“God’s Missional Community – The Cross and its Consequences” (John MacDiarmid)

Message Preached at Poole Christian Fellowship on Sunday 2nd March 2014

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Reference: 1 Peter 2 v 24-25

On a morning when we are breaking bread together, we go back in 1 Peter to some key verses that we can examine in more detail, which talk about the cross:

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

The Context

Pete has been writing to his readers about the practicalities of living as aliens in a world which is hostile to Christians. He is addressing those who are slaves and telling them that they are to submit to and obey their masters – yes, even the unjust ones, and even when they suffer for doing what is good. To encourage them in this attitude he points to the example of the Lord Jesus the supreme example of one who suffered for doing good and said:

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.

So Jesus is held up as the supreme example of someone who suffers unjustly. Pete is saying to the first century Christians. Look at the example of Jesus and be like Him!  However, as Peter reflects on the cross, he wishes to make clear that the cross is so much more than merely an example of someone suffering unjustly. He goes off on an inspired digression, warming to his theme of the cross, and taking the readers on an exploration of the cross and what it has done for them.

The Cross

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross,

Here we have one of the most sublime sayings about the cross anywhere. To even begin to understand it we have to have an understanding of so much more

  1. An understanding of God’s holiness – god is completely pure  and without any kind of blemish
  2. An understanding of God’s justice – just as we rightly require an evildoer to pay the price proportionate to the crime committed, do God requires that those who do wrong should face the consequences of their wrongs
  3. An understanding of our own sin – we are wholly and totally guilty before a holy God who requires justice – that is why we should be in dread of facing Him as our judge.

When that is understood, we are able to begin to understand what Peter says next; in His own body, Jesus took the punishment for the sins that we were guilty of , taking the full blame and punishment in our place, so that we would not have to. Theologians call this “Penal Substitution”. It is the turning point of history, the point at which it became possible for every human being to be forgiven.

The Consequences

Peter then goes on to point out a number of consequences of the cross:

so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness;

Our slavery to sin is now over. We are not afraid of its consequences, death has no errors for us, and God is starting to work into our lives the righteousness of Christ. We live a life in which we experience more and more victory over sin and experience more and more of the righteousness of Jesus.

“by his wounds you have been healed.”

Complete provision for our physical, emotional mental and spiritual healing was made at Calvary. We came into it the day we experienced salvation for the first time and it will be completed the day we stand before the Lord. This is not saying that everyone who is ill will always be healed in this life, neither is it true to say that this only refers to spiritual healing – the same word is used to speak of every time Jesus carried out a physical healing. But it is saying that there is provision for healing at every level in the cross, and that it will all reach its fulfilment in eternity.

For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Finally… a great return has happened. Because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, God is now our Shepherd and our Father. We can truly say “The Lord is my Shepherd”. He leads us, and guides us.

“Surely goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives, and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever”

Thank you for the Cross.

John MacDiarmid

March 2014