MARCH 12 2006†† LENT 2

The Sticker Shock of Lent

Mark 8:31-38

31He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. 32He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

33But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. ďGet behind me, Satan!Ē he said. ďYou do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.Ē

34Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ďIf anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? 37Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 38If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Fatherís glory with the holy angels.Ē

 

 

††††††††††† Two years ago the movie, The Passion of the Christ was a regular part of many conversations.So many were asking, Have you seen it?So what did you think of it?Critics were saying it was too violent, too graphic.The scourging and crucifixion scenes were too long and just too gory.It was seen to be inappropriate for children and even for many adults.To many, it was very offensive.It was just too much!

 

Today the fictional movie The Davinci Code makes Jesus far too human!In it, Jesus takes a wife, and even has children while the miracles He performed are explained away.Iíve not seen the movie or read a review Ö I donít even know how they deal with the suffering and crucifixion of our Lord, but I already think Iím not going to be impressed.It is fiction, after all.

 

Why is it that there is a tendency to make Jesus more human and less Divine?And why is it that there is a tendency to whitewash the awful price He paid for our sins, that seemingly ďover the topĒ performance shown in the Passion of the Christ?I believe the explanation is all too simple.Itís because we feel our sins arenít all that bad.Because we think ourselves better than we truly are, we are shocked to come face to face with what He needed to suffer for us.

 

The Son of Man must suffer many things, He told His disciples.He knew what lay ahead.He spoke plainly about it.He didnít want His disciples to be surprised by all that He would suffer.But even to speak of it was too shocking.

 

Peter was the one Ö it was always Peter who seemed to speak him mind Ö Never, Lord!He seemed to say.As if Peter had the power to stop what God had planned from the foundation of the world.†† It was all culminating at the cross.††

 

Though Peter may object and even try here to dissuade Jesus verbally, and then in the garden of Gethsemane by striking with his sword, he could not stop Jesus from fulfilling Godís plan for the salvation of the world.†† Jesus would fulfill His mission Ö including the awful price paid on the cross.

 

The price was high, too high for any mere mortal to pay.To bear the sins of the world would take a God Ö and that is exactly who came.Jesus Christ, true God, yet true man, carried our sin in His body.He bore the awful, horrible, nasty, ugly, disgusting, hideous, ghastly punishment of Godís anger over our sin.

 

Yes, our sin is that horrible.Itís not just a tiny speck on an otherwise white garment.The blackness cannot be overlooked.The stain will not brush off.Itís embarrassment cannot be hidden no matter how we try to make it look better in our own minds.It doesnít escape Godís notice any more than an ugly dress at the Oscars is missed by Joan and Melissa Rivers.No less of a price than the death of Jesus would have sufficed.

 

Whenever we are tempted to think that our sins are not so bad or that they are little in comparison to others Ö just look to the cross.There we see what was needed to pay for our sins.There we see the shocking price of our sin.

 

When Jesus proclaimed ďIt is finished,Ē He declared to the world the price for sin has been paid, Godís justice satisfied, His love for us so publicly shown.

 

Because we know Him, and love Him and trust Him as our Savior, we have the forgiveness of our sins.God does not hold our sins against us when we confess them and seek His forgiveness.Heís already paid the horrible price for our sinÖ He will forgive.

 

The story is told of two boys who grew up as best friends throughout their lives.After High School, they both went off to college.One of them studied law and became an attorney then eventually a judge.The other boy went off the college and spent most of his time enjoying the college life.He eventually had to drop out of college and went from job to job, always in and out of trouble.

 

The boys lost contact with one another until many years later, when they met in a courtroom.One was the judge, and the other man the one accused on trial.It was a case heard by the judge, held without a jury.If the accused was found to be guilty, the maximum punishment allowed by law would be a fine of $2,000.The judge heard the case and ruled his friend guilty.He pronounced the maximum sentence.Then, he took off his judicial robes, went straight to the clerk of the court, and wrote a personal check for $2,000.

 

God himself is the holy judge who has found all of us guilty and pronounced the maximum verdict of eternal death Ö an eternity separated from His love.He then took the total punishment upon Himself in the crucifixion on Calvary, suffering separation from His Father.Now, we go free at His expense.

 

God is punished.We go free.Thatís the shocking truth about the Passion (the faithful love) of the Christ.††