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Jesus' cross set us free from “the person we used to be”

March 29, 2024

Daily Scripture

Romans 6:6-11, 16-18

6 This is what we know: the person that we used to be was crucified with him in order to get rid of the corpse that had been controlled by sin. That way we wouldn’t be slaves to sin anymore, 7 because a person who has died has been freed from sin’s power. 8 But if we died with Christ, we have faith that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ has been raised from the dead and he will never die again. Death no longer has power over him. 10 He died to sin once and for all with his death, but he lives for God with his life. 11 In the same way, you also should consider yourselves dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus.

16 Don’t you know that if you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, that you are slaves of the one whom you obey? That’s true whether you serve as slaves of sin, which leads to death, or as slaves of the kind of obedience that leads to righteousness. 17 But thank God that although you used to be slaves of sin, you gave wholehearted obedience to the teaching that was handed down to you, which provides a pattern. 18 Now that you have been set free from sin, you have become slaves of righteousness.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

The apostle Paul used two vivid images to express how Jesus’ death affects the way we live. Jesus died, he said, so “we wouldn’t be slaves to sin anymore.” That sounds good. But then he didn’t say we are free to do whatever we want, but that “you are [always] slaves of the one whom you obey,” so we became “slaves of righteousness.” Then to give us more to think about, he used a bookkeeping image, urging believers to “consider yourselves dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus.”

  • Paul “contrasts life without Christ as slavery to sin with life in Christ as slavery to God and righteousness…. In this new life, the master sin is replaced by the master righteousness (6:18).” * But Paul did not mean exchanging one miserable, harmful slavery for another. “Slavery to sin leads to death; slavery to God leads to righteousness and life.” ** How is choosing Jesus as your “master” life-giving, as opposed to serving the destructive, death-dealing ways of “sin”?
  • In verse 11, Paul switched metaphors, saying “consider yourselves dead to sin but alive for God.” “The word he uses [for ‘consider’] is a word used in bookkeeping… in working out profit and loss figures…. all the calculation does is to make you aware of what in fact was true all along…. We need to remember who we really are, so that we can act accordingly.” *** How can remembering that you are “alive for God in Christ Jesus” help you when you stumble in your spiritual journey?

Lord Jesus, thank you for dying for me so that I can be set free from slavery to all that needs to die in me. I choose you to be my loving, life-giving master. Amen.

GPS Insights

Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe serves as a Couples Small Group co-leader & Men's Group Leader, while volunteering in a variety of other capacities at Resurrection. He and his wife, Doris, first met in a Resurrection Single Adult Sunday School class in 1997 and were married in what is now the Student Center. They are empty nesters with 2 college-aged sons, Matthew and Jacob.

I typically review the Biblical scenes related to the events of Good Friday each Holy Week. With all the hubbub about the coming eclipse on April 8, this season I was intrigued by three of the gospels saying darkness came over the land from noon until three in the afternoon when Jesus died. Let’s take a closer look:

First off, a few definitions are in order:

  • A Solar Eclipse is when the moon passes between the earth & sun
  • A Lunar Eclipse is when the earth blocks the moon
  • An Apocalypse is if I forget to turn off my alarm again when I go to my 6:00 a.m. Men’s Bible Study

Imagine if we were there in Jerusalem & the sky turned dark starting at noon. This would have been incredibly unsettling. Cultures through the centuries were incredibly fearful of darkness & scared that the sun would cease to shine. (For example, the Aztecs would offer human sacrifices to appease the sun god to ensure the sun remained in place.) Before we mock this superstitious thinking, I would remind us that a 2.5-hour Facebook outage on March 25 left the online communities shaken for several days.

Aside: Son: Dad, can you explain to me what a solar eclipse is? Father: No sun.

While we might think 3 hours isn’t that big a deal, I would disagree. When the sun darkened at noon, you had no idea if the sun would shine again. Think of a flight delay: The 1st hour is mildly irritating. Hour 2 you become a tad uneasy, because you have no assurance when you can board the plane. The uncertainty would add to our anxiety.

Aside: During the eclipse in August 2017, some teachers were reluctant to let their students go outside to witness the eclipse.  They wanted to protect their pupils.

So, was this event a solar eclipse, or perhaps a poetic description of the light of Christ departing the earth, or a supernatural occurrence?

  • An eclipse usually takes place during a new moon, but the Passover is based on the lunar calendar. This means it would be during a full moon. Interestingly, some historic records do suggest a partial lunar eclipse occurred on April 3, 33 A.D.; however, the timing wouldn’t sync up with the afternoon. Also, the longest known eclipse lasted only 7 minutes & 33 seconds. So, the natural event of an eclipse would seem to be an inadequate explanation.
  • Luke was very careful about documenting the events of Jesus’ ministry, so it would seem out of character for him to stretch the facts or use dramatic language to describe the afternoon of Jesus’ death on the cross. Recording just the bare essentials of that grim day wouldn’t need any sensationalistic embellishment & there would be plenty of eyewitnesses to dispute his account.
  • I would submit that a miraculous or supernatural event of some kind occurred that afternoon. It doesn’t seem too surprising that a God who had the heavens proclaim His Son’s birth would incorporate all sorts of natural phenomena like the skies darkening & the earth quaking to memorialize His Son’s sacrifice on behalf of all humanity.

So, what might this all mean for us today?

  • There is nothing better than starting the day with the sun. Likewise, a day that starts with the Son is always better.
  • The sun rejuvenates life in all of God’s creation. The Son is also the source of the good life in all of God’s creation.
  • When the sun is at its peak, there are no shadows. Similarly, when we lift the Son on high, the shadow of evil will hold no power over us.
  • Simply knowing the sun will be there after a stormy night is amazingly reassuring. Knowing the Son will be our constant companion during our times of darkness is wonderfully comforting.
  • Man-made artificial light can’t compete with the power & the health benefits of the sun. Man-made gods or idols can’t compete with the power & the benefits of a life with the Son.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m looking to purchase tickets for an eclipse event in Terre Haute, Indiana. It’s called, “A Total Eclipse of the Haute.”  (Apologies to Bonnie Tyler & her 1983 hit song, “A Total Eclipse of the Heart” – Editor.)

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Michael J. Gorman, study note on Romans 6:1-7:6 in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 285 NT.
** Michael J. Gorman, study note on Romans 6:15-21 in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 286 NT.
*** Wright, N. T., Paul for Everyone: Romans, Part One: Chapters 1-8 (The New Testament for Everyone) (pp. 102-103). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.