Don’t Miss This!

Sunday October 17, 2021 The Twenty-ninth Sunday Ordinary Time (Cycle B)

The tie in between today’s readings: The wages of sin is death, but eternal life is in Jesus.

Psalm 33:18-22Isaiah 53:10-11Hebrews 4:14-16Mark 1`0:35-45

The wages of sin is death. The day Adam and Eve sinned by eating the forbidden fruit they died just as God told them, first spiritually, then physically. Before He threw them out of Paradise, the Almighty promised a showdown between Satan and Himself. God declared that Satan would bruise the heel of the woman’s seed, but Satan’s head would be crushed. From that point on, a war raged between the Devil, who was trying to hold on to his conquered kingdom, and God reaching out to redeem a fallen mankind.

From our perspective, God should have struck Adam and Eve dead right then and there for their sin. But instead, He kills the first animals and makes clothing for them. He covered their nakedness and by this also symbolically covered their sin. The sacrificial system had begun. Don’t miss this! The purpose of a sacrifice is substitution: the acknowledgement that I deserve to die in the place of this animal.  Therefore, an intimate connection arises between me and the life that is taken to cover my sin debt to God.  As Biblical history unfolds, God expands on the application of a sacrifice. With Abel as the first example, we see the sacrifice of a lamb for a man. Then fast forward to the Passover: a lamb for a family. Next, as God sets up the Levitical priesthood, Yom Kippur applies a sacrifice for the nation. But the Bible says that the blood of bulls and goats could not really take away sin. These have all so far been ceremonial foreshadowings of the real sacrifice: Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. On Calvary’s cross at high noon, the showdown is climaxing.

Today’s reading in Isaiah tells us that God was pleased to crush Jesus as a sin offering. But how can something that happened two thousand years ago apply to us today? Our reading in Mark 10 can clue us in.  James and John want prime positions in Jesus’ kingdom. Jesus asks them if they can drink His cup and be baptized with His baptism, referring to His baptism by fire in paying the wages of our sins on the cross. They say yes and Jesus agrees that they will. This illustrates an amalgamation between Christ and the sinner, in this case James and John. By faith, we spiritually drink His cup with Him in the garden of Gethsemane (condemned) and are baptized by fire with Him on the cross (executed).  We die as Jesus did. Satan bruised Jesus’ heel on the cross, but his head is crushed by Christ’s resurrection.  In Him, we also spiritually resurrect to a new life freed from sin, from the Devil’s control, and redeemed back to God. *

 Game Over! Once and for all, God accomplished on the cross what the whole history of animal sacrifices could not do: complete and eternal salvation for mankind.  When we do sin, we now have a great high priest, Jesus Christ, who understands our weaknesses and beckons us to come and find grace (Heb 4:14-16). He sits at God’s right hand and pleads for our pardon by His sacrifice. The Father always listens.  So, if Satan ever makes you feel guilty by tormenting you about your sinful past…just bring Jesus up and remind him about his disastrous future.

On the surface, the sacrificial system of blood and death seems all so gruesome and gory, but if you peel back the layers you see one shining attribute echoing through it all: love. God so loved the world that He gave His Son (John 3:16). Greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13). Here is love, not that we loved God, but He loved us and gave His life a ransom for many, and on and on (1 John 4:10). Love is why it pleased the Father to crush His Son! We can rejoice in God’s mercy and loving kindness through Jesus (Psalm 33).  So don’t be on the outside looking in. The wages of your sin needs to be paid. If not by Jesus, then it will be by you in the lake of fire forever: the second death (Revelations 20:14). Do not refuse the love of God, because there is no escape if you neglect so great a salvation (Hebrews 2:3). By faith, believe in the sacrifice offered to you in Jesus and go through the judgment of God with Him. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23).

·       I go into this topic in more detail in a Sacramental Illustration of Saving Faith, located in this blog under: Insights.

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