ON THE CROSS AND UNDER THE CURSE – LOVE DIES. LOVE WINS. – SERMON RESOURCES
ENGAGING THE PRACTICAL TIP
On the cross and under the curse the hopes of people of God seemed to die along with Jesus. On the cross and under the curse the hope for the restoration of all things, now seemed completely out of reach. On the cross and under the curse, the hope for liberation seemed to be crushed.
Israel was yearning for their long exile to come to an end, and many had cast their hopes and dreams of liberation onto Jesus, but they, like many of us, wanted to take God’s mission to rescue the whole world and turn it into just a story of personal rescue. They called him Messiah because they longed for a king. A king who would come and throw off their evil oppressors and restore them to their place of glory again, but Jesus had something much larger in mind.
It is on the cross and under the curse that Jesus wages battle with the powers: sin, death, and evil. While many in Israel were hoping for a battle, they expected a very different set of actors. They had visions of pious, righteous, faithful Jews taking up arms against the godless Gentiles. This is often a repeated battle cry, God defeat our enemies! We cry out because we misunderstand what God is trying to accomplish in us. Any military or political victory would have validated the way of the Empire–using force, power, status, might. But Jesus doesn’t join the Empire to defeat evil. Instead, on the cross and under the curse, Jesus takes the full force of cosmic evil upon himself, and in so doing exhausts its power. For Jesus, the battle would not be won by killing the enemy, but in allowing himself to be killed, to give up his life on the cross.
His act of surrender forever enthroned the rule of love. Love dies and love wins. Here Jesus takes the sin and brokenness of the world on himself so that the world might be healed. He dies, nailed to a Roman cross, taking on our shame and punishment, creating a way for us to have right standing with God. In his act of self-less love, he changed the world forever. Never again would humanity be ruled by the powers: sin, death and evil. No longer would humanity have to fear death. That’s over. Jesus declared it so, “It is finished” (John 19:30). And with his death, Jesus opened a new way for us to enter the very presence of God.
In “the present age,” which started with Adam’s rebellion against God’s rule, the whole creation was stained by sin. As a result of that sin, death entered the world. But in the age to come, God would intervene to restore and renew the whole creation. God himself would set things right.
So, the idea of a single person being resurrected in the middle of the space-time continuum was inconceivable. But that’s exactly what happens to Jesus. He entered the world through this present age, dies, and comes back to life bringing with him the promise of the age to come. What Jesus does when he is raised from the dead is to usher into this present age, the reality of the age to come. He brings into our reality, the reign of God. He brings into our reality, the rule of God. He brings new life, new hope, new joy, new peace, and justice.
The life of a follower of Jesus is a life of ongoing transformation. Setting aside the old life and the patterns of this present age, living instead with the promise of the age to come. We entrust ourselves to the ongoing work of the Spirit who is transforming us into new creations in Christ. And we participate in the restoration of God’s peace in the world.
We are called to be a witnessing community, wrestling daily with how to follow a resurrected Jesus bringing the life that he ushered into the world into the lives of those around us. We do this by being an active, serving, contemplative community. We do this by understanding that we are enacting the reality of the story of the resurrected Jesus in every act of welcome, every act of love, every act of service we offer to each other. Jesus is calling his followers to live in a way that affirms the reality of the kingdom of God in our midst.
THE RESURRECTION TODAY
Take a few minutes and ponder what it means that Jesus rose from the dead and actually began a new creation which will eventually renew the whole earth. How does this make you feel? Does this bring you joy and hope, or do your problems and those of people close to you weigh you down? Share these feelings with Jesus.
Try to imagine what it would have been like to be one of the disciples (men and women) who saw the risen Jesus. How would you feel? Do you think that you would have more hope, more joy? If so, you might ask Jesus for these things.
If pondering the resurrection brought you hope and joy, you might share your gratitude with Jesus. You could also keep an eye open for someone today who seems to need some hope or joy. Come alongside them and ask them how they are doing. Be willing to share your story.
If pondering the resurrection weighed you down, you might ask Jesus to share your burdens and to also send someone to help carry your burdens. Be on the lookout for that person today.
Feel free to share your experience with others who have also tried this prayer exercise by commenting below or emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.