Jesus died for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.
Today we celebrate resurrection. And resurrection is a very very big deal. I want to look at a short little powerful verse in Romans 4:25.
Jesus died for our trespasses and was raised for our justification. (Romans 4:25)
Clearly this verse breaks into 2 nice and even points. Jesus died for sins & Jesus rose for justification. I want to touch briefly on each of those and then we will illustrate this truth through the ceremony of baptism.
Died for sins
Jesus died for sins… The first sentence tells us that Jesus died for our sins. So what is sin? That may sound like a silly question to you but I think it is a valid question because I believe we live in a time and place that has made that word irrelevant. I’ll explain. MISSIODEI is passionate about being in and reaching into our culture. And as I think about ways to communicate the Gospel – especially to people outside of the church – I often struggle to find a different word for sin than ‘sin’. You see, I don’t want to use a bunch of churchy christianeese words, so I wrestle with how to communicate the very idea of sin. Because – in the church we throw that word around like it’s popcorn or candy – but in the real world that word is not something you throw out there very often. Here’s a little illustration. I use a Mac computer, and on the Mac there’s a button you can push that will allow you to dictate as the computer writes what you say. I use that button a lot. It helps with my terrible spelling. I promise you, my computer doesn’t know what sin is. (That might have been a really profound statement…) I have said the word ‘sin’ with at least a dozen different accents, different dictions, but it always types in something like ‘sent’ or ‘son’ or instead of ‘sinners’ it types ‘centers’. And that got me thinking. I wonder… if our software doesn’t know what’s sin is, is it possible that our culture doesn’t recognize ‘Watson is’. Just now as I dictated ‘what sin is’ the computer typed ‘Watson is’.
So I thought I would look it up in a postmodern, relevant kind of dictionary to see how the word sin is defined. What’s more postmodern and relevant than Wikipedia. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the word ‘sin’.
Humans are considered naturally good (perfect), the human heart is a mirror, which, if turned away from the light of the sun (God), is incapable of receiving God’s love.
Buddhism does not recognize the idea behind sin, but believes in the principle of karma, whereby suffering is the inevitable consequence of greed, anger, and delusion (known as the Three poisons).
In Hinduism, the term sin (pāpa in Sanskrit) is often used to describe actions that create negative karma by violating moral and ethical codes (Dharma), which automatically brings negative consequences.
Muslims see sin as anything that goes against the commands of Allah. Islam teaches that sin is an act and not a state of being. The Qur’an teaches that “the soul is certainly prone to evil, unless the Lord does bestow His Mercy”.
The violation of any of the 613 commandments is sin. Judaism teaches that sin is an act, but one has an inclination to do evil “from his youth”.
Sin has damaged, and completely severed, the relationship of humanity to God. That relationship can only be restored through acceptance of Jesus Christ and his death on the cross as a substitutionary sacrifice for humanity’s sin.
Did you notice that all of them, even the ones that you might think do not believe in a concept of sin, believe in something that looks like sin. Something that violates morality, purity, or holiness. And, did you notice that every single world religion has at its core a directive in which you need to try harder and do better to not sin or else you’ll receive bad karma or negative consequences. Only Christianity, and please hear this, only Christians believe that our sin is paid for by a substitute. Wikipedia lays it out perfectly. Our relationship with God can only be restored through the acceptance of Jesus as our substitute for and payment for sin.
This is what we call good-news. The Gospel literally means good-news. And good-news is news – it’s not what you need to do (ie.. try harder and be gooder), it is news. And news is about something that has already happened. News is news. It is a retelling of historical events. And the Gospel is news. The Good-news is not about what you need to do but about what he has already done. And this passage tells us what he’s done. Jesus died for sin.
rose for justification (ours)
Jesus rose… It is clear that Jesus died for sin. Now I’m not sure of this, but I think most people in this country has at least heard that Jesus died for our sins. But this verse goes further. It doesn’t stop at dead for sins. It goes on. Jesus rose for our justification. If I may, I’d like to – on this Easter Sunday – tell you why that is actually better news than simply Jesus dying for sin.
If I could go back to that list of major world religions and I’ll tell you why Christians get all giddy on Easter. You see, every other religion on this planet has a memorial. You know what a memorial is. You’ve driven down the highway and seen a cross and flowers and photos. That is a memorial. It means that someone died there. Now… when a religious leader dies they get more than a cross and flowers. They get a whole shrine.
Abraham – is buried in Hebron. His body lies in the grave, and he is memorialized and people still make pilgrimages to his memorial site.
Buddha’s body is in India and there’s an enormous shrine built over his burial place. And people still visit and light candles at his memorial site.
There is a monument built at Muhammad’s burial site in Medina. And, again, the followers go to that place, and remember their founder and mourn his death.
