September 14, 2008 - Holy Cross Day

Today's Reading: John 12:20-33

Daily Lectionary: 2 Chronicles 33:1-25; Colossians 1:24-2:7

"Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself." (John 20:31-32)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Jesus died on a cross. As Christians, we see the cross as a sign of Jesus' triumph over sin and death. But stop to think—the cross was a means of torture and execution. Imagine the symbol of our salvation being a rope noose or and electric chair! But what was used as way of inflicting pain and agony and killing criminals, was used by our Lord to destroy the power of Satan and death and to win forgiveness of sins for us.

Jesus casts out the Ruler of this world, the Devil, by Himself being cast out of the city. Jesus defeats the power of death by dying. Jesus draws people to Himself with the Good News of His cross, by dying in a way that sickened and repulsed the people who saw it. Our Lord crushes the head of the Great Serpent by getting His heel bruised and pierced with nails. He cries out for forgiveness for the very men that put Him there. He hangs naked in shame so that the shame of our sinful nakedness would be covered up. Christ dies and we have life. Christ suffers so that we will not suffer for our sins. Christ overcomes all that is evil by letting Himself be subjected to all that is evil. Christ becomes what we were so that we will become as He is, alive and righteous.

The cross itself has become a new Tree of Life. God threw Adam and Eve out of the Garden so that they could not eat from the Tree of Life. If they did, they would live forever as sinners. When Jesus died on the cross, He made that tree a new Tree of Life. Instead of a fruit that causes death, the fruit of the cross is the blood and water from the side of God's Son. That's water which cleanses us from our sins. That's blood that feeds us and gives us life.

All that Man is, all that Man has done, all that he has ruined, all that he has wrecked—all of that is put right and made right again and made new by the Lamb of God who was sacrificed on the cross for you. Give thanks for the cross because Jesus used that evil thing to accomplish the best and most wonderful good for you. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Lamb of God, pure and holy, Who on the cross didst suffer, Ever patient and lowly, Thyself to scorn didst offer. All sins Thou bearest for us, Else had despair reigned o'er us: Have mercy on us, O Jesus! O Jesus! (LSB 434:1)