Sermon preached in Inniscarra Church on Sunday 22nd March 2015
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be now and always acceptable in thy sight, O Lord our strength and our redeemer. Amen
On this sunday in years gone by … the 5th Sunday of Lent was known as Passion Sunday … a day when we were able to focus our attention on Christ’s Death … The why of it, the what did it achieve.
As the years went on … these 2 weeks are known as Passiontide
What I’d love to do this morning is look at the wider context of our readings and see the vision of the new covenant which was inaugurated that day … How everything changed and how we understand it today. But we are preparing for Holy week … It’s a good time to pause and to think about the symbol of our faith … the Cross.
The Big vision as traced through our readings today … is nothing less than the transformation of everything for ever! … thats a big bold claim but lets look at it.
Its the opening up of the covenant, the agreement between God and People
Its the relationship being sorted out
Its the fulfilment of the Law … Punishment being satisfied and the Debt paid
We see in the passage from Jeremiah who was looking forward to the new covenant … the declaration of the Lord to the people of Israel … a time in the future when things will change .. which will be different from the past - The law wont be written on stone but in their hearts, all will know him and there will be forgiveness and relationship will be restored.
We see the writer to the Hebrews written after the events of easter looking back to Christ… and seeing Jesus appointed by His father as the priest who was able to be the sacrifice, to be the one who was able to inaugurate the new covenant, he became to source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.
And then we get to Jesus himself understanding who he was, why he had come and what had changed. We see in this passage in Johns Gospel lots of things …
If you are looking for a summary of the Christian message … John 3:16 probably would be it … but as we look at the context around it … we have huge themes of light & darkness, good and evil - trial and condemnation.
In this passage we see God’s heart for his creation … to save, not to condemn, to provide light, to reward truth, to see plainly
So many in our world today … well actually everyone needs to hear this message of hope, good, brightness and no condemnation.
This all sounds great but … What does this mean for us?
Singer Lionel Ritchie was once interviewed on television by Jeremy Vine, and he was saying that he came from a very poor background but he started to make money out of his singing. And one time it was his father’s birthday, and he gave his father this huge present, and his father was really excited about it. But as he took off the wrapping paper, he found there was more wrapping paper inside. And then he took off another layer; there was more wrapping paper, and more wrapping paper. And this present just got smaller and smaller and smaller and smaller, and he could see his father’s face falling.
And eventually he got to the heart of it, which was just a little tiny piece of paper. And on the piece of paper it just said this: `All debts paid.’ And his father said, `Well, you’ve paid my credit card debt?’ He said, `Yeah, I’ve paid off all your credit cards.’ He said, `Well, what about the car?’ He said, `Yeah, I’ve paid off the car.’ His father said, `Well, what about the mortgage?’ He said, `Yeah, I’ve paid off your mortgage.’
As we journey towards Easter this year I want to share with you some question our young people have been asking at Lighthouse Messy Church just last month … questions which I’m sure many of us have
Why did God send his son to earth?
Why did Jesus die?
These are questions which I’m sure we’ve wrestled with at one time or another … if we havent perhaps they are questions to take home and meditate on…
No matter what age we are, as our focus at this time of year begins to turn to the events in Jerusalem all those years ago … events that have eternal significance for us … as we say /sing in our creed … I believe in Jesus crucified under Pontus Pilate died and rose again.
What does that mean?
It is nothing less than the transformation of everything for ever!
All debt has been paid, all consequences of sin settled … and new life is possible. Through the relationship with God … Christ is the mediator … the great high priest and we are called to point others to Him.
The Cross - a place of tremendous pain and suffering became a place love and mercy - despair became hope where the great exchange took place
sin is replaced by forgiveness
hatred is replaced by love
death is replaced by life
pain is replaced by healing
darkness is replaced by light
condemnation is replaced by righteousness
Defeat is replaced by Triumph
and the great thing is that this not simply theory but it is seen in practice … After Friday … Sunday Came!
Let's Pray ...
Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for dying for me on the cross. I’m sorry for the things in my life that have been wrong. I now turn away from everything that I know is wrong. And I now receive your gift of forgiveness.
I put my trust in what you did on the cross for me. And I ask you, please, to come and fill me with your Holy Spirit, to give me the strength to lead the kind of life that deep down I’m longing to lead. Thank you, Lord Jesus. Amen.