LIFE group guide: the colors of Christ’s cross

 

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (April 13) in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church. This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon that morning. To find previous group discussion guides, look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous issues.

Reason

Stated in a single sentence, this is the purpose of this morning’s sermon.

To help us sense and appreciate the full spectrum of meaning of the cross of Jesus Christ.

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this sermon.

•  The message of the cross is … the power of God for those of us who are being saved. (1 Cor. 1.18)

•  Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us—because it is written, “Everyone who is hung on a tree is cursed.” (Gal. 3.13)

•  God forbid that I should boast about anything except for the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. The world has been crucified to me through him, and I have been crucified to the world. (Gal. 6.14)

•  He reconciled them both as one body to God by the cross … (Eph. 2.16)

•  He brought peace through the blood of his cross. (Col. 1.20)

•  … he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phil. 2.8)

•  He carried in his own body on the cross the sins we committed … (1 Pet. 2.24)

Relation

Use one of the following icebreaker questions to prime the pump, to help the conversation begin. Choose one to discuss.

1. Do you have a favorite color? If so, what is it? Why is it your favorite?

2. Overall, are you more of a visual learner or an auditory learner?

3. Think of someone you love. What color are their eyes? “Their eyes often seem to ___.”

Research

These exercises/questions are meant to help us grapple with the Scripture(s) related to this sermon.

1. Chew on Galatians 6.14 (especially vs.14b). What is the apostle Paul saying to us here?

2. Consider Eph. 2.16 and Col. 1.20. How did (does) Christ’s cross bring people together?

Reflection

These questions assist our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us in our encounter with God’s word.

1. What one color dominates your sense of what Christ accomplished on his cross? Why?

2. Just as we need Four Gospels, we need multiple colors to truly see the cross. How so?

3. With #1 in view, has your dominant color of his cross changed with age? Experience?

4. Picture Christ’s crucifixion. Does his resurrection and ascension re-color things?

5. Visualize taking up your cross and following Jesus. What colors do you see? Explain.

Response

These ideas/suggestions are for your use beyond the group meeting; to aid in living out today’s message in the coming days.

1. Assign the color you “see” in each paragraph of Mk. 15.16-40. Let such prompt prayer.

2. As you pray through each day, allow colors of whatever stands out to you or strikes you to prompt your mindfulness of, and reflection on, Christ’s cross, and yours.

this went thru my mind (b)

 

Body & soul: God is Not in the Business of Saving Souls by K. Rex Butts

“… let’s get our language correct. God is not in the business of saving souls. God is in the business of redeeming creation and that includes us…our whole self, our entire being, our body.”

Confession: Practical Advice on Confession by Bill Mounce

“[Confession] is, in a sense, a skill we all need to develop, whether we are new on the path of discipleship or a seasoned traveler.”

Capital punishment: Seeking an End to an Execution Law They Once Championed by Adam Nagourney

“It’s been a colossal failure. … The cost of our system of capital punishment is so enormous that any benefit that could be obtained from it — and now I think there’s very little or zero benefit — is so dollar-wasteful that it serves no effective purpose.”

Crucifixion of Jesus: Why Was Jesus Crucified? by Larry Hurtado

“… however attractive to our own gentle instincts may be the sort of Jesus touted often, a guy who wouldn’t hurt a fly and just wanted everyone to be friends, we have to posit a Jesus who could get himself crucified.”

Death of Jesus: Did Jesus Die of a Broken Heart? by Caleb Wilde

“Let me suggest that Jesus died from stress-induced cardiomyopathy as a result of the rejection and grief he experienced as he walked the world.”

Fear: Fear-Driven Christianity by Timothy Archer

“Too often, we let fear determine our practices, what we will do and what we won’t. … While actively seeking to do what is unsafe is foolish, focusing on “safety” in religion can lead us to an even more dangerous place.”

Focus: Your Focus Really Does Makes a Difference by Jim Martin

“Some people are reactive. They are forever talking about what used to be. … Others are proactive. They stand on tiptoes peering into the future. For these people, life is meant to be lived.”

Generations: How to Reach a Lost Generation 6: The Burden is on Them As Well by Matt Dabbs

“… the burden is not solely on the church when it comes to reaching young adults. They have a burden as well. When Christ’s call comes to someone it is a call to change.”

Hurry sickness: Why Faster is Not Better by Chris Altrock

“One of the things that most hinders our ability to lean into Jesus’ vision for the relationships in our lives is the rush of our lives. We simply don’t have time for people.”

Politics: 5 Attitudes for a Christian in a Political Season by Daniel Darling

“Let’s be honest. Much of what drives elections is fear. Both sides gin up fear about the other side. … But Christians can’t and shouldn’t be driven by fear, but by confidence in the sovereignty of God.”

The upper room: Reclining in the Upper Room by Ferrell Jenkins

“Each of the Gospels tell us something about the last supper Jesus ate with His disciples prior to the crucifixion. … Both Mark and Luke inform us that the room was a “large upper room furnished” (Mark 14:15; Luke 22:12).”

To-do: What I Learned About To-Do Lists From my Eight-Year-Old Son by Michael Hyatt

“Even though Harrison had a hectic summer schedule, which consisted of playing with friends, building Legos, and recreational-sleep he still put “play with Dad” as an important task to be completed.”

30 days with the Human One (11)

 

Peter was the first person to put two and two together and make the candid assessment and statement that Jesus was both “the Human One” and “the Christ” (the Messiah). His declaration is recorded in all three of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew 16:13-19; Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-21). After his statement, everything in the Gospel accounts begins to change.

How so? The answer is painful.

