The Promise of the Cross
All that we need to trust God for is found in the cross. When we understand what took place through the ‘foolishness of the cross’ we understand all we need to know about God and other humans. When you know the character of God revealed on the cross and what he things about us as revealed on the cross, you’ve got the essence of all you need to know about anyone.
- Give an example of an everyday situation where you doubt something or someone. (ex. A salesman tells you that you look great in everything)
- Share a time when you have seen fear or doubt result in strength or resilience.
- What questions and comments did you have about the sermon and supporting texts?
“When the crucified Jesus is called ‘the image of the invisible God,’ the meaning is that this is God and God is like this.” – Jürgen Moltmann, The Crucified God
- Read John 12v20-36
- The death of Jesus for our sins is at the heart of the gospel. Increasingly, however, what the church has considered good news is now considered by the rest of the culture to be bad news. Many liberal theologians reject the cross altogether because it looks to them like “divine child abuse.” Do you agree or disagree? Why?
- If a child asked you “Why did Jesus have to die?” how would you respond? A teenager? Your coworker?
- The New Testament speaks about the significance of the cross in a variety of ways:
- It was the atoning sacrifice for our sins (Heb 10:10-14)
- It satisfied God’s justice (Romans 3v25)
- It provided an example for believers (Phil 2v5-11; 1 Pet 2v21)
- It conquered Satan (John 12v31; Col 2v14-15; 1 John 3v8)
Which description is most comfortable for you?
- When you have been wronged you can either seek to have the perpetrator pay or you can absorb the cost yourself. But in either case, the cost of the damage must be borne by someone. The debt does not somehow vanish into thin air. What are the problems with seeking retribution? What are the challenges to offering forgiveness?
- Read Acts 2v23; 3v15; 5v30; 7v52. Who killed Jesus?
- The Bible is clear, God is not the one who demanded crucifixion. God is the one who was crucified. God did not inflict pain on someone else, but rather on the cross absorbed the pain, violence, and evil of the world into himself. The cross is not about the appeasement of a monster god. The cross is about the revelation of a merciful God. Discuss.
“At the cross we discover a God who would rather die than kill his enemies.” - Brian Zahnd
Having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. - Colossians 2v15
- The work of the cross was also about God’s power disarming and dethroning the cruel, illegitimate, power of Satan. Jesus said, ‘now is the time for judgment on the world.’ How did the cross disarm the Jewish religious authorities? Roman political authorities? Spiritual rulers, powers, and authorities?
Just as Christ established the kingdom of God by the ways his life, ministry, teachings and death contrasted with the power-dominated kingdom of the world so his followers are called to advance the kingdom of God by living lives that sharply contrast with the kingdom of the world.
- How can we live out the pattern of the cross in our lives? Our marriage? Our workplace? Our city?
- Dostoevsky wrote, “At some thoughts a man stands perplexed, above all at the sight of human sin, and he wonders whether to combat it by force or by humble love... Always decide: “I will combat it by humble love.” If you resolve that once for all, you can conquer the whole world. Loving humility is a terrible force: it is the strongest of all things, and there is nothing else like it.” Discuss.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
Pray the Lord’s Prayer with a special focus on the line: “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Who can you pray for today? Who can you invite to Easter this weekend?