Today’s Reading: John 12:20-33
“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.” (John 12:20-33)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Not many people wear jewelry depicting a needle or the electric chair. I don’t see many gold noose necklaces proudly displayed dangling from a chain on someone’s chest. Maybe I hang out with the wrong crowd, but I don’t see many guillotine charm bracelets adorning wrists. These are all instruments of death, means that have been used throughout history to carry out the death penalty. I do, however, see crosses on necklaces, bracelets, earrings, on clothing or tattoos. Maybe I am hanging out with the wrong crowd.
The cross was the chosen instrument and means of death in carrying out the death penalty for the Romans. It wasn’t a humane way to die. In fact, it was designed to maximize the pain and agony of the one being crucified. But if this is one of the most gruesome, painful, and agonizing ways to die in all of human history, why do we wear it with pride and adorn ourselves with it?
Maybe it’s because the Cross is more than a symbol of death. Or maybe it’s because the death that happened there to Jesus wasn’t just the end of someone’s life. Maybe it’s because it was there on the Cross that the grain of wheat, the seed and source of life, fell into the earth and died so that it might bear much fruit. Maybe it’s because that instrument of death is a true sign of triumph that life conquers death, that Christ rises from the dead, that the fruit of that Tree is the forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and salvation. Maybe it’s because the Cross is the symbol of the world’s redemption from sin and death.
Maybe it’s all of that. We lift high the cross, parade it around in churches and on our bodies in gold and jewels, because it is from that Cross of Christ, from the body and life that is given then, from the blood of God which is shed there, that we do not remain alone but are united with God and all the faithful who wish to see Jesus in life everlasting. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Faithful cross, true sign of triumph, Be for all the noblest tree; None in foliage, none in blossom, None in fruit thine equal be; Symbol of the world’s redemption, For the weight that hung on thee! (“Sing, My Tongue, the Glorious Battle” LSB 454, st.4)
-Rev. Brett Simek is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Hilbert, WI. He also serves as catechesis coordinator for Higher Things.
Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch
Study Christ’s words on the cross to see how you can show more Christlike grace in your life. Perfect for group or individual study, each chapter has a Q&A at the end, and the back of the book includes a leader guide. Available now from Concordia Publishing House.