March 9, 2022
Return to the Cross: Sacrifice
If you want to embrace the empty tomb, (say it with me) you must return to the cross! What a great start we had to our Lenten journey this past Sunday. The theme of the worship was “Confession.” Oh, how we all need to return to the confession that Jesus is Lord and that he rose from the dead. It renews the meaning of salvation for each of us! The correct confession of Jesus is the cross, his resurrection, and nothing more. Why? There’s nothing else needed so that we may be saved! (Romans 10:9). Now it’s time to live as saved people should: boldly, bravely, and sacrificially!
Sacrifice is a word that is steeped in confusion. When we talk about sacrifice, we are not talking about general acts of goodwill. Those are often done from the abundance of our resources whether it be time, talent, or money. Sacrifice, as exemplified by Paul the author of Sunday’s text in Philippians 3:17-4:1, is one that is the persistence of doing what is good and right in the name of Jesus Christ at a great cost to self. What type of cost? In another epistle to the church at Corinth Paul goes into some detail about the sacrifice he made for the furtherance of The Gospel in his ministry as an Apostle of Jesus Christ. Hear what he says in 2 Corinthians 11:24 -28, “Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea, and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have gone without sleep, I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.”
I don’t include this scripture as a means for you to place yourself in the comparison trap with Paul. Few saints could ever measure up to him, and I’m certainly not one of them! Instead, I want you to ask yourself “why?” Why would Paul make this level of sacrifice for God and his kingdom? Why would anyone? The only answer I can reasonably come up with is that Paul personally understood the level of sacrifice that Jesus Christ made on the cross when he laid his life down. It was ultimate! It was everything! From it came hope and life – for Paul as well as all humanity. Paul was so inspired by this example of sacrifice that he had to go and do likewise. As he did, he suffered greatly as the text above can attest, but moreover he lived fully and left a legacy that will forever bless Christianity as over 2/3 of our New Testament can attest! Could we dare hope for something similar?
I believe the answer is “Yes!” Every person who returns to the cross of Jesus Christ has the opportunity to renew their understanding and appreciation of true sacrifice. As we do, our ability to go and do likewise increases dramatically. We will suffer, but we will also live! Isn’t that why we’re here?
As we prepare for Sunday, I want you to do a couple of things. One, read Philippians 3:17-4:1 daily as a part of your 15 minutes in God’s Word. Two, reflect and answer the following questions:
- What does sacrifice mean to you?
- Who are the examples of individuals in your life who exemplified sacrifice for you?
- How did Christ live and die sacrificially for you and me?
- How could living sacrificially like Christ enrich your life here on earth?
Can’t wait for Sunday!