The Violent Cost of Sin (with Communion)
The Christian world has gotten so tidy; wouldn’t you say? It’s so clean. It’s so refined. No harsh words. Not in the least bit upsetting. “All are welcome.” “Join us for a joyful experience.” “Come be comforted.” Those are just some of the more typical messages we see on the signs outside of our churches nowadays; right? We want people to get the impression that they can come in and get something that will make them feel good. We don’t want to offend. We don’t want to “ruffle any feathers”. You know what you won’t see on the church billboard? “Come get washed in blood.” “Enter here and leave your dead body at the door.” “Join us for today’s sermon: ‘You’re a Lowdown, Hell-bound Sinner'”. Guaranteed you won’t see THAT ONE. In fact, sin is hardly mentioned in most church services except perhaps in some mindless prayer chant written hundreds of years ago…LONG before we got so sophisticated. Fact is, we don’t talk about sin in church, anymore. Sin is not on the agenda. It’s too depressing and, well, no one wants to go to church to feel bad about themselves. Instead we talk about love and fellowship and glory (ours not His). Most church websites are overflowing with images of happy, smiley people hugging, high-fiving and pleasantly sharing a cup of coffee. Most of the “About Us” sections excitedly tell you about their “contemporary” music service, wide-open arms and modern, comfortable atmosphere. There are lots of screen filling photos of what look like rock concerts with the lights and the fog machines and the mood setting backdrops but are, instead, captioned, “Scenes from last Sunday’s Worship Service”. In all of the published literature you’ll struggle to find any mention of Jesus, hardly a picture of any sort of pulpit and nowhere will the word “sin” be found.
Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:Revelation 3:17
“John, what’s wrong with love and fellowship and smiling, hugging and high-fivingly sharing coffee?” Nothing, but if you’re gonna invite people to your church, if you’re gonna invite people to Christ the honest invitation will say they must come broken. Jesus said He came to seek and save the LOST! I never met a smiling lost person. Jesus said the poor in spirit are blessed. They that mourn will be comforted. Most modern congregations would probably walk out on Jesus if He dared preach the Sermon on the Mount in their church. Too depressing. Too demanding. Too much sacrifice. Yes, Jesus jumped for joy (Luke 10:21) but He also wept. (John 11:35), He groaned. (John 11:33). He experienced agony (Luke 22:44) and hunger (Matthew 21:18) and thirst (John 19:28).
No, I don’t think we need to focus on the negative all the time. I don’t believe in staying in the shadow of the crucifixion. Joy DID come in the morning, the morning of the Resurrection. It is there that we should live BUT Jesus did purposely ask us to remember His Sacrifice. In that Upper Room, in one of the most touching moments in all the Bible, Jesus looked into the eyes of His friends with the symbols of His Body and Blood in view as tokens of the brutal price He would shortly thereafter pay and simply said, “Do this in remembrance of Me.” He didn’t say slap each other on the back and split a doughnut with your neighbor or tell amusing golf-related anecdotes or jump up and down to earsplitting guitar riffs at praise and worship. Some of those things have their place but that place is NOT up front. His life and violent death should be honored as the most important event that has ever happened TO YOU.
I know this is not a popular view. That’s actually the entire point I’m trying to make, not only here in this intro but throughout the lesson to which it is appended. This is not a message people want to hear and, yet, it must be heard. Jesus was brutally murdered because of you…and me. There is no way around it. You may not want to hear it but you MUST hear it if you are going to properly remember Him. The cost of your sin is violence. The only way you can be liberated from your condition of inborn sin is death and it will either be yours or His. That’s what the Bible says. The wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23)
This is a powerful theme. I recognize it won’t be new to most of you but it is necessary for us to remind ourselves of the depth and importance of the sacrifice of Our Lord. Not only do we need it for our own spiritual well-being but if we are to fulfill our calling to spread the Gospel we must keep what He did for mankind in the very forefront of our thinking. In today’s episode we go into some detail on the lengths God has gone to in order to make sure we never forget the high cost of redemption.
Two more important points about this lesson. First of all, this lesson contains a communion. If you don’t know what that means I suggest paying very close attention to the first section of the lesson. It is designed to prepare you properly to share communion with us. (If you have heard it before and know what to do then you can skip ahead to 22:26 where the lesson begins.) The second important point is the same for all of our lessons. Before you begin this or any other lesson on Scripture take a moment or two to go to the Lord in prayer and ask for His Spirit to help you properly discern His Word so that you may apply it to your life in order that you will fully realize your purpose in His Plan.