Third Sunday after Epiphany: “Proclamation is Profitable”
1 Corinthians 1:1-9
The Cross is a picture of what is wrong with humanity. All that is wrong with man and the world as influenced by the devil, by the powers and principalities is shown by the Cross. The reason Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself on the cross is so that we can see our wrong. The verse song says, “Now, O Lord, we see our wrong, heal our hearts and show Yourself strong.” The Cross was the product of religion, politics, envy, hatred and all evil inflicted on one Man who happened to be innocent. The Cross is all the place we see God’s forgiveness.
In Romans 3:25 MSG Translation, “God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin.” (We only have one God, yet three Persons; the sacrifice of Jesus was the sacrifice of the Father and the Holy Spirit; it was God Himself, in the person of Jesus.) God decided on this course of action in full view of the public … finally taking care of the sins he had so patiently endured.”
Colossians 2:15 TLB, “In this way God took away Satan’s power to accuse you of sin (through the Cross) and God openly displayed to the whole world Christ’s triumph at the cross were your sins were all taken away.” All the blame, guilt and sin were taken away. This is why Jesus is called the Lamb of God who takes away of the world. It is not those who always come to Church, those who give their tithe or who volunteer in ministries. It is the sin of the world that Jesus took away. Sin was all taken away and no one else has to die. Jesus died once for all.
The Cross is also Jesus showing us an alternative to life. We don’t have to live our lives in injustice, in hatred, in envy, in politics, in blaming people or judging them. We can live our lives according to His alternative which is forgiveness, peace, and love. For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. John the Baptist said, “He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” We see this on the Cross. When see the Cross, we don’t say, “This is what God does,” but “This is who God is.” The Cross is not a picture of what God inflicts out of anger, but what God endures out of love.
We have been taught that God the Father is an angry God because He was offended by the sins of man that it needed someone to pay for it; and that the Son was good because He made the sacrifice for man. God did not do this for Jesus. We did this for Jesus. In Acts, Peter said, “Jesus whom you crucified.” It was the sin of man that brought Jesus to be crucified. God the Father gave His Son to die on the cross not because He was an angry God, but because He so loved the world that He sacrificed His Son. Jesus freely accepted death because God is love. God the Father is love; God the Holy Spirit is love. Jesus accepted death and He was the blameless victim who took the blame and made us blame-less. We stand before Him blame-less because on Christ, the Solid Rock we stand.
When Adam and Eve ate of the fruit, they thought they knew good and bad, right and wrong. When two people are in an argument, when both think that they are both wrong, there is no conflict. However when one would always think that he is right and the other person is wrong, then there is a struggle. Adam and Eve blamed man whom Jesus made blame-less. What we inherited from them is that we judge and we blame when Jesus has taken all of the blame and the guilt and made us blame-less. We are guilty of “scapegoating”. It is the shifting of blame and the responsibility away from self to another. We are one humanity but we blame certain people or groups of people. We think that God is on our side and we think that we are judges, and we start the “blame-game”. This is the foundation of the fallen human society, the foundation of the world.
Revelation says that Jesus is the Lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world which has all its troubles. Jesus is offering a redemptive alternative, which is not accusing and not blaming. The truth is that the enemy is the one accusing. Satan’s name means accuser. He is the accuser of the brethren. Satan came in a subtle way when he approached Adam and Eve. He told them that if they eat of the fruit, they will be like God knowing what is right and wrong. This started them absorbing the character of Satan of accusing and pointing a finger.
When Adam was confronted by God, he blamed the woman that God gave to him. Eve blamed the snake that she said God created and tempted her. Blaming is so subtle that deceives us. Satan's name means accuser, blamer. His other name “Diablo” means divide. Judging, accusing and pointing fingers and blaming result in division. The fall of man is because he thought he knew what is right and wrong, who is good and bad, and he started judging, blaming, and accusing instead of submitting to God’s authority. We are called not to be judges but to submit to God’s authority.
