Embracing the Cross – A Devotion for Holy Cross Day
Devotional Thought fo the Day
27 The people in Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognize Jesus as the one the prophets had spoken about. Instead, they condemned him, and in doing this they fulfilled the prophets’ words that are read every Sabbath. Acts 13:27–28 NLT
My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20 (NLT)
In the third place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when the Gospel is preached first and then the Law; sanctification first and then justification; faith first and then repentance; good works first and then grace.
For the early Christians, the Cross was primarily a sign of hope—not so much a turning back to the past as a turning forward to the coming of the Lord
Today is called in church calendars “Holy Cross Day” or Feast of the Holy Cross.
It is a day to think about the cross, and what was secured by the cross. The redemption of the world. My favorite sermon I’ve ever crafted is “The Parable of the Coke Can” – where life is pictured draining us, and sin crushing us, tossing us aside. But then Christ comes along, and finds us, and seeing a value marred and hidden by sin, creates us to be something new. He repurposes us, He redeems us, He restores us. And what was torn aside, a broken container, is now a living chalice that God fills with His Spirit.
It is there in the cross that we are redeemed, where we are separated from the sin that had trapped us. It was there at the cross that we also are united to Christ, to not just his death but His resurrection.
These are things the prophets foretold when they spoke about Jesus being condemned on every page, for the condemnation is the promise of the Old Covenant, the old promises that God made to man. We have to see that painful, ugly horrid cross, and know that is our cross as well. A cross where sin will be removed, probably painfully, as we struggle with it. A cross that is brutal, it leaves no sin covered, it strips them from us, even as the flesh was stripped from Christ’s back.
The Law crushes us to that cross, even as the gospel there gives us the promise of life. No, not even as the gospel gives. It crushes us there so that the Gospel can give us life.
The last thought, the one in green from Pope Benedict XVI is that which I want to leave you with this morning. That the cross was not seen as something to look back upon constantly for the early church. It was what caused them to be able to look forward, to look at each day as something the Lord created, to look forward to the day when He will return for those He rescued there at the cross. The cross in the past is what gives us the hope, the expectation of glory (Col. 1) and that God has prepared something greater than anything we’ve experienced or dreamed about. (1 Cor 2.9)
There is a saying in the church, an old call and response so appropriate to end this post with,
Call – “We praise You, O Christ.”
Response – “For by Your cross You have redeemed the world!”
Walther, C. F. W., Dau, W. H. T., & Eckhardt, E. (2000). The proper distinction between law and gospel: 39 evening lectures (electronic ed., p. 2). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.
Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans., I. Grassl, Ed.) (p. 294). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.