Colonoscopies, Lines from Favorite Movies and The Cross

Posted: January 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

Luke 9:22-27 — Have you ever had something that you had to do that was distasteful, maybe even painful, and there was no way to avoid it? For me, this time last year, it was a colonoscopy. At 51, at the time, it is almost a rite of passage for any man who crosses over the half century mark. It was something that had to be done but it sure wasn’t something that I wanted to do nor would I ever volunteer for it. The colonoscopy itself is not that big of a deal but the preparation for it is not anything that I would wish on my worst enemy. However, the assurance of good health or the early detection of cancer makes the all the discomfort, pain and suffering worth the effort. It was a great comfort afterwards to know that no cancerous polyps were found and that I was in as good of health as one can be at 51.

Another thought comes to mind as well is the scene from my favorite movie ever, The Last Samurai, when Tom Cruise’s character tells Ken Wantanabe’s character, “Necessary? What could be more necessary?”
That particular episode of my life and that critical line from the movie came to mind when I read this passage. There is much here that we will explore for a few days, but let’s consider the concept of necessary today.

Jesus says that the Son of Man, referring to Himself, MUST suffer many terrible things. He must be rejected by the Jewish religious leaders, the leading priests, and the scribes of Jewish religious law. He will be killed bu on the third day, He will be raised from the dead. Notice He says MUST. It was an forever will be necessary. Why MUST He go through these things. He MUST. In line with the illustration I used, it was necessary pain. It was intense in fact in Jesus case. He was to suffer mightily and then die. To use the line from the Last Samurai, it was necessary. There is nothing in the history of man since the Fall that was more necessary. Do we really understand why though?

The Jews were expecting that the Messiah to be one who would come to re-establish the might of Israel that it had not seen since the days of David and Solomon. The Messiah to them was to be a conquering hero. Do we really understand why at Jesus’ first advent that He came to suffer rather than conquer. Do you really understand?

There has never been an act more necessary. The suffering and death of Jesus Christ forms the core of our Christian faith. It was necessary. Without it, there is no solution. The suffering and death of Jesus Christ is the glue that joins the Old Testament and the New. It is the pivotal moment in history that changes everything. Why is that? What is it that Jesus dying on the cross does for me, really? We hear that Jesus died on the cross for us but why? How does his death on the cross save me and why is it necessary?

There are several reasons. Let’s look at them. First and foremost, God’s Word tells us that His death on the cross was necessary because God said so. Scripture tells us that His death on the cross was necessary to save us. God said so. But why does God say so? We have to go back to the Old Testament. In Exodus, God trains his people on the future of the cross through establishing the Old Testament sacrificial system. In order to have sins forgiven, God established various animal sacrifices at the Tabernacle that were to be performed in the presence of and by the priests to restore a right relationship with God when the sacrifices were presented with a penitent heart. The sacrificial system was symbolic of what was to come. However, the sacrificial system was temporary and had to be repeated. It depended on animals that were created and were part of the sin-filled fallen world. It was always to point to the permanent perfect solution. It was practice for us to be able as God’s people so that we would recognize the cross.

Jesus is the permanent solution to the sin/forgiveness/restoration issue. There was no other way to do this. Jesus, God in the flesh, the perfect one, the sinless one HAD to come to earth. He HAD to live the sinless life. There was no imperfection in Him (just as visually there were no imperfections in the animals to be slaughtered as part of the Old Testament sacrificial system). He was perfect inside and out. He was sinless and lived the sinless life. That made Him the most perfect of all the sacrifices ever to be offered at the altar of God. The cross became the altar of sacrifice. Since Jesus was sinless and pure, and the purest EVER, He was the final sacrifice. There is no other sacrifice for sin needed. There was no continuing need for sacrifice needed after the perfect one was sacrificed on the altar of the cross. The temporary sacrifices restored us to a right relationship with God temporarily.

Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, the new altar of God, was complete. It was the penultimate sacrifice of all time. It was the end of the sacrificial system. With this sacrifice, it is as Jesus said on the cross finished. The process is complete. He died on the cross to complete the Old Testament sacrificial system. Through this once and final sacrifice on the cross for sin, as God said that this is what it was for, the process is complete. All that we have to do is to believe with all our heart that this is what the cross is for. It is the sacrifice that reunites us with God. It is through this sacrifice that our sins are taken with Jesus into death. We are made anew permanently through our belief in this sacrifice. We are permanent, not temporarily, made right with God. No continuing sacrifices are necessary. This sacrifice finishes it forever. Once we kneel at the cross and believe that this sacrifice was made to reconcile our sin-filled selves to God, we are made whole, clean, and right with God. This sacrifice is not through our effort but through God’s willingness to reconcile Himself to us. Even with the old system, we did not deserve reconciliation and it was not earned at the Tabernacle. It was God’s gifting way to allow us to have a way to be reconciled with Him not through our efforts but through the avenue He gave us. This is continued on the cross.

Also without the sacrifice and death on the cross, we would not have the resurrection. Without the resurrection, we would have no hope. Jesus’ resurrection gives us hope that our sins lay in the grave with His death. He left it there in the tomb. He died to make it die. He arose to give us new life. Without the death of our sin in the tomb with Jesus, we have no hope, no new life. The resurrection shows us that there is life, new life in Jesus. He conquered sin and death. He laid waste to it and because He was God was able to arise from the battle in new life. He is bigger than sin and death. He left it in the grave to be there permanently. Are you ready for the permanent forgiveness that lies at the foot of the cross, the once and final sacrifice for all sin. And are you ready for the new life, the resurrection, that Jesus brings?

Necessary. What could be more necessary. The cross was necessary. It was the temporary pain and suffering that was absolutely necessary to guarantee the permanent perfect health of our souls. It was that nasty, yucky, ugly, painful, gut wrenching thing that Jesus HAD to go through to secure your and my eternity. Necessary. What could be more necessary?

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