1 Peter 3:13-18

Chatswood Baptist Church https://www.chatswoodbaptist.com.au

Introduction

In Junior youth we’re going through the gospel tract 2 Ways to Live and so I thought it might be a good idea just to share with us all from one of the bible verses that the gospel outline covers.

It’s about the good news of Jesus given at the cross as a substitute—not for good and righteous people—but for the unrighteous, for sinners. And really it’s a good time to look at this verse, being so close to Christmas, because this event—the cross, or Easter—is really what Christmas is aimed at. Jesus came to earth in order to go to the cross and purchase salvation for all who would believe.

It’s the best gift ever given, and no gift ever given can ever be better.

And so let’s look at our verse and notice that I’ll have four points today:

  • Christ suffered
  • Once for sins
  • The righteous for the unrighteous
  • To bring you to God.

Christ suffered

The cross. Is there any other symbol known more widely?

Any image more commonly and permanently inked into one’s flesh?

Any item considered by more to have supernatural power against the demonic?

Any piece of jewellery more often worn around the neck?

Any charm hung from more rear-view mirrors?

People love the cross!

But perhaps we can forget… Is there any kind of execution any more brutal than what the cross represents?

Cicero the Roman statesman who lived in the first century said of crucifixion that it was ‘a most cruel and disgusting punishment.’

Even more…

‘To bind a Roman citizen is a crime, to flog him is an abomination, to kill him is almost an act of murder: to crucify him is — what? there is no fitting word that can possibly describe so horrible a deed.’

What is it about crucifixion that could make it seem so brutal?

Crucifixion was brutal, because it intentionally delayed the death of the crucified until maximum torture could be inflicted. Days could go by before the inevitable last breath was drawn by the one condemned to die.

A simple illustration: imagine being itchy. Some of you are itchy now just because I mentioned it. That place where you are itchy… try to resist scratching. If you’ve ever had an itch you can’t scratch you know that’s torture enough!

But add to that sensation that the reason you can’t scratch your itch is that you have nails in your hands and feet.

Add that yesterday, or even just this morning you were flogged so that you have open wounds all over your back, which is held up against a crude timber beam.

Now add that you’re in 35 degree heat and you’re thirsty. Most people can only survive a few days without water—maximum a week.

Now add that you’re also hungry.

Now add, that a bird lands on your head and you’re unable to shoo it away. can you imagine what the bird wants from you?

Now add that you’re naked and being watched by a multitude of people, who are spitting at you and calling out against you and ridiculing you.

It’s a horrible, shameful way to die, and this is the way that Jesus suffered.

But also note that our verse says that Christ suffered — Christ is a word that for simplicity’s sake we can just translate as King. But this king is THE king the King of all kings.

And our verse today tells us that the king of all kings—Jesus—suffered, in the most shameful way.

Once for sins

But why did Jesus suffer?

The scriptures tell us that Jesus suffered for sins. We see it in our verse don’t we?

“Christ suffered once for sins…”

Again, in 1 Corinthians 15:3 the Apostle Paul wants to pass on to the Church in the ancient city of Corinth the thing he thought was most important for them to know. He says:

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,”

And in Romans 4:25 “he was delivered over to death for our sins”

We have to understand this. Jesus didn’t accidentally suffer. He didn’t deserve to suffer either. He didn’t succumb to suffering. He wasn’t subjected to suffering.

No—Jesus willingly went to the cross for a very specific reason.

Jesus suffered and died for our sins.

Each of us sin. I sin. You sin, we all sin.

Sin is rejection of God’s right to rule. The rejection of the right claim that God has over us, his creation. It expresses itself in all kinds of ways: lying, cheating, pridefulness, greed, disordered sex and relationships, theft, murder.

Fundamentally, all these things are simply the rejection of God and his rule, because in each case we’re deciding to live life our own way without him.

Just like when a child lies to his brother or sister, they’re doing the wrong thing, but more than that they are disobeying their parents who told them not to lie.

It may surprise you… But I’m guilty! Actually we’re all guilty of sin. And sin actually requires justice be carried out against the perpetrator.

If we reject the authority of our parents as a child, we’re shown justice.

If you reject the authority of your boss at work—you probably won’t have a job for much longer. That’s justice.

If you reject the authority of the police—you’ll probably wind up in gaol. That’s justice.

If you reject the authority of the nation—you’re a traitor… and you might be in gaol a little longer. That’s justice.

If you reject the authority of God… your Creator; my Creator—the outcome is worse.

Romans 6:23 says, “The wages of sin is death”

Hebrews 9:27 says, “a person is destined to die once and after that to face judgement.”

The reality is, we have all sinned and face God’s judgement in death, and after that, we will face his eternal judgement for everything that we’ve done because of our sin.

But!

Jesus died on the cross to deal with the problem of sin and death—Christ suffered once for sins.

The Righteous for the unrighteous

I can remember a person at university during my degree asking about the crucifixion. He said, “thousands of people in the ancient world were crucified and endured the same torture Jesus endured.

What makes his death any different? What makes it special?

People today die brutal deaths—maybe even more brutal than Jesus’ death—what makes Jesus’ death different?”

Have you ever come across this kind of question? Or Perhaps you’ve had it yourself?

Our passage has the answer doesn’t it? Christ died once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous. What makes Jesus’ death different is Jesus himself. He never sinned and so was perfectly righteous. He did not deserve death.

The reality of this is incredible.

As we said before, we deserve death, but Jesus did not deserve death. Every other person in all of history has in one way or another deserved to die. So we actually need somebody to represent us before God.

