Celebrating the Resurrection of Christ
Sermons, Outlines, Illustrations, Meditations and Program Ideas
J. Michael Shannon & Robert C. Shannon
(c)opyright 1984, J. Michael Shannon

Cross Words
    A minister gave this advice to fellow preachers: "In promulgating your esoteric cogitations, assiduously eschew polysyllabic interjections."  That means, "Use small words." We all prefer small words, and I prefer to use them - largely because they are the ones I can understand.  But some subjects are so large they demand large words. Such is the case with the cross.  Coming here, we must speak of "atonement" and "propitiation," of "reconciliation" and "redemption."  The Bible uses such terms.  In Romans 5:9-11, we have the word "atonement."  John uses a synonym, "propitiation."  The idea is the same, balancing the books.  Sin created a debt that the cross somehow paid.  The cross satisfied the demands of Divine justice.

    When the first sin was committed, God slew an animal to make a covering for Adam and Eve.  Throughout the Old Testament, lambs were slain on the Day of Atonement.  Man is prohibited from eating blood, commanded not to spill blood.  Finally, we come to 1 Peter 1:18 and 19 and read of the precious blood of Christ.

    How did Christ's death pay the debt?  To whom was it paid?  Those are questions we cannot understand.  It is not necessary to understand it.  It is necessary to proclaim it.  Christ died in our place.  It was vicarious, to use another large word.  Christ's suffering was in our stead.  No matter how little we can comprehend it, this much is plain.  We share the guilt for the death of Christ.  We share the good from the death of Christ.  We need no other sacrifice.  Four times in Hebrews, the writer says Christ died once - "once for all!"

    Redemption speaks of freeing the enslaved.  That word is not in our text, but the idea is there.  We were in bondage to sin.  We were like indentured servants who had so indebted themselves to the devil that they must now be his bondservants.  We were in bondage to the law.  It laid upon us a thousand commandments.  A man could never keep all those rules.  He might only lean upon a wall and become so unclean he could not go to worship because on the other side of that wall was a dead body.  One could never live up to such a law.

    Our bondage is illustrated by the forty-seven miners trapped in a gold mine in California.  When the rescuers reached them they were dead.  In the richest room in the world they suffocated; they were trapped.  So sin traps us in the pleasures and riches and cares of this world.  A man in New Haven, Connecticut, died recently, in the same room in which he was born.  He had never slept in any other room.  Think of living all of one's life in a single room!  Yet sin so enslaves us, so traps us, that we never see the far spiritual horizons of life.  From that bondage Christ sets us free!

    Reconciliation.  That word looms large in our text.  The reuniting of the separated; man separated from God and, because of that, separated from his fellowman.  The cross reunites both.  Recently, a door was broken in a Sunday School classroom, split down the middle.  Until a new one could be bought, the custodian nailed the broken pieces together again.  That is what happened on the cross.  Christ literally nailed back together the shattered and broken fragments of our world.

    Addison Leitch tells about a trip to Egypt.  Along the coast he was shown the spot where a young girl got into trouble in the water.  Two young men, missionaries, plunged in to save her.  By some strange circumstance, they both drowned, but she was saved.  Don't you wonder how she felt?  You know how she felt!  It happened to you at Golgotha.  Imagine coming to that place years afterward and finding that girl, grown to womanhood, her life wasted in trifles or in sin.  We would ask, "Was her life worth the sacrifice of those others?"  And what if we waste our lives lives bought at so great a sacrifice!

Illustrations and Quotations
Table of Contents
Cross Roads

Scanned and proofread by Michael Riggs