Posts Tagged ‘Crucifixion and Resurrection’

Note that the text from Numbers 21:4–9, about the bronze serpent, cited by Jesus, is in the right hand panel of Lucas Cranach’s painting, Law and Promise. Jesus has fulfilled this type of the Christ.

14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

 The dog is sick and the boss is a pain. Just had car problems and late for work.  Your husband or wife seems to be on another planet.  Life has not turned out according to expectations.  The children are leaving home in more ways than physically.  The professor is loading on more work and didn’t like your last paper.  The last trip to the doctor was frightening.  Internet is down and so are you. It is one of those days.  One of those days and you need a lift.  Ever have one of those days, when you just need a lift?  We all have those days and there will be others.  There are many promises for a lift from bourbon to religion to food to the latest spirituality fad.  All of those “days” makes one  focus hard…hard on ourselves.  The Old Adam’s egocentricity hunkers down inside the dark cave of heart and soul and seeks there some sort of lift.  But there is no light in a cave especially in the ‘man cave’ of the Old Adam.  At best it will seem like light but it will be illusory light of idolatry, a phantasm.  As much as many are afraid of the dark, yet spiritually love the dark. “…and people loved the darkness” As Jesus said people do not want their deeds be exposed. In government and politics this need for light in the darkness of the political processes comes under the rubric of “transparency”.  As much as politicians of all persuasions extol “transparency”, unless it is enforced by the rigid rules, it won’t happen.  Dealings under the table, in the secrecy of e-mails, in hushed corners of the capitol…in families, work places, on the street, in college hall ways. Luther on this text:

“When I study God’s Word, I find that Christ not only has the form of a serpent without venom;  but I also feel a power in Him which will cure me of venom…Even a cow could stare at the serpent—but how could that help her?…It was not an angel, a principality, or any of the world’s mighty who became incarnate and died for us—no, both the angelic and the human nature would have been too weak—but it was the divine nature that assumed humanity. It was Christ who adopted