Crosses

The cross of Christ changed the world.
As a gruesome but efficient means of execution, the Roman cross was well known before the time of Jesus. His cross was no different than those of the two thieves beside Him on Golgotha. The wooden spars that formed His cross are lost to history, burned as someone’s trash fire, no doubt.

The meaning of that cross has changed nations, one citizen at a time. This was more than an execution; it was a transformation. This thing of imminent death became the symbol of life everlasting. This implement of destruction became a tool of restoration.

On His cross Jesus conquered death by dying for our sins. He banished sickness by the means of injury—the Roman whip that slashed His back. He rebuked pride with a Crown of Thorns. He routed hate with His perfect love. He disarmed violence with His innocence and He frightened fear away with perfect peace. He ruined sin with His willing obedience.

No wonder we sing about His cross to this day.
It is clear why the writers of the New Testament made His Cross their story. It should not surprise us that the world tries another transformation, seeking to rob the Cross of its true power and make it jewelry and ornament for our vanity.

But the truth is still told everywhere. The Cross of Christ changes everything.

Another Cross
Jesus spoke of another cross, not the Cross of the Redeemer, but the cross of the believer. Jesus carried His cross once and for all. The believer must take up his/her cross every day. Following Jesus we must deny ourselves, delay our demands for gratification, and prioritize the work God has for us to do.

We will see the transformation.
Work becomes worship. Play becomes praise. Repose becomes Sabbath Rest. Life brims with abundance. We are rich because He was made poor. We are healed because He was wounded. We are delivered because He has overcome. We are safe because He defeated our foes. This daily cross we carry is not a thing of death but it is an instrument of life.

The Cross of Christ changes everything.

Scriptures:
Psalm 22
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent. … All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: “He trusts in the Lord; let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.” Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother’s breast. From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God. Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help. Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing. … From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows. The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the Lord will praise him — may your hearts live forever! All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations… Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn — for he has done it.
Luke 9:23-25 NIV
Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.
John 19:17-18
Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). Here they crucified him, and with him two others — one on each side and Jesus in the middle.
Colossians 2:13-15 NIV
He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Galatians 6:14-15
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Prayer:
The General Thanksgiving
The Book of Common Prayer
Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we Your unworthy servants give You humble thanks for all your goodness and loving‑kindness to us and to all whom you have made. We bless You for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for Your immeasurable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we pray, give us such an awareness of Your mercies, That with truly thankful hearts we may show forth Your praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up ourselves to Your service, and by walking before you in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with You and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.

Song:
The Old Rugged Cross
Words and Music: George Bennard

1. On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
the emblem of suffering and shame;
and I love that old cross where the dearest and best
for a world of lost sinners was slain.

Refrain:
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
and exchange it some day for a crown

2. O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
has a wondrous attraction for me;
for the dear Lamb of God left his glory above
to bear it to dark Calvary.

Refrain

3. In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
a wondrous beauty I see,
for ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
to pardon and sanctify me.

Refrain

4. To that old rugged cross I will ever be true,
its shame and reproach gladly bear;
then he’ll call me some day to my home far away,
where his glory forever I’ll share.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

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