Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Do We Treat Jesus the Way the Pagans Do?

Lent Midweek 3
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
Acts 4:11

What is the message unbelievers need to hear? That Jesus Christ is the only way to be saved. They reject Him. But He is the only one in whom there is hope.

It can seem like a lost cause in making this message known to the non-Christian world. It seems like they don’t listen and don’t care. We continue to do it, though. We entrust the work of converting them to God the Holy Spirit.

But what about us? We know everything Peter is talking about in the New Testament reading we heard this evening. We believe Jesus is Lord. We believe our salvation is in Him and Him alone. This sermon Peter is preaching to the unbelievers is something we say “Amen” to.

So it would be very easy to hear it, praise God, and go on our way.

But Peter (as Luke tells us, by the inspiration of the Holy Sprit) is preaching to us; not just the unbelievers. In fact, we who know who Jesus is and who trust in Him for salvation should not be so quick just to hear the message and go on our way. We should hear it and repent.

Why is that? Because Peter keeps bringing up this notion that you are the ones that crucified Jesus. If we only hear that as, oh yeah, those guys back then are the ones that crucified Jesus then we’re not really going to be listening to the sermon Peter is preaching. We’ll be hearing a sermon that is being preached to someone else.

We need to hear this sermon as the proclamation of God’s Word to us. When Peter says “you” crucified Jesus, hear that as you crucified Him. How is that? The Holy Spirit isn’t inspiring Peter to imply that you and I were there driving the nails into His hands. But He is moving Peter to make known the heart of Jesus’ suffering on the cross. We are every bit as guilty for His being crucified as they were.

The reason Christ was crucified was our sins. That’s why we must never take our sin lightly. They put Jesus up on that cross! Yes, we know who He is and believe in Him, but we sure don’t treat Him that way. Instead, we continue to sin.

As Peter says it, we reject Him. Here he quotes the Psalms. “The stone the builders rejected.” If you’re building a house you’re going to toss out the stones that aren’t up to snuff. Using them would diminish the house. This is what the Bible says we do to Christ—we toss Him on to the unusable pile. We do this by our continual sin against Him. We call Him Lord and defame Him by the way we live. We make sure we’re in church consistently but come up with excuses for not reading and growing in His Word. We’re cordial to others but inside envy them.

We must repent of our sin against Him. Our continual action of crucifying the Lord and Savior. Why do we continue to treat our Lord in the way we do? Because we’re sinners. Because we raise ourselves up and treat our Lord as if He’s an insignificant stone.

But think about what it means that Jesus was rejected as He was. It’s true that we treat Him shamefully, but Jesus wasn’t the victim of circumstances beyond His control. The great fact of the crucifixion of Jesus is not that we brought Him to shame by our sin but that He brought Himself down to suffer in our place. What we have despised has been glorified. The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.

What we thought not valuable is the most glorious thing there is. We are tempted by many things; they are tantalizing to us. But Jesus is more glorious than all of them. They will bring us ultimately to the throw away pile. But Jesus raises us up into His eternal glory that has as its foundation Himself—He is the Cornerstone.

Salvation is found in no one else. Amen.


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