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he had to go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and legal experts, and that he had to be killed and raised on the third day. (Matthew 16:21 CEB)

Then Jesus began to teach his disciples: “The Human One must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and the legal experts, and be killed, and then, after three days, rise from the dead.” He said this plainly. (Mark 8:31-32a CEB)

He said, “The Human One must suffer many things and be rejected—by the elders, chief priests, and the legal experts—and be killed and be raised on the third day.” (Luke 9:22 CEB)

The Human One – the one who was just like us, but who had been doing things impossible for us – giving sight to the blind, raising the dead, forgiving sins, etc. – now reveals that he will soon do the unthinkable. He will do what all of us humans do: he will die.

Peter, the same who was first to identify the Human One as also the Christ, is now the first to object to the Christ being human! The Human One simply can’t die! But Peter could not be more wrong. Matthew and Mark record their clash with these words:

Then Peter took hold of Jesus and, scolding him, began to correct him: “God forbid, Lord! This won’t happen to you.” But he turned to Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are a stone that could make me stumble, for you are not thinking God’s thoughts but human thoughts.” (Matthew 16:22-23 CEB)

… But Peter took hold of Jesus and, scolding him, began to correct him. Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, then sternly corrected Peter: “Get behind me, Satan. You are not thinking God’s thoughts but human thoughts.” (Mark 8:32-33 CEB)

Pay particular attention to the last sentence in both of those accounts and you’ll come away with something like the following. (1) The Human One was thinking God’s thoughts. (2) The Human One desires the rest of us humans to do the same. (3) The worst thing we can do as humans is to think merely human thoughts.

Read that last sentence again and let that soak in.

“So how exactly are we humans supposed think beyond our merely human thoughts, Human One?,” we ask?

By ceasing to live for ourself and to begin living after the Human One by putting our whole being under his rule. By replicating the Human One’s way of living as much as is possible for us to do so. Or in the words that immediately follow in Matthew, Mark, and Luke:

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me will find them. Why would people gain the whole world but lose their lives? What will people give in exchange for their lives? For the Human One is about to come with the majesty of his Father with his angels. And then he will repay each one for what that person has done. I assure you that some standing here won’t die before they see the Human One coming in his kingdom.” (Matthew 16:24-28 CEB)

After calling the crowd together with his disciples, Jesus said to them, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me and because of the good news will save them. Why would people gain the whole world but lose their lives? What will people give in exchange for their lives? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this unfaithful and sinful generation, the Human One will be ashamed of that person when he comes in the Father’s glory with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:34-38 CEB)

Jesus said to everyone, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow me. All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me will save them. What advantage do people have if they gain the whole world for themselves yet perish or lose their lives? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Human One will be ashamed of that person when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. I assure you that some standing here won’t die before they see God’s kingdom.” (Luke 9:23-27 CEB)

We need to pray.

In the name of Jesus, Heavenly Father, I want to die to myself and live to you. May none of my ways shame you. Let me unashamedly proclaim you with my thoughts, my words, and my ways. Amen.

Question: in what do you find yourself most often settling for thinking human thoughts, rather than thinking the Human One’s thoughts?

cry

Cry with the Christ as even the sun he created can no longer bear the sight of its Creator on his cross.

“From noon until three in the afternoon the whole earth was dark.”

Cry with the Christ as he cries out words of Scripture which simultaneously echo our wrestling with faith and the victory of God.

“At three, Jesus cried out with a loud shout, ‘Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani,’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you left me?’”

Cry for the Christ as misunderstanding of who he is and what he says continues even as he writhes at death’s door.

“After hearing him, some standing there said, ‘Look! He’s calling Elijah!’ Someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, and put it on a pole. He offered it to Jesus to drink, saying, ‘Let’s see if Elijah will come to take him down.’”

Cry with the Christ as he, the innocent one, bears the full penalty of our sin and shame.

“But Jesus let out a loud cry and died.”

Cry to the God of Christ of this mixing of holiness and unholiness.

“The curtain of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom.”

Cry at the thought of Christ, the Son of God, certainly dead.

“When the centurion, who stood facing Jesus, saw how he died, he said, ‘This man was certainly God’s Son.’” (Mark 15:33-39 CEB)

In the name of Christ, before his cross, cry.

on his cross in the wilderness

They also led two other criminals to be executed with Jesus. When they arrived at the place called The Skull, they crucified him, along with the criminals, one on his right and the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” They drew lots as a way of dividing up his clothing.

The people were standing around watching, but the leaders sneered at him, saying, “He saved others. Let him save himself if he really is the Christ sent from God, the chosen one.”

The soldiers also mocked him. They came up to him offering him sour wine and saying, “If you really are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” Above his head was a notice of the formal charge against him. It read “This is the king of the Jews.”

One of the criminals hanging next to Jesus insulted him, “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”

Responding, the other criminal spoke harshly to him, “Don’t you fear God, seeing that you’ve also been sentenced to die? We are rightly condemned, for we are receiving the appropriate sentence for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus replied, “I assure you that today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:32-43 CEB)

I cannot read this passage without thinking of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13).

In the first wilderness temptation, the devil came to Jesus encouraging his relief from pain and hunger through bread. In the wilderness of the cross, Satan offers him sour wine to numb the pain.

In the first wilderness temptation, Satan came to Jesus and offered him every kingdom his eyes could see. In the wilderness of the cross, the Christ keeps his focus on his Father’s unseen kingdom and continues to lead dying men into it.

In the first wilderness temptation, the devil came to Jesus with the suggestion of acting on his own making a spectacle of himself. In the wilderness of the cross, the Christ remains dependent on his Father in prayer and despite the taunts of others, refuses to physically save himself.

In his victory over Satan in the first wilderness experience, Jesus resisted temptation to serve us with his life. On his cross in the wilderness, Jesus vanquished Satan, overcoming temptation and so, serving us by his death.

Jesus is the Christ; Jesus rules.

Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.