 is true – while we were still sinner, Christ died for us and provided salvation for us. Despite the fact that we are undeserving, God loves us.
To make us right with Himself, God turns us into people who trust Him. He creates the faith that we have given up and restores the relationship we had broken. It is only by His choice and initiative that we are called His friends.