Somebody who is unaffected by sin and its curse.

Jesus: Jesus lived the perfect life. He always lived under God’s rule. He never disobeyed. The great commands according to Jesus are to love God with all your heart and mind and soul and strength and to love your neighbour as yourself. Jesus did this perfectly, all the time, for the entirety of his life. He did not deserve to die. Sin never entered Jesus’ life.

Jesus was the only ever to have existed, truly righteous man. He was one of us, so he could represent us—but he was the perfect one of us. Our perfect representative before God.

So Jesus’ death is different, because Jesus himself was different. He is the only person in all of history who never deserved to die. He was the truly Righteous man.

Christ died once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous for the unrighteous…

To bring you to God.

Jesus’ death on the cross achieved what we could never achieve. Jesus bore our sin on his shoulders to bring us to God. God’s justice is satisfied at the cross. The debt you owe is cancelled. Trusting in this reality, you stand reconciled with God.

And I want to point something out that really shows just how good this good news is.

Notice that our verse does not say, Christ suffered many times for sins, or Jesus suffers continually for sins, or will need to suffer again for sins. No, it says Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous to bring you to God.

Trusting in Jesus death on the cross, you stand reconciled with God today, and tomorrow and forever after.

You can’t fall in and out of your good standing before God depending on whether you have a good or bad day. And you don’t need to do anything else to earn his favour!

What if you sin again? Christ suffered once for sins. That’s all sin past, present, future. All covered. All dealt with.

I saw a video the other day, of a guy on holiday. He was in Sri Lanka, and he had one of those go-Pros on his helmet as he rode through the mountains on his scooter. Anyway he stops on the road by one of those little tea shops, with a magnificent view. And he gets talking with the owner of the tea shop.

The guy had borrowed cash from the bank and built his little shop, and on a good day would sell about 20 cups of tea at 50 rupees each. 50 rupees is about 40 cents, so you could imagine the likelihood of this fellow being able to pay back his loan, earning $8 a day—on a good day that is.

Some of us probably know what it’s like to be in debt—and to just not be able to fathom how it could ever be paid off… working as hard as we can to keep our heads above water, let alone to get ahead or even have our debt finally cleared.

Well, this guy who visited the tea shop did some calculations and realised that his total debt was about one thousand Euros. You should have seen this shop owners face, when the traveller returned from his scooter with enough cash to totally pay off his entire debt. No questions asked. He was beaming from ear to ear!

Now God is like the one who doesn’t just give you the cash to pay off your current debt, only to let the debt accumulate again later. Instead, he gives you complete access to his boundless wealth, for all time! You can never be in debt again. Every debt is paid for: Past, present and future.

What this means is, trusting in Jesus’ death on the cross on your behalf, you can never again be in debt with God. Trusting in Jesus, the punishment your sin deserves, past, present, future. It’s all paid for and you stand today reconciled with God.

If you would only receive it.

Some people don’t receive this gift because they think they’re somehow not good enough. But look at this verse, what does it say? Jesus suffered for the righteous? No! The Unrighteous! If you’re righteous, Jesus didn’t suffer for you.

If you are unrighteous—not good enough—I’ve got good news for you.

Please don’t wait until you think you’re good enough, because that’s a bit like waiting until your cured of some terrible disease before you take the medicine.

Some people don’t receive this gift because they think they are good enough. Maybe just slightly better than everyone else… well if that’s you, I probably don’t have much to say that will change your mind, but at least listen to God’s perspective:

Romans 3:10-12 “There is no-one righteous, not even one; there is no-one who understands; no-one who seeks God…”

So that’s what God thinks. Could you imagine hearing that from God, knowing that’s what God thinks, and then deciding, “I’m probably good enough.”

Conclusion

I have a personal anecdote to close with.

When I was young, my brother and I were at McDonald’s with my Grandfather. Now my Grandfather was… old school. Kind of stand-offish, to a child, a bit grumpy I have to say. But he did take us to McDonald’s which was nice.

Anyway we were waiting in the queue at McDonald’s and he asks us, “what would you like?” And my brother said, “Oh don’t worry about buying us anything, we brought pocket money for dinner.” And he said, “Don’t be ridiculous! What would you like?” …

Well I took my brother’s lead and said, “No really don’t worry — we do chores at home and Mum and Dad give us some pocket money. We can buy our own dinner.” … Well, he stared at us both for a while.

Then he let us have it. He turned to my brother, took him by the arm and said—and neither of us could never forget this—he said, “Listen. If someone is silly enough to offer to pay for your meal, don’t be more silly than they are and refuse! Ridiculous! Honestly!”

I think we let him pay!

Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.

This is an incredibly good deal.

Think about this for one moment. What good reason do you have not to take this offer?

And don’t be confused, God is not silly, or reckless with this offer. It is actually in God’s great wisdom that Jesus is offered to you.

Don’t be foolish and refuse, but wise like God and receive the gift. Jesus in your place, for your sins. What a gift!

Christmas time is the time we remember and celebrate that Jesus came into the world. We’ll receive gifts from one another and we’ll enjoy family and good food..

Well as you receive each gift this Christmas, or as you give one, try pausing and remembering how easy it is to receive a gift. Do you have any good reason not to accept it? It’s easy!

In the same way… receive the gift Jesus offers you today. Why not? It’s a terribly costly gift, but it’s paid for—at the cross.

Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.

I promise you—you’ll be beaming from ear to ear when you realise the weight that’s been lifted. You and all your new christian family, brothers and sisters around the world.