GET ACQUAINTED: Think of examples of substitutes we use in the foods we eat and substitutes in our daily lives, schools, or environments. Share it.
SCRIPTURE: "Now from the sixth hour there was a darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with aloud voice saying, 'Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?' that is 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'" (Matthew 27:45-46 )
Open your time together with prayer. NOTE: This is only a guide! Feel free to select the points you want to discuss and adapt them to your needs.
OBSERVATION: In normal circumstances, a "substitute" such as a substitute teacher or substitute musician gets little respect because we assume it's a short-term, inferior solution. In the case we'll consider here, the substitute was a far better solution because Jesus substituted Himself for all our past and future guilt. God is just, so someone had to pay for our sins. Jesus became our atoning sacrifice, providing compensation for all the damage and injury that our sins cause. As 1 John 2:2 says, "He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the sholw world." In this discussion, we'll look back at what historical event teaches us and what our response to it should be going forward.
What does the cross teach us?
- God is holy!
(Habakkuk 1:3 ) " You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong..." What does the first part of this verse tell us about how God reacts to evil and wrongdoing? Jesus' words on the cross "My God, my god, why have you forsaken me," indicate that God had to look away when Jesus was carrying all our sins and dying because the evil that Jesus took upon Himself was so great. Why wouldn't God, therefore, forsake us when we do something evil?
- Sin is ugly!
According to Romans 6:23 , "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." What gift does God give to compensate for the death that should result from our sin? How does God's solution fix the alienation our sin causes? The Bible teaches us that God is "righteous," meaning He is always right, fair, and just. What are a few examples?
- Salvation is costly.
How does Romans 6:23 say we are made right with God? "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord," what gift does God give to compensate for the death that should result from our sin? What is the total "cost" addressed by God's payment?
How should I respond?
- Turn from my sin and trust Jesus to save me. According to Romans 3:23 , "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," what is the key thing we have to do to be made right in God's eyes?
- Live in a state of gratitude. Being joyful for what Jesus has done is an expression of gratitude. According to Romans 5:11 , "More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have received reconciliation," what are some things we ought to be grateful for?
- When tempted, remember my sin cost Jesus. What is the ransom God paid for our sin described in 1 Peter 1:18-19 , "knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, bu with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot?" How can someone abuse this?
- Tell others the Good News. 2 Peter 3:9 , "The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that nay should perish, but that all should reach repentance." Whom does God want to have an opportunity to turn towards Him for salvation? What is our responsibility in this?
Worship: Realizing the price God paid to buy us back from the binding power of sin, accepting what Jesus has done so we can have intimate relationship with Him, and living in gratitude in worship. However, continuing in sin prevents us from having this relationship. Examine yourself today to see if you are living in joy and gratitude. If not, what is preventing you from being happy and grateful? If there is any sin that prevents you from being close to God, bring it before Him today so you can have joyful and grateful worship in your life.
Personal Application: In giving up His Son's life for us, our holy and almighty God made eternal life available to everyone because He loves each one of us. We learned that to not accept Christ as the sacrifice for our sins leaves us neither hope nor any other way to have eternal life. Make the remaining days before Easter count by remembering Jesus' ultimate sacrifice. Think of how to reflect this gratitude in your everydat life in honor of what God has done for you. In order to share the Good News, what are some sacrifices you might have to make? Will it be your fear, your pride, or your time? In loving sacrifice and gratitude for your own salvation, pray to God to remove these impediments.
Prayer: "Thank You Lord for giving Your life for all, so we can live eternally with You. Help us not to take Your loving sacrifice for granted. Move our hearts and spirits in these coming weeks to worship and honor You in all we think and do. Give us holy boldness to reach out in love to serve others and find open doors to share the Good News. Direct our words and our actions in a way that would usher all mankind into the Kingdom of God."