Father Santosh Madanu: Why the Cross?

Sermon delivered on Lent 5B, Sunday, March 21, 2021 at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.

If you prefer to listen to the audio podcast of today’s sermon, click here.

Lectionary texts: Jeremiah 31.31-34; Psalm 51.1-13; Hebrews 5.5-10; St. John 12.20-33.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we adore you because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world. Bless the family of St. Augustine to proclaim along with St. Paul “ For the message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” in Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Girl kid: says to her Mom, I am not going to school anymore?
Mother: Why Not? Asked the mother
Kid: says because my Teacher said on Monday 4+ 4makes 8
Mother: says OK
Kid: continued saying And on Tuesday she said 6+2 makes 8 and on Wednesday she said 5+3 makes 8. So I am not going to school until she makes up her mind.

This is true in our life seriously as a Good Christian, we need to make up our mind clearly about why did Jesus have to suffer and die on the Cross? &
What does it mean to be the disciple of the Lord?
Dear friends Jesus says

“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:13).

A: The first question — why did Jesus have to die on the cross? — is something Christians have?been grappling with since the time of the apostles. St. Paul writes: “We proclaim Christ?crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:23-24) I think this is a good place to start in trying to understand the paradox of the cross: It is beyond human understanding, yet contains a divine purpose and profound supernatural love.

I’ve got a crucifixi in my living room. And I noticed most of Asian churches and families, and Latin American churches and in the people’s homes have crucifixes. They tend to be graphic, with blood and wounds clearly visible. This can be a bit shocking for those of us who are accustomed to more “cleaned-up” crucifixes, but those people it is a deep devotion towards the crucifixions. They understand intuitively what the cross means for them: salvation. Through Jesus’ death on the cross, he has saved us from a similarly horrible death.

It is hard for modern Christians to grasp the full horror of that method of execution. Because “no other mode of execution would have been commensurate with the extremity of humanity’s condition under Sin.”

To understand why Christ’s passion and death on the cross were necessary for our salvation, we have to understand the idea of sacrifice and atonement in the Old Testament. According to the old Mosaic covenant, priests would offer animal sacrifices to God for the sins of the people, substituting the death of the animal for the death punishment deserved by the people for their sins and disobedience. This “substitution” brought an individual or a community back into a right relationship with God (the first 10 chapters of Leviticus give abundant details about this).

The Letter to the Hebrews bridges the Old Testament and the New and shows how Christ took the place of the Mosaic priestly sacrifices once and for all. Just as in the Old Covenant the high priest would offer animal sacrifices on behalf of the people, so Christ became the new high priest who offered himself as the sacrificial offering for the sins of the people for all time. While the Old Covenant required ongoing sacrifices, Jesus’ was once and for all, never to be repeated: “he entered once for all into the sanctuary, not with the blood of goats and calves but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.” (Hebrews 9:12)

How could a loving and merciful God condemn his Son to such a fate?

The only answer is love. God took the initiative to offer his Son on the cross in order to do something we could never do: save ourselves. Jesus took the punishment we deserved and became the instrument of atonement for our guilt to the Father. We are forgiven because of his suffering and death. This is why, for Christians, the crucifix, in all its brutality, is the most powerful image of God’s love and concern for each of us.

That is why Jesus says unless the seed falls to the ground and dies it does not produce any fruits.

  • Christ’s death was the means by which the powers of evil, which held humankind under its dominion, were defeated; our job is to live knowing this is true.
  • Jesus suffered and died in order to secure salvation for all who would believe. The night of His arrest, as Jesus prayed in Gethsemane, He committed His all to the task: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). The cup of suffering was not taken from Christ; He drank it all for us. There was no other way for us to be saved.
  • The price of forgiveness was totally paid. The righteousness of God was completely vindicated.
  • What is the ultimate good in the Good News? God Himself. Salvation is good news. It saves from hell and bestows the relationship with God.
  • Why Jesus suffered and died on the cross?
  • In order to cancel the legal demands of the law against us. To provide the basis for our justification and to complete the obedience that becomes our righteousness.
  • To be justified in a courtroom is not the same as being forgiven. Being forgiven implies that I am guilty and my crime is not counted.
  • The death of Christ is the demonstration of God’s love (John 3:16), it is also the supreme expression of Christ’s own love for all who receive it as their treasure.
  • My sin, your sin, our sin, was the reason Jesus had to suffer and die on the cross. Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The penalty for sin is death.
  • Isaiah 53:3-5 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
  • Jesus came to pay a debt, we could not pay, and that He did not owe. This is LOVE. This is the GOOD NEWS. This is the GOSPEL.
  • How are we redeemed? Is it with Gold, Silver, wealth and money?
  • 1 Peter 1:18-20 For as much as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
  • Jesus sweated drops of blood at the thought of what He was to endure. But He chose to willingly make that ultimate sacrifice, so that we can approach Him and the Father without obstacle, 24/7.

