Each sermon is published in large print for use in preaching, and for easy reading by several people gathered around the computer monitor.
JESUS DID NOT UNDERGO CORRUPTION, BUT HIS CREATION DID
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
22 APRIL 1990
By Frank l. Hoffman, Pastor
Genesis 1:9-10, 28
Preparation Verse: (Genesis 1:9-10)
Then God said, "Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear"; and it was so. And God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good.
I have titled today's sermon, "Jesus Did Not Undergo Corruption, But His Creation Did."
I did this because today is the 2nd Sunday of Easter and also because it is Earth Day; and I wanted to point out to you a very important correlation in Scripture that ties these two together.
Last Sunday we talked about our need to believe; and as part of that study, we looked at the struggle we have in believing, and that even Jesus' original disciples had this problem – particularly Thomas, who had to see the Lord's physical wounds.
First, let's take a look at a portion of Psalm 16, beginning at verse 7, and see what this prophetic psalm of David's has to say about Christ's death.
7. I will bless the Lord who has counseled me;
Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.
8. I have set the Lord continually before me;
Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Each of us can be like David, and each of us should be better than David because we are aware of the traps that he fell into.
But in his relationship to God, we should be at least as strong as he was.
When he became aware of his sins, he brought them before the Lord and repented, and thus he was forgiven.
As this Psalm says, he placed the Lord in the position of honor in his life, at his right hand, where the Lord could give continual counsel, even while he slept, for the words of the Lord were continually in his mind.
What was the result?
Let's see as we continue with verse 9:
9. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will dwell securely.
10. For Thou will not abandon my soul to Sheol;
Neither wilt Thou allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay.
11. Thou wilt make known to me the path of life;
In Thy presence is fullness of joy;
In Thy right hand there are pleasures forever.
If the Lord is first in our lives, we will have joy and we will feel secure even in the face of corruptible things, for we know that the Lord will not abandon us to hell.
But David adds something else to this Psalm.
He speaks prophetically of his future generations, and particularly of his lineage to Jesus Christ, and that even His body would not be dead long enough to decay or be corrupted.
The Hebrew word used here is "shaw-khaht," which means a grave or pit – a place of destruction.
And while Jesus' body did not undergo decay, it was nevertheless pitted with the sins of humans in His hands, feet, and side.
And just so that no one thinks this may not be the proper understanding of this prophetic message, note how Peter, in Acts 2:27, refers back to this same passage of Scripture after the resurrection:
27. Because Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades,
Nor allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay.
The Greek word used here for decay or corruption is διαφθοράν "dee-af-thor-án", which more specifically refers to physical decomposition.
Yet the wounds in the flesh were still there; for Jesus Himself, after his resurrection, said to Thomas in John 20:27,
27. … "Reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing."
The marks of the moral corruption of humans were upon the absolutely incorruptible body of Jesus.
Jesus, who was not created, but who was formed incarnate in the womb of Mary, was incorruptible; but, nevertheless, able to be wounded by His own creation.
But His creation, which was made perfectly and without any corruption, has become corrupted and is becoming more so each day.
Paul knew this nearly 2000 years ago when he wrote his letter to the Romans, but he also knew that it could be redeemed.
Note what we are told in Romans 8:18-22 –
18. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Do you hear what we are being told?
The glory of our heavenly existence, which is to come, is so wonderful that all of the evils and corruptions of our present time are nothing in comparison to it.
Unfortunately, most people look at this very selfishly, and care nothing about the suffering of the present day creation, and even help make things worse.
Those who continue in their evilness and corruption will never see this glory.
But we who have turned from such things, and wholly given our hearts to God, shall see this glory; and those things which have been scarred by the world's corruption will not be considered of any significance in comparison.
19. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons [children] of God.
And who are these children of God?
They are the loving, compassionate, and peacemaking believers who do everything in their power to brings God's heavenly will to earth as it is in heaven, and eliminate as much worldly suffering, corruption, and death as they can.
20. For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope
21. that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
22. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
Remember that Paul wrote this over 1,900 years ago, and it is still true today.
Let's look a little closer at the meaning of this passage.
The Greek word used here for creation is κτίσις "ktis-is," and it refers to the original creation of God.
The word "creature," found in some translations, is limiting in its meaning,
for the Greek meaning carries with it the whole of God's creation, of which the
creatures, including us, are only a part.
People try to limit it even further, by saying it refers only to humankind; and that is twisting Scripture in order to justify our corrupt behavior.
But God's word clearly says that the whole of creation is suffering and groaning because of our corruption.
All of God's creation was made in a perfect, uncorrupted state.
And by the love of God, humans were given the responsibility to rule over the earth as caretakers.
Note what we were told in Genesis 1:28 –
28. And God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth."
Our problem as humans is that we misuse the word "subdue" which is translated from the Hebrew word "kaw-bahsh," which does mean to use force if necessary, but is used in putting down iniquity.
In other words, in our rule of the earth we have also been given the responsibility to subdue all iniquity.
We were not told to subdue the earth through our own iniquity, which we did and are still doing.
Instead of preventing the earth from becoming corrupted, we corrupted it
ourselves, and caused immense suffering.
And as we discussed earlier, Jesus was also perfect, and He did not undergo corruption or decay; yet He did suffer the wounds of corruption.
Do you remember the Greek word διαφθοράν "dee-af-thor-án" which means physical decomposition and was used in reference to Jesus – that He would not undergo such corruption?
Well, a less intense form of this word, φθοράς "fthor-ás," is used here in this passage from Romans 8, and refers to the condition of creation as being under such a bondage that life is withdrawn, and thus creation groans.
Think of that!
Have we not abused and punctured and wounded God's created world, and the creatures upon it, in just the same way that Jesus was abused and punctured and wounded?
And have we not withdrawn some of the life of the earth?
Every year human beings withdraw the life of tens of billions of farmed animals in the most horrible ways, and what is on most of their plates encourages it to continue.
Today there are many extinct animals and plants that were very much a part of the life of the earth.
They are extinct because we have not listened to God.
They are extinct because we haven't loved God enough to also love His creation.
They are extinct because of the sins of human beings.
And our sins against God's creation are some of the same ones that drove the
nails into the hands and feet of Jesus.
Jesus had His beard plucked out, and we are plucking out the rain forests to make room for cheap cattle that don't do well because of the poor soil conditions.
Jesus had welts and cuts from the whips, and most people whip the surface of the earth so that it can't be properly used again, thus causing more suffering.
The welts and swellings of garbage dumps, even if covered, have been found to still be dangerous, as the people in Albany found out when the gas generated over the last thirty years since its closure blew up their homes, or as the people in Love Canal found out when they were being poisoned.
And the manure and emitted gases of suffering farmed animals are polluting our air, ground, and water.
Christians! Don't you think it’s time we take our responsible position in society and subdue the iniquity that is abusing and wounding our world, just as Jesus was abused and wounded?
It time we end the corruption.
It's time we begin living like the loving, compassionate, and peacemaking children of God we are called to be.
Your Comments are welcome
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