Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for March 24th, 2015

“A God without wrath brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.

― H. Richard Niebuhr

Jesus prophesies His suffering, crucifixion and Resurrection three times.  In The Gospel According to St. Mark, the three prophecies begin at 8:31, 9:31 and 10: 34, almost exactly a chapter apart.  This is noteworthy because the addition of chapters and verses was well after the completion of  the Scriptures.  The three prophecies are like the tolling of the death knell.  They are yet another pointer to the utter centrality of the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ in the Bible.  The Cross of Christ as symbol and the proclamation of “Christ and Him crucified” ( 1 Corinthians 1:23 ) with the Church Year is centered on Holy Week and Easter (or Pascha). This clearly reflects the Word of God, the Bible.  We see, though, so many times, beginning in the narrative of  the Scripture, flights from the crucifixion:

  • This Gospel reading for the 5th Sunday in Lent (Year B) includes the third Passion prophecy and immediately after that James and John request Jesus that they sit on His right and left hands in glory. It was as if they had not heard the prophecy of the crucifixion at all.
  • Earlier, after Peter confesses that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus proclaims His first Passion prophecy, and Peter says basically, God forbid and Jesus calls Peter Satan for tempting Him away from Golgotha.(Matthew 16:22-24)
  • The Apostle Paul wrote to the spiritual Corinthians, who were thinking they were standing so tall as the saved that sins involving their bodies could not affect them, they forgot crucial preaching of the Crucified by which the Holy Spirit made faith in them, 1 Corinthians 2:  “ And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.       

We see all around us in our time both explicit and implicit flights from the Crucifixion:

  • Many denominations do not observe Holy Week or only in part.  Near Holy Week,several years back a devout Baptist told me that he loves the preaching of Christ in his church but he could not figure how they could just ignore Good Friday.
  • Many Lutherans, and other Christians skip on Good Friday and hasten to the sweet smelling lilies of Easter Sunday.
  • Too many Lutherans and many Protestants disdain the sign of a crucifex in a sanctuary as “too Catholic”.  Too many for that same reason do not make the sign of the Cross. We preach the Crucified, we are baptized into His death and resurrection, the four Gospels are all about His death and resurrection, then the Crucifixion is “too catholic”?!  Yes, it is! Amen!  The word, “Catholic” and its origin is Greek: “kata holos”, that is, according to the whole…the whole of salvation history, that is, “universal”: again, Amen!
  • When I see photos or videos of or from mega-churches, there is no cross in sight, let alone a crucifix.  Furthermore, there is no Altar and no Scriptural literalism, which is the foundation of His Presence, “This is My Body”, “This is My Blood” (see 1 Corinthians 11: 23-26), for the Supper on an Altar that is not there to begin with!   The Scriptures are clear about the Lord’s Supper, “For as often as you eat of this bread and drink of this cup you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes”. The Divine Service proclaims the death of Jesus for our salvation. They practice the divine absence.
  • But all of the above pales in comparison to what is preached, literally, “what”, not “Who” is preached.  Morals are preached. “Your best life now” with Jesus as a kind of positive thinking coach is the lecture.  The Christian is put back on to himself, not pointed to the Lord.  They preach the Christian, not the Christ.  

Holy Week is about proclaiming, preaching and teaching Christ.  Attend the Church which proclaims Jesus as Lord, in which the Sacraments are administered according to the Gospel, and there are a people who know they are sinners saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and that faith is “not their doing”,and neither are their good works, see Ephesians 2: 4-10.  Don’t flee the crucified and risen Lord, but flee for refuge to His infinite mercy to the Lord’s Church.

“For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 2: 17

“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” 2 Corinthians 4: 5

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: