If there is one sure thing in Christianity it is the cross of Christ. We know beyond any question or dream that Jesus willingly, obediently shed His blood for us. What is often in question, however, is how His blood is applied to us. We find ourselves wondering often if Jesus' sacrifice was actually sufficient for us. Can He really cover that sin?
While we may not understand the details, we know Jesus is able to do what He says He will do, don’t we? When He told the disciples if they wanted to follow Him they must be willing to eat His flesh and drink His blood, many left. This was too much for them. But the 12 stayed. Even though they didn’t understand what He was talking about, they stayed. Why? Because they trusted Him. It hadn’t been a full 24 hours before they found themselves in a sinking boat and saw Jesus walking to them on the water. They couldn’t explain that either, but they knew one thing: they were still alive … and Jesus was the only real reason they could find for that fact. So, if He tells them they will have to eat His flesh and drink His blood if they want to follow Him, they will do what it takes.
We can talk all day about the importance of blood in the Old Testament, how it was required for sacrifices, and what it represented, but I’m not sure that would really accomplish our purposes together today. What I need you to walk away with today is this truth: the shedding of Jesus’ blood is offered as an exchange. Literally, Jesus' blood equals our life.
The shedding of Jesus’ blood means victory for us. So many believers live in bondage. I speak with believers often who are bound up in their sin. They may not say it like that, but they will quickly tell you that they rarely feel the peace of God at work in their hearts. They will tell you they rarely know the grace of God in their thoughts. They feel condemned. What does this mean for us? It means that more than anything the believers in south Arkansas must begin to apply the blood of Jesus to their sin. If we cannot live and move in the freedom Christ has won for us through the shedding of His blood, we will never be free.
The shedding of Jesus’ blood means we achieve common ground. We rally to similar things, like people and places. But the shedding of Jesus’ blood puts us on the most equal plane that has ever been created. If we cannot bind our hearts together over the blood of Jesus, we will forever be fractured. More than anything, believers need to recognize our commonality in Christ.
The shedding of Jesus’ blood means that He has established Himself as the head of the Church. He is the most important part of our Body! It is my joy to tell you that our church is not the most important name in the Kingdom of God found in Hope. Nor is any other single church found here. The name that rises above all others is the name of the Lamb who died and is now standing at the right hand of the throne of God. If the believers in south Arkansas cannot get their minds around this idea of the shed blood of Jesus, making Him the head of our churches, we are in trouble! We must set aside our differences and come together under the headship of Christ if we are to see our city walking in the light of Christ.
These three facets of Jesus' sacrifice for us lure us into a relationship with God and with each other that will endure into eternity. Are you willing to walk that road with me? We need a bonded, unified series of communities here more than anything. That will only happen as the churches stand up and cooperate with God’s agenda. That requires us to set our own agendas aside. We cannot champion our own individual causes and chase a unified Kingdom at the same time. The only way we are going to find Life is when we collectively lose our lives in Christ.
What I see here are towns that desperately need some good news. We have seen bits and pieces of good news over the last few years, but nothing that has really blown us away or offered any real, new direction for the future. We need HOPE! Hope is exactly the gift the church has to offer. What more should we offer our cities? If the Gospel is not enough, no announcement of a major factory relocating here or the construction of a new restaurant chain will do. We find our satisfaction in Christ alone. If He is not enough to satisfy and wash joy over our hearts, nothing will satisfy us. What’s more, restaurants close and factories move. While I am thankful for all of the work Development Boards and Advancement Committees do, I am more thankful for the Body of Christ. Within the Body lies the future and joy for south Arkansas.
Do you live as if that is a reality?