We live in a time of severe trials. The entire nation has been in lockdown over the past one week and we have another two weeks to go at least for the present. The Corona virus is unleashing its deadly sting on all of humanity. Thousands have died in Italy, China, Spain, USA. Many other countries are reeling under this attack as the enormity of the infection has put the medical services under severe stress.
We in India are just now in stage 3 and the infection is slowly but surely spreading. The Government is making every effort to slow down its spread if not to contain it. There is a deep sense of fear and insecurity about what the future holds. This virus brings home the truth about the mortality of human beings. We flourish like the flowers of the field and then we are no more. It is in this context that we are called to make sense of the death of Christ and what it means for us. The death of Christ actually gives meaning to our lives.
Our theme for this morning is the Meaning of the Death of Christ.’ What does the death of Christ mean to us? What does it indicate? What sense can we make out of a man who was crucified two thousand years ago? Does his death alter our lives in any way? – are all questions that run through our mind when we think about the death of Christ. What does the bible have to tell us about the death of Christ?
In the letter to the Romans, Paul shows that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. But he goes on to say, ‘they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith’ (Rom 3:23-24).Paul shows that through the death of Christ there is redemption available to all who believe in this provision. God put forward Jesus to die for our sins so that we can make peace with God. We will be looking at the second epistle of Paul to the Corinthians chapter 5:11-21.
The death of Christ makes Paul persuade others to believe in the good news. Paul is not worried about what others think of him. He has experienced the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life in Christ. His life has been turned inside out from being persecutor to being one who proclaims the faith. Therefore, now he out to persuade others to believe in Christ. He is not concerned about what others think of him. They may consider him to be a madman but he says that will not alter his way of life because his conscience was clear and was doing out of love for God and for his people. Similarly, the challenge for us is also to persuade others to understand the meaning of the death of Christ. How there is the forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life through him.
Secondly, the compelling love of Christ shown to us through his death on the cross makes us live our lives for him. Paul is now telling the Corinthians that Jesus died in their place taking the penalty of their sins. Paul reminds us that the wages of sin is death and that we all had to die because of our sins. But instead Christ took our place on the cross so that we might live. Therefore, when we live our lives we are to live it for Jesus.
Finally, the death of Christ reminds us that the new creation has come. We are all made new through the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. The new creation itself is not something of our own doing but it is a gift from God. If we are a new creation in Christ then we will be different. We will not be like the world. We will walk in the paths of truth. Truth and integrity will be part of our lives. Lies and deceit will have to go. The old habits have to go. The self has to die. Power and Pride, Popularity and success, wealth and greed all have to go.
Instead we are called to lead lives of humility, integrity and simplicity because we cannot serve God and mammon. May God help us to understand the meaning of the death of Jesus and pass on this good news to others while we ourselves are being transformed by it.
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