The Sermon Word on the Week 25th September 2021.
Most, if not all, religious groups which take the Bible as one of their guides produce a homily, sermon or prophetic word which becomes the main vehicle through which the people are spiritually fed. You might say it is a true “Word for the Week” as it is delivered faithfully weekly, usually on a Sunday.
In my own background I must have heard, at a conservative estimate, 3,500 sermons! Of these approximately 800 were preached before the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to understand that Christ crucified was central. Trusting in the risen Christ followed, made it personal and, however faltering, life changing.
From his earliest writings St Paul emphasised the theme of Christ crucified. In his first letter to the new Corinthian Church he wrote “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. (Chapter 2 verses 2-5).
Many preachers have tried to follow the Apostles advice but without the Spirit’s power. The sermon then becomes like the Grand old Duke of York who marched his soldiers up to the top of the hill only to march them down again! The benefits of a hilltop experience were somehow lost in the homeward rush as the Sunday lunch beckoned!
At the hilltop Donald McLeod’s question must be asked, “What’s He doing on a cross”? Or as the song puts it “The darling of heaven crucified”. The most bewildering event in history. The greatest paradox ever deserves an answer and it falls to the preacher with the aid of the Spirit to provide it.
The Apostle Peter writing about authority has this to say of the submission of Jesus; “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wound you have been healed” (1 Peter Chapter 2 verse 24).
The healing referred to here is the fruit of God’s love – the forgiveness of sins and is for anyone who now severs their ties to them and literally dies to sin so as to be freed up to the Spirits leading into a life of righteousness. The rescue from the past, the new life for the present, and the presence of Christ’s Spirit for the future in this world and the next.
It is all there on the hilltop for the preacher to reveal (1 Peter 1 verses 3 to 6).