Jesus died on the cross for you, not to just forgive you of your sins, but to empower you to be nice to other people. There's a cross that Jesus bore for us, that we could not bear; and at the same time, there's a cross that He called us to bear, because we can. We look at the case for believing in the resurrection, and then look closely at some of the imagery - the Passover Lamb; and the mixture of blood & water that flowed from Him; the Folded Napkin; and the Dirty Roman Sponge. From Eden, a river called Hope flowed through a land called Suffering. Colloidal Gold gives water a red colour, symbolising that hope.
Genesis, Chapter 2. What I want to talk to you about today is a very important topic. I got enamoured a couple of months ago with the whole cross, and the crucifixion, and the resurrection. I went back and I read it, and I started looking for all kinds of Hebrew pictures and idioms and things like this, and anything I could find in there that made the story come alive.
The Cross and the Resurrection is about forgiveness: Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world; but it doesn't end with forgiveness. The cross and the resurrection is also a story about a public defeat of a way of living. One writer later in the New Testament says that Jesus defeated the ways of this world publically on the cross, so in other words the cross wasn't just about forgiveness. The cross was about me and you living something differently.
There's actually two crosses. There's a cross that Jesus bore for us, that we could not bear; that we owed a debt we could not pay. Jesus paid that debt for us. There is a truth about that. There is a cross that He bore, and the reason He bore it because we could not. At the same time, there's a cross that He called us to bear, because we can. He called us to pick up a cross daily, so here's my question, as we start this out: Is there any place in your life where you've embraced the cross that saves you, but you've neglected the cross you've been commanded to pick up?
Is there any place in your life that you've embraced the cross that forgives you; but you've neglected the cross that says: we need to give mercy and forgiveness to other people? Is there any place in your life where you want mercy for yourself, but justice for everybody else? Is there anywhere you find yourself at the cross going: God, give me mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy - but then you look around and you see other people at the same cross, and you say: God, get them!
So do we want mercy for ourselves and justice for everybody else? This is not what this was about. This was about a lifestyle. This was about a lifestyle of mercy and grace and forgiveness. This was about a lifestyle of generosity. This was about a lifestyle of giving yourself for other people. This wasn't just about going to heaven one day.
Christianity has lost a lot of its credibility because of this. Christianity has taught salvation as: come to an altar, say a prayer, suffer through life, die - it'll all get better then. That's how we do it. Come to an altar, say a prayer, suffer through life, die and you all get to go to heaven then - and so we made salvation all about getting to heaven one day. Is there truth in that? Yes. Is that the whole truth? No, salvation to these people was not just going to heaven one day. Salvation was living slave-driver-free today. It was about being delivered from the things driving your life; not so that you could just be delivered, but so that you could share that life with other people.
Let me summarise it in a nutshell: Jesus died on the cross for you, not to just forgive you of your sins, but to empower you to be nice to other people. Now that's some revelation. You got out of bed this morning for that one! That Jesus died to empower us to be who we really are. See any time you're put in a situation, where something is trying to force you out of what you really are, it's very uncomfortable. Any time you're put in a situation where you're forced to put on an image - you have two choices really. You can live out of who you really are, which Jesus recreated you in righteousness and true holiness, which means the real you is compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiveness - that's the real you. Or you can live out of an image that you've created to impress people you don't like. You can live out of an image, and anything that forces you to live out of an image is uncomfortable.
This is a story about a journey from slavery to freedom, from anguish to relief, from bondage to freedom, from darkness to light. Salvation isn't just one day; it's here, now, today - and when we begin to see it like that, it changes our whole perspective in our life. Now let me start this morning by answering a question. Did the resurrection and the crucifixion, did it actually happen? Did it actually happen? Well of course you say yes, you're in church on Sunday. Listen, somebody challenged me on this, and it really helped my life. This is what they said. They weren't a believer obviously, and they said: Shane, let me get this straight - so you believe that God sent His Son on a suicide mission, but it didn't worry Him, because He knew that He would rise again on the third day? And you believe this, just because the Bible says so? And I thought to myself: this guy doesn't understand; but you know what? I realised that most of us couldn't give an answer to that without looking stupid, so let me see if I could help us with that.