But then you get to Christianity and well.. we… huh… we don’t know where Jesus is buried. That’s because Jesus isn’t buried! Well.. “They knew where Jesus was buried. Joseph of Arimathea who gifted the tomb—he knew where it was. The soldiers knew where it was. The Roman government knew where it was. The women who were the first to find the empty tomb—they knew where it was.” (Mark Driscoll)
But when they all went there it was empty! And why should we get so excited about that?
Jesus rose for justification… that word justification is a very powerful word – but it will get lost if we leave it like that. So let me offer a few different words. I like the way the Amplified bible says its:
He was raised to secure our acquittal… (Amplified Bible)
So when we think of justification we might think of an acquittal. Webster’s dictionary defines acquittal as:
the act of deciding that a person is not guilty of a crime.
Now, we might not understand justification, but we surely should understand what an acquittal is – because – in America court trials are entertainment. The world has been shocked over and over again by famous acquittals. Perhaps the most famous was O.J. Simpson, acquitted for killing his ex-wife. Or maybe you remember Lorena Bobbitt. She was tried for doing something horrific to her husband, John Wayne Bobbitt, in 1993. She was acquitted on the basis of insanity. Then there was rapper R. Kelly, acquitted for statutory rape. And, perhaps the most recent media trail, George Zimmerman, acquitted for the murder of Trayvon Martin, 2012.
In each and every one of these cases, OJ, Lorena, R. (I don’t know his first name), and George, they were acquitted. Now that doesn’t mean they are not guilty. In fact, I think most American think all of those defendants were guilty, that is why they were so shocking and famous. An acquittal doesn’t mean innocent, it just means not guilty as far as the criminal law is concerned.
So… lets turn our attention back to this word justification. That is exactly what justification means. It doesn’t mean that you are innocent. You know that can’t be true. Surely you know that you are not innocent. In fact, I’m sure there is substantial evidence proving that you are guilty. However, since Jesus rose from the dead – you have been justified. You have been acquitted for your sins. You are pronounced ‘not guilty’ even though you are guilty. And for many of us, that would be a shocking scandal worthy of television. What I’m gonna get away with that? Christians hang on the fact that because Jesus died for sin:
Now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)
And that means no judgment. No punishment. No accusation. Once you become a follower of Jesus there is nothing that can condemn you. You become an innocent, not guilty, sin free child of God.
conclusion: I will rise
I want to conclude by pointing our attention to one tiny tiny little word. It may be small but it appears twice in this short verse. It is the word ‘our’. I want us to see that Jesus died for our sins and Jesus rose for our justification. That means that the resurrection and Easter, is for you. It is so much more than some event that happened a very long time ago. We are not simply celebrating the event of Jesus’ resurrection – we are also celebrating our resurrection. You have been acquitted. You are not enslaved to prison. You have been set free. What will you do with you freedom?
Today we celebrate resurrection. And resurrection is a very very big deal. You might not think so. But its true. French philosopher Voltaire said:
“Everything in nature is resurrection.” Voltaire
Don’t you see that? We are literally experiencing this amazing truth right now. This place has been cold and dead for too long. Our yards have been buried under a blanket of death – called snow… and salt. And now I’m so thrilled that life is bursting forth again. I am so excited about life and grass and spring and the sun! Martin Luther said:
Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone but in every leaf of springtime. Martin Luther
Resurrection is powerful. It touches everything. It is a universal truth that new life springs out of death. Death is inevitable. But with it comes new life. As that wonderful piece of literature – Fight Club explains:
“It is only after disaster can we be resurrected.” Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
You see its not about what you need to do, its about what he done did. It not about how you need to make it right, it’s about how he is making it new. It’s not about setting resolutions and cleaning up your life, its about death and resurrection into a completely new life. The Bible teaches us that christianity is about death and resurrection.
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4)
“We are raised, reconciled, and restored not because we are thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent but because we are dead and our life is hid with Christ in God. Because Jesus has this absolute thing about raising the dead. In the Gospels he never meets a corpse that doesn’t sit right up. You can fold up spiritually, morally, or intellectually and still be safe. Because at the very worst, all you can be is dead – and for Him who is the Resurrection and the Life, that just makes you His cup of tea.” Capon
Discussion: How are you still living in a away that’s dead, not resurrected to new life? (sin, holding on the the past, poor self image, fear etc…)
conclusion: OUR = US
Well – there is one last thing I want to add about this little word “our”. We must note that it does not say ‘your’ sins and ‘your’ justification – but ‘our’. It is true, it is for you, and you must take the resurrection for yourself and rise with Christ, but you must not take it just for yourself. It is ours. We are a community. We are a family. That is why our mission here at MISSIODEI is Christ Community Culture. We must be in an uncommon community were we witness, encourage little deaths and resurrections all the time. And we must enter into our culture to bring resurrection and life into the hopeless death all around us.
Today, as a community, we will gather around our children and their parents and we will commit to be the kind of community that helps and teaches, and encourages our children to Live respected lives.