Offer Your Bodies As a Living Sacrifice

Romans 12-1 imageThe YouTruth in Romans 12:1

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”

Worship can have many components and styles—singing traditional hymns or contemporary praise songs, silent prayer or reciting the Lord’s Prayer, liturgical responsive reading, reciting creeds, sermons or messages, audio-visual aids. There is one component that is often overlooked—sacrifice.

Paul cites that offering our bodies as a living sacrifice is true worship. Does that mean that all of our usual forms of worship are untrue and unpleasing to God? No, of course not. But what it does mean is that sacrifice must be included in the mix or none of the rest of it matters.

Corporate, Sunday-morning worship is a vital part of a life of faith, so much so that God designated a Sabbath day each week during which we are commanded to worship and rest. Without a Sabbath for this purpose, we are ships without a mooring, we are wanderers without direction. But Sunday worship that does not launch us into six days of sacrificial living, is not worship at all. The two must go together.

Remember that the key word is sacrifice. You know your Sunday worship is effective when Monday through Saturday contain regular instances of forgoing self-interest, experiencing inconvenience or even suffering at times, to love and help others in Jesus’ name.

Be a “sacrificing worshipper” today! (Don’t forget to go to church and worship next Sunday, too.)

Jesus Carried Your Sorrows

Most of us are familiar with the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ arrest, trial, and eventual crucifixion. In these accounts, Isaiah’s prophesy in chapter 53 is fulfilled. Through Isaiah’s words, God delivered two essential messages. We find these messages when we ask the question, “What did Jesus carry to that hill at Calvary?” There are two distinct answers to the question, and if we miss one or the other, we leave blessings on the table that Jesus intended for us. So let’s make sure we get them both!

“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.  But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

Isaiah 53:4-5 (NIV)

About 700 years before Jesus arrival on earth, the prophet Isaiah shared the great news that He would one day come.  Isaiah also shared gritty details about what Jesus would do for us. Sometimes we are too busy grimacing at the details of His death, being crushed, wounded, whipped, slaughtered as a lamb, that we may forget an important part of Isaiah’s prophecy – what He carried.

Answer 1:  The Cross

Message 1 (part one):  God’s love for us is unbelievably deep

Part of being ‘crushed’ and ‘wounded’ using the Roman methods of the time required the condemned to carry the cross that he would be crucified on. So it was with Jesus.  After being whipped and beaten within inches of His life, He had to drag this heavy object through the streets to Golgotha. It was so difficult that He couldn’t actually make it all the way. Simon from Cyrene, who had travelled to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, was pulled from the crowd to carry it the rest of the way. (see Luke 23:26) That Jesus would be physically unable to carry it all the way is understandable. The cross probably weighed 100 pounds or more. It is the cross that draws much of our focus when we remember Jesus’ sacrificial death. That He would willingly put Himself through such agony for those who were but sinners (namely us) is hard to fathom. It allows us to understand the true depth of His love and concern for those of the world. Jesus taught that the ultimate expression of love is to lay down one’s life for another (See John 10:11-16, John 15:13). As usual, Jesus was no passive teacher in this regard.

When we remember that Jesus left His position in the highest realms of heaven, at the very right hand of God, to the lowest, most brutal point on the earth, elevates Jesus’ sacrifice to a level unequaled.

Or does it?

Not yet.

There’s something missing here. You see, this act of carrying the cross and dying upon it is without any meaning or significance whatsoever by itself. Isaiah’s passage tells us Jesus carried something else that day. If Jesus did not also carry this, He would not have laid down His life for us, He would have just laid down His life.  We need. . .

Answer 2:  Our sins

Message 1 (conclusion):  God’s love for us is unbelievably deep.

The true gift of Jesus’ sacrifice lies in this additional baggage. How much additional burden did He bear because, not only was He carrying a dreadfully heavy wooden cross, He was carrying every sin, every grief, every sorrow, every transgression ever committed by every person that ever lived or would ever live for all of human history. This is a burden we cannot even comprehend. And now, Jesus has died for us. He has paid the penalty for all of our sins, so we don’t have to. He has taken our place and accepted our punishment upon Himself, even though He committed none of the sins for which He was punished!

Now that’s true love.

Message 2:  There’s is no carrying left for us to do.

Jesus carried all of these sins to the cross for us already. That is great news for us today! When we are feeling burdened with the guilt of past sins, we can know that Jesus already carried them to the cross already. When we are feeling burdened with the sorrow of missed opportunities to love others, we can know that Jesus carried them to the cross already. There is no carrying left for us to do.

In fact, the burden we feel for all of these things is an illusion. Sometimes, a self-created illusion, sometimes an illusion created by Satan’s deception, but illusions nonetheless. Illusions that rob us of the peace Jesus intends for us, rob us of the healing He has already done in us. So let’s not be fooled! Let’s rejoice instead, stand up straight, leap into the air! We can do it. There’s nothing weighing us down. That’s the truth.

Jesus took up your infirmities and carried your sorrows. There is no carrying left for you to do! He was pierced for your transgressions, He was crushed for your iniquities; the punishment that brings you peace was upon Him, and by his wounds you are healed.

That’s the YouTruth – Jesus Carried Your Sorrows.