From Adam and Eve, their son Cain was envious of Abel and saw him as a threat. Cain killed his brother and hid his body, but his blood flowed onto the ground for justice. This is what is also seen in the Cross. The blood of Jesus cries out to the whole world that scapegoating is wrong, which is the foundation of the world. Jesus is the Lamb that crumbles this foundation and builds another foundation.
The world is formed by scapegoats who happen to be mighty men of war. Why do we have geo-political entities? This is because there were warriors who were more powerful than other nations that they killed their people and established new empires. They believed that God was on their side. This is how wars started and this is how we have the nations today.
There is the blaming, judging and accusing when Jesus took all the sin, the blame and the accusations. Man is convinced that he is right and leans on his own understanding not knowing that he has been deceived. It came from the devil and it came subtly. We think it is right, it is hatred and malice. When our first apostles, James and John, saw that Jesus was not welcomed by the Samaritans, and claiming they were the sons of God, they asked Jesus, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” Jesus replied, “You don’t know what spirit you have. That is not from God.” That which comes from God is love, compassion and forgiveness.
This system is so deep-seated in man and it is sending man to hell and to all kinds of miseries and trouble that Jesus had to sacrifice Himself to make a massive and colossal public display of its wrongness. The innocent Lamb of God became the victim and scapegoat. He took all the blame so all blaming could stop. He died so that all killing could stop. Once for all, Jesus died for all.
The scapegoat came from the Old Testament wherein the Jews who were sinners would hold the goat that would be killed outside of the camp so that it takes the sin out of the camp. With Jesus, He was not the goat but the Lamb who was innocent. He was sentenced to death but He came back. He did not take revenge but showed us a more excellent way, which is peace and forgiveness. Jesus establishes the new world on peace and forgiveness because He took away the sin and brought it to hell. When He was crucified, He took the sin, the blame, the guilt and the accusations and brought it to hell. He left it all there and He rose again to a new creation.
The first law of Thermodynamics says that heat energy is never lost and destroyed. It is transferred to others and can change form. The energy is constant and in the world. Jesus broke the curse of the law, of thermodynamics as far as sin is concerned. He did not transfer the sin nor did He change the form, but instead, He absorbed it all by forgiving. He took the heat and left it in hell. He rose again so that He can welcome us to the new world.
Why would there a need for Jesus to be baptized when He was sinless? Jesus took upon Himself the sin of the whole world. He immersed Himself in the Jordan River so that He can leave the sin underwater. When He arose from the water, leaving the sin, something flew over the surface of the water which was the dove that represented the Holy Spirit. This is the Holy Spirit that was in the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth and when darkness was over all the land and the water. The Spirit of the Lord was hovering over the waters. This reminds us that this is now the new creation where sin is left in Sheol, under-water, in hell.
I ask you, “Why do we fish the sin out of the water and recycle it back to the new creation?” Sin has no place in the new creation. Jesus died for our sins so that we can come back to the creation of God which was good and where sin was not present. We should not recycle it but absorb it.
Priests were black because this color means “I bear your sins”. This is the reason we confess to a priest because he is the scapegoat. He takes it upon himself and bears it. In this sense, all of us are priests as priesthood of believers. We bear the sins of those who offend us and we do not recycle. The priest says during confession, “Your sins are removed.” The sin is taken away and absorbed. Take away the heat.
Jesus took away the sin of the world and we are expected to do something smaller. What He did in a great way, we do it in our small way. We forgive our offenders and we don’t recycle sin because blaming, accusing, and judging result in division. Absorbing and forgiving results in unity.
Jesus reestablishes the world on peace and forgiveness. This is how He takes away sin. Jesus is called the Cornerstone because He builds a new foundation of the kingdom of God. We are the ambassadors of this Kingdom. We are not fans, cheerers or spectators, but participants and followers of Jesus. As little Christ, we participate in the taking away of the sin of the world. Then, we renew the face of the earth. We usher in the fullness of the new creation and the life of the world to come because, this is the way it is in the kingdom of our God.