Jesus came as the Passover Lamb to take away the sins of the whole world. He revealed His love for us by His suffering and death on the cross. Forgiveness of sin has always required a blood sacrifice. Jesus gave His own blood for you and me. Praise God!

Revelation 12:11 declares we can overcome (sin, devil) by the blood of the Lamb.
The cross is the cross-section of God’s mercy and justice. When true forgiveness or mercy is bestowed, someone has to pay the price for it. The cross offers true mercy and forgiveness, but not at the expense of justice. God, through Jesus, was perfectly unselfish. He stepped up to pay the exorbitant fine required for our sin.

Jesus’ astonishing sacrifice of himself voluntarily undergone on the cross—all for mercy, all for forgiveness, all for love. It is the gift that exceeds every hope. Praise be to Christ!

What is the Discipleship of the Lord Jesus Christ?

In Christianity, disciple primarily refers to a dedicated follower of Jesus. This term is found in the New Testament only in the Gospels and Acts. In the ancient world, a disciple is a follower

“JESUS THEN SAID TO HIS DISCIPLES: ‘IF A MAN WISHES TO COME AFTER ME, HE MUST DENY HIS VERY SELF, TAKE UP HIS CROSS, AND BEGIN TO FOLLOW IN MY FOOTSTEPS.” MT. 16:24

We all must seek the Lord’s holy and perfect will as a disciple.

Jesus says “I came to earth not to be served, but to serve, and to give my life as the rescue for sinners (Mark 10:45). Disciple is the servant of God and His people.

“As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21; see also John 17:18). This means that Jesus’s disciples are on a mission. They are to witness as true followers of the Lord.

Conditions and requirements to be disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ:

  • Christians must seek to follow in the footsteps of Jesus the Lord through their living life of Holiness, Charity, Mercy, Justice and Peace.
  • Christianity isn’t simply about half-measures on our part, but total sacrifice of every part of our being. It’s “putting our skin in the game,”
  • Let’s remember that total sacrifice is the bottom line of following such a Master Jesus Christ. We can have sustained confidence in Jesus because He never asks anything of us that He has not already done Himself. He emptied Himself of divine glory and might to set an example of letting go of our past.
  • Luke records: “Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, ‘Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.’ And Jesus said to him. ‘Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head'” (Luke 9:57-58).

Story of Discipleship: (There were many missionaries came to India and still come now. You might not heard about their names like William Cary, Graham Staines, Bakht Singh, St. Francis of Assisi, Mother Teresa etc. present missionaries are Hindus and Muslims)

Let’s consider a story told about a missionary of India in the early 20th century, Sadhu Sundar Singh. It’s said that Singh and a companion were traveling through a Himalayan mountain pass when they came across a body lying in the snow. Singh wished to stop and help the man, but his companion refused, saying, “We shall lose our lives if we burden ourselves with him.”

Yet Singh, according to the story, wouldn’t think of leaving the man to die. As his companion bade him farewell, Singh lifted the poor traveler on his back. With great exertion, he bore the man onward, but gradually the heat from Singh’s body began to warm up the poor frozen fellow, and he revived. Soon both were walking together side by side. Later, catching up with Singh’s former companion, they found him—frozen by the cold.

Singh in this story was willing to lose his life on behalf of another and in the process found it, while his callous companion sought to preserve his life but lost it. This story illustrates the words of Christ in Matthew 10:39 “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” Of course, ultimate finding of life comes in the future Kingdom of God.

And the story further tells us that 1) we must readily accept the invitation to think beyond the moment, and that 2) we must put skin in the game with no thought of gaining for ourselves in this life.

Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, it is you that I have been seeking along. Only you can fill the emptiness in my heart. All people and things on earth will fall away. Only in will I find rest, peace and salvation. In Jesus Precious name we pray Amen.