The Bare Soul - March 28, 2010
The Cross, Part II

The following is the message text and audio recording of a sermon titled "The Cross" delivered to the homeless
at the Kansas City Rescue Mission Chapel on March 25, 2010.

The Cross - March 25, 2010

I Peter 2:24 - and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

Peter's humanity is a gift to the reader of the gospels, and even later in the apostle's letters to the various churches in Asia. Through these pages, we are allowed the opportunity to see a man affected by the extraordinary events that changed the world. We are first introduced to Peter as a rough-cut individual that was undoubtedly a raucous, working man of his day that did not darken the door of the local synagogue except for the occasional wedding, dedication, or other familial-social event. After three years of being Christ's right-hand man, we see a passionate man undone over his denial of Jesus (Matthew 26:75). The gospels don't record that Peter actually witnessed the crucifixion, however, one can conjecture that he was lurking at the back of the crowd and saw with horror the suffering his Lord went through on that Black Friday. Not only did Jesus suffer the physical torments of His scourging and crucifixion, but He also bore the sin of the world in His broken body. (His pain undoubtedly climaxed when His Father withdrew His presence for the first time in eternity.) Peter knew that he loved His Master as he saw Him hanging and dying on that cross. While he may not have understood all that was happening that day, in time the Lord opened his understanding to appreciate all that He had suffered. One can only imagine that tears of love and gratitude flowed from the aged apostle's eyes as he penned the words: He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross. For Peter fully understood the implications of why His Lord suffered more than any man -- that He might rescue us all from the penalty of sin and give us life evermore.

The Greek word hamartia that Peter uses twice in our lead verse literally means "offenses" or "sins". However, it goes much deeper than that. The implication by the apostle is that Jesus not only bore all of our sins in his body on Calvary, but that he destroyed the "factory" which creates the sin in the first place, our sin nature which we all inherited from our father, Adam. Jesus Christ took on Himself not only all the sins ever committed or would be thereafter, but He also took upon Himself the very sin nature of every human in past, present, and future history. For as through one man sin entered into the world, even so through one Man, the Last Adam, sin and the power thereof was forever vanquished (Romans 5:12; I Corinthians 15:45). The translators of the New American Standard Bible got it right when they interpreted the second instance of hamartia as inclusive of both "sins" and "sin". For truly Peter understood that it was not good enough for Jesus Christ to take upon Himself all of our "sins" but that He MUST destroy the source or the "production plant". Only then, could we die to SIN. For now, no longer was the factory operational once we believed Jesus Christ for His salvation. As believers, we were now free from both our "sins" and our "sin".

Many have quoted the last part of I Peter 2:24 as referring to physical healing. While that is certainly true, it is a huge misconception to make the leap from the atonement of Christ in the beginning of this scripture and settle for just physical healing at the end. No, Peter's conclusion was that through Christ's death on the cross we are justified (just-as-if-I-had-never-sinned) before the courtroom of heaven, sanctified (set apart to live holy for the Lord) because the power of sin has been dealt with, and finally glorified (transfigured by His power) in both this life and the life to come. Many teach that glorification is just for the other side of the veil, when we all get to heaven and receive new bodies. Some will argue that justification from our sins and sanctification from our sin is our birthright on this earth as children of God. Beloved, God desires that we live glorified lives even in our present state as He so wills. Romans 3:23 sets the standards for the normal Christian life -- that we would not fall short of the "glory" of God. No matter how God desires to glorify Himself in our mortal bodies, it is His business as we walk this earth. He is the One who said through Paul the Apostle that if the Spirit of God lives in us that he would give LIFE to our mortal bodies (Romans 8:11). In context, Paul is talking about sin and its lack of dominion over a believer that is yielded to the Lord. In the following verses of Romans, he writes that when surrendered to God we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh and allowing God to give life to our mortal bodies. This is the healing that Peter speaks of when stating that we are healed by Christ's wounds. The brutality of Christ's suffering through both His scourging and then through His death on Golgotha allowed the full power of the atonement to make us alive to the uttermost, both in this life and the one to come. Eternal life began when a believer first gave his life to Jesus. Life will continue to grow and to build momentum in the child of God as we surrender daily to His life-giving righteousness (Proverbs 4:18).

Both Peter and Paul would most certainly attest that ALL was accomplished on the cross, and was fully testified by the resurrection. The cross is the very power which made Christ's risen life a reality. Without the cross, there would be no power for any of us to live a resurrected life. Life everlasting for His chosen can only be realized by believing the Son of God died for both our "sins" and our "sin". There is no other way to salvation than by accepting and identifying ourselves with first His broken body and then His life raised in victory. Like Peter, we can then understand that His life spent on Calvary's cross meant total justification, sanctification, and glorification over sin, death, and sickness. We can lift our faces heavenward with tears of gratitude and joyous hearts knowing that His love and desire to redeem us was made possible by that glorious crucifixion. May we all embrace the cross for its true significance, thereby living in the life that the Son of God has given us all!

Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus ... the Perfect Man who became the Perfect Lamb that spared not His life for us all. May as many as who are ordained for eternal life believe in Him, that You would have many sons and daughters in glory. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

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