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My pastor, the Rev. Mark Kirby, pastor of Forest Hills Baptist Church on Forest Hills Blvd. in the Bella Vista Highlands, preached a powerful sermon on March 8, focused upon the fourth cry from the cross while Jesus was being crucified.

In Matthew 27:46, while darkness covered the earth, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani," which translated means: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" If you want to hear powerful, Bible-based sermons in a small church setting, you are invited to attend worship at 10:45 a.m. each Sunday.

The biblical text indicates that those who heard this cry thought that maybe Jesus was calling out to Elijah but, in fact, it is more likely that he was quoting from Psalm 22:1. More to the point, Jesus was reacting to having God the Father turn his back upon him on the cross, since God does not look upon sin. The Bible affirms that Jesus did indeed take upon himself the sins of the world in order that we might be saved. As 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

It is so tempting to state our objection to the sins we dislike the most, but sin is sin for God. The problem for most of us is our inability to recognize that all sin is condemned by God, not just the big ones. The Hebrews actually had 613 laws (not just the Ten Commandments) that controlled their living. By the time of Jesus, these laws had been interpreted so many times that William Barclay, an Old Testament scholar, says there were literally thousands of laws the Jews were expected to keep in order not to sin. The Pharisees were the best at keeping these laws, but all good Hebrews were expected to also keep them.

The problem of sin also is complicated because there is no single definition of sin. Indeed, the Bible has a lot of definitions for sin. Consider that sin may be failure, error, iniquity, transgression, trespass, lawlessness, unrighteousness, and so on. Perhaps the single best definition may be stated as any action directed against God. In the Lord's Prayer, the King James Bible says, "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." The Revised Standard Bible says, "forgive us our debts..." Interestingly, the Living Bible (a paraphrase) says, "forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us." The Greek word being translated is actually a biblical word for sin.

Another sin mentioned in the Bible that is often overlooked is found in Judges 20:16 where it is said that among the mustered army "there were seven hundred chosen men who were left-handed, each of whom could sling a stone at a hair and not miss." The word used "to miss the mark" is a Hebrew word for sin. (As an aside, I built a sling as a young man and tried my best to "Hit any mark," but I failed miserably.) These soldiers were good; they did not "miss the mark -- e.g. sin."

Consider with me, if one sin may keep a person from God, then obviously many sins may also keep a person from God. And, since we have all sinned and fallen short of God (Romans 3:23), it was imperative that some way had to be created for us to overcome the sin in our lives. Thus, the apostle Paul, in Ephesians 2:8-9, summed up our dilemma succinctly when he pointed out, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -- not by works so that no one can boast." Jesus provided the grace we needed by taking upon himself our sins while on the cross. We need only to accept what he did by faith.

Let me put this another way. When God sits on His throne to judge the wicked, we will be brought before him and have to declare that indeed we are guilty of sin. However, just before God pronounces sentence and condemns us, Jesus steps up to the court, and says, "Yes, God (Father), this person is truly guilty, but before You pass sentence, I want you to know that I have already paid his price in order to set him free."

Thank God for the grace provided us through Jesus and his death upon the cross. God had to turn His face away from Jesus in his moment of need, but Jesus did not turn his face away from us.

-- Robert Box is the former chaplain for the Bella Vista Police Department and is currently the Fire Department chaplain. Opinions expressed are those of the author.

Religion on 03/18/2020

Print Headline: Jesus did indeed take upon himself the sins of the world

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