A man with broken arms went to see the doctor.
Man: “Can I play piano after my hands are healed?”
Doctor: “Yes you can”
Man: “Amazing, I couldn’t play piano before”.
Who has ever broken something? Sometimes the bone has to go and be reset. Sometimes it has to even be rebroken. Here’s how God works. You must first be broken in order to be made whole. This sermon…and the content within it is going to be somewhat like resetting a broken bone. It may not be pleasant, but it is necessary for our growth and vitality.
2 Corinthians 4:7-12
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.
We won’t be dwelling on verses 7-9, but we see some of Paul’s heart and resolve in his following of Christ. It’s because Paul shares in Christ’s sufferings that his own are a benefit to others. When you live as one who is unbroken though this world should have broken you, you know what you are doing? You are demonstrating Christ.
Think about Jesus! If anybody was afflicted, crushed, perplexed, driven to despair, persecuted, and struck down, it’s Jesus! It’s the whole reason He came! Listen to what is said about Him 700 years before He came.
3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
Think about this. What’s the worst the world can do to you? Kill you? They can only put you to death. God’s power is able to raise the dead! That’s why Paul is not completely crushed. He knows that when he is crushed, God will bring resurrection.
Here’s what I want to talk about…how do you carry around in the body the death of Jesus? He says that is how the life of Jesus is brought forth and manifested in us. So, what does it mean and what does it look like to carry around in the body the death of Jesus?
We are going to see, hopefully, what it means to die. To die to self. To carry with us the death of Christ. And, hopefully, by the end of this message, you will say, “Pastor Jacob, I want to die.” *haha*
We should carry around the memory of Jesus’ death. We should never forget the death of Jesus. Death is one of those things that you can’t shake. If you’ve seen it, it is etched in your mind forever. But we so often forget the death of Jesus. Remember. Remember what it is that hung Him on that cross. Every single one of your sins. Remember the pain and agony that He endured. Hebrews 6 talks about those people who have claimed Christ and then act and live as if He doesn’t exist and have fallen away from Him, it says they are crucifying Jesus all over again. It is your sin that nailed Him there. Not just all your sins of the past, but the next sin you are going to commit again. Another blow of the hammer onto that nail in His hands. Another spear in His side.
When we remember the death of Jesus, it should cause us to HATE our sin. I remember after my sister died, I went through a phase where I would say to myself, “I HATE SIN.” Because of what Romans 5 says,
Romans 5:12 – Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…
Remembering the death of Jesus shouldn’t just cause us to hate sin in a general way, but it should cause us to hate OUR sin. We should want to crucify it like Christ was crucified! The worst punishment was crucifixion. They had more humane ways to execute people back then. They reserved crucifixion for the worst. They did it to make a statement. It was a bloody spectacle. These criminals were the worst of the worst and everyone should know it! They were putting them to open humiliation and excruciating pain while everyone watched. Listen to what Paul says in some other letters he wrote about how we should treat our sin.
Galatians 5:24 – And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Colossians 3:5 – Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
Hear what J. I. Packer says in these regards about self-denial and crucifying the flesh:
Jesus links self-denial with cross-bearing. Cross-bearing is far more than enduring this or that hardship. Carrying one’s cross in Jesus’ day, as we learn from the story of Jesus’ own crucifixion, was required of those whom society had condemned, whose rights were forfeit, and who were now being led out to their execution. The cross they carried was the instrument of death. Jesus represents discipleship as a matter of following him, and following him as based on taking up one’s cross in self-negation. Carnal self would never consent to cast us in such a role. “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die,” wrote Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer was right: Accepting death to everything that carnal self wants to possess is what Christ’s summons to self-denial was all about.
It was the Puritan John Owen who famously said, “Be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.”
I want you to think about it this way…The same spectacle that was put on for the worst criminals, we should do to our sin. We should HATE it so much that we publicly humiliate it and put it to death in excruciating punishment. Sin isn’t something to sweep under the rug. It is something to crucify! Paul isn’t saying anything other than what Jesus has already said.
Luke 9:23 – If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
Think about Jesus for a second. Who did he attack more than anybody? The religious…the Pharisees…the ones who thought they were without sin but who were really more dead than the others. What did Jesus call those Pharisees?
Matthew 23:27 – “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.
Why did he say this to them? They looked like they had it all together and were living the life God desired, but in reality, they were dead and unclean, just as sinful or more than the others, but it was swept under the rug.
