Fourth Sunday in Lent (March 6, 2016)
- First reading
- Second reading
2 Corinthians 5:16-21 | New Living Translation (NLT)
So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
Here we are on the fourth week of our journey to the cross. This week’s scripture reading is the same as the Ash Wednesday New Testament reading. It comes from Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth. What is the work of the cross, especially in light of these verses?
I believe there are two things here: 1) Regeneration and 2.) Reconciliation
The work of the cross regenerates us. The cross of Christ makes us new. It restores the relationship that existed before the fall. The cross of Christ justifies us. That is the cross of Christ makes us just as if we had never sinned. Those who are in Christ live as new creations – we should live differently than those. We have new life through Christ. God has called us to be holy. He said that we should be holy as he is holy. Why would God call us to be holy if it wasn’t possible? We can live a new life. We can be a new creation. This is what regeneration is all about. God takes our old lives and trades them in for new and now we are a new creation.
Related to regeneration there is reconciliation. God restores the relationship that was torn apart in the Garden. Christ was the mediator between us and God to reconcile us back to himself. It is a wonderful gift from God. And what God has done for us through Christ is what Christ calls us to do – we are to reconcile people to Christ – we are Christ’s ambassadors – we are his representatives in this world. How does that make you feel? It should make you feel important, yet humbled. Important in that God has given us a great task – to tell of the great work that Christ has done for us and that he wants to do for others. Humbled because it is a great task – humbled that he would ask us to join us in his work of reconciliation. What is our message? “Come back to God.” How simple is that? That is our job as believers – to compel others to come back to God. A simple task that we sometimes complicate. A simple task that isn’t always easy. Christ wants us to tell others to come back to him – the cross has made a way to be reconciled – a way to be justified. Paul writes, “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. Christ is our righteousness – he who knew no sin became a sin offering for us to regenerate us and to reconcile us.
I think to close out, I’ll include this Chris Tomlin unplugged video “Jesus Messiah.”