Meanings of the Cross

Lent & Easter Sermon Series: Meanings of the Cross

Ash Wednesday, March 1
Sundays, March 5 – April 16

Meanings of the Cross. Christians generally agree that the Cross is central to our faith, but a surprising number of different interpretations of the exact meaning of the Cross are possible from Scripture and have been articulated in Christian tradition. This series considers six different major understandings of the meaning of the Cross. Each will be treated respectfully as offering one important possible angle of vision on the inexhaustible meanings of the Cross.


March 5

Rev. Dr. David Gushee
Interim Pastor, First Baptist Church Decatur
Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and Director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at the Mercer University McAfee School of Theology

Sermon
"The Cross as Atoning Sacrifice"

Romans 3:21-26

“But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
—Romans 3:21-23

Green button links to a printable version (pdf) of this week's sermon.


March 12

Rev. Dr. David Gushee
Interim Pastor, First Baptist Church Decatur
Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and Director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at the Mercer University McAfee School of Theology

Sermon
"The Cross as Peacemaking"

Ephesians 2:11-22

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us."
—Ephesians 2:13-14

Green button links to a printable version (pdf) of this week's sermon.


March 19

Rev. Dr. David Gushee
Interim Pastor, First Baptist Church Decatur
Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and Director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at the Mercer University McAfee School of Theology

Sermon
"The Cross Moral Example and Invitation"

1 John 4:7-11

“In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another."
—1 John 4:10-11

Green button links to a printable version (pdf) of this week's sermon.


March 26

Rev. Dr. David Gushee
Interim Pastor, First Baptist Church Decatur
Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and Director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at the Mercer University McAfee School of Theology

Sermon
"The Cross as Miscarriage of Justice"

Matthew 27:15-26

"When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood,’ he said. ‘It is your responsibility!’ All the people answered, ‘His blood is on us and on our children!’ Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified." — Matthew 27:24-26

Green button links to a printable version (pdf) of this week's sermon.


April 2

Rev. Dr. David Gushee
Interim Pastor, First Baptist Church Decatur
Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and Director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at the Mercer University McAfee School of Theology

Sermon
"The Cross as Self-Emptying Love"

Philippians 2:5-11

"Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
    did not regard equality with God
    as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
    taking the form of a slave,
    being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
    he humbled himself
    and became obedient to the point of death—
    even death on a cross." — Philippians 2:5-8

Green button links to a printable version (pdf) of this week's sermon.


Palm Sunday, April 9

Guest preacher
Dr. Jeff Willetts
Dean of Mercer University McAfee School of Theology

Sermon
"Public Facts and/or Living Faith"

Psalm 118:1-2,  19-29; Mark 11:1-11

"Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,
‘Hosanna!
    Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
    Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!’”
— Mark 11:7-10


April 16, Easter Sunday

Rev. Dr. David Gushee
Interim Pastor, First Baptist Church Decatur
Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and Director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at the Mercer University McAfee School of Theology

Sermon
"The Cross as Site of God
's Victory"
Colossians 2:8-15; John 20:19-29.

"A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’

Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’” — John 20:26-29

Green button links to a printable version (pdf) of this week's sermon.