On the other hand, if you want to experience life…freedom from sin…you know what you must do? You must die. You must die to your comforts and worry about what others think. You must die to your desires. If you want to be truly free from sin and experience life, you know what must be a constant in your life? Confession of sin. To other Christians. You know what we don’t do. Confess our sins. We sweep them under the rug. If we want to experience life, we must crucify our flesh…make an open mockery of it. It’s dirty. It’s vulnerable. It leads to life. On the contrary, we can act like we have it all together. We can sweep it under the rug…but inside we will be rotting…
(story of daughter spilling milk under a rug)
1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Would you rather be dirty on the outside and alive on the inside or clean on the outside and dead on the inside? That’s a hard question to answer, because our flesh is crying out in opposition.
I love this that I read in preparation for this message, talking about what this passage means and taking up our cross:
Our cross is not that cantankerous person we have to deal with day by day. Our cross is not the employer we just can’t get along with. Our cross is not that neighbor or work colleague who cuts across the grain in every single time of relationship.
Nor is our cross the difficulties and infirmities that the flow of life brings to us beyond our control. Our cross is the point of our unlikeness to the image of Christ, where we must die to self in order to be raised by God into wholeness of life in the image of Christ right there at that point.
So, in order to have life, we must first die. And that’s what Paul is saying in our passage:
10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.
But, if we remember the death of Jesus, also, we must remember the resurrection of Jesus. He doesn’t just mention death and dying. As often as he does, he also mentions life. Remembering the death of Jesus should causes us to repent. Remembering the resurrection causes us to be transformed.
In order to experience the life of Jesus, you must first die. Like Jesus, you must first be broken in order to then bring forth life.
John 12:24-25 – 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
Broken things in the Bible and the results achieved by them:
1) An Alabaster Jar (Mark 14:3) and the ointment was poured out and beautiful to Jesus
2) Broken Bread (Matt 14:10) and the hungry were miraculously fed, giving glory to Jesus
3) A Broken Body (I Cor 11:24) and salvation was freely offered to the world
4) A Broken will (Ps 51:17) and a life of fulfillment in Christ
If you want to experience life, you must first be broken. You must die. You must die to your sin. You must die to your desires. You must die to your comforts. You must die to your disbelief.
I know there are some in here who are walking in disbelief. You don’t believe these things about Jesus. Or maybe you are considering them but you haven’t made a decision to follow Him. Let me tell you, to not make a decision is to make a decision. If you say you will later, and you don’t make that decision right here and right now, you may never get another chance, and your decision has already been made. Jesus says now is the time of salvation.
If you are in disbelief, let me tell you the truth. Not a single scholar, atheist or Christian disbelieves that Jesus actually existed. They may disagree on who He was. But there is so much proof outside of the Bible that Jesus existed that nobody denies it. You know what else nobody denies? That He died. It is a historically verified fact, from Christian and non-Christian sources that Jesus was crucified. So, if you’re in here this morning and you don’t believe that Jesus existed and that He died, you are in disagreement with Christian and atheist scholars about this. It is even confirmed by non-Christian sources that at least Jesus’ disciples claimed He rose from the dead. That’s where they differ. At the point of belief. At the point of trust. At the point of salvation. There is no good explanation as to how every single disciple died for their faith that Jesus rose from the dead. There is no good explanation as to how and why the tomb remains empty to this day and the Roman officials actually gave an excuse as to how and why the tomb was empty instead of showing where Jesus’ body was…because it wasn’t there! There is no good excuse as to how it is documented that Jesus appeared fully alive to over 500 people at different times and in different places before He ascended into heaven. There is not a single good excuse to any of these historically documented facts other than this…Jesus really rose from the dead! Jesus really is the Savior of all who place their faith in Him. Jesus really died and really rose, and any person who would die to themselves and their sin and place their faith in the risen Jesus will have life also! That’s the truth! He is the truth! He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me!” That means you! You cannot get to heaven unless you go through Jesus. He is the door. And He is open and available for you. Right now. Now is the time of salvation. Will you, right now, take up your cross and follow Him? Will you, right now, rededicate your life to taking up your cross daily and following Him? Will you die to yourself right now, and for the first time truly live?
 J. I. Packer, Hot Tub Religion, (Living Books, Tyndale House Publ., Inc., Wheaton: 1987), pp. 72-73
 Taken from: Invitation to a Journey: A Road Map for Spiritual Formation by M. Robert Mulholland and Ruth Haley Barton. Copyright (c) 2016 by M. Robert Mulholland and Ruth Haley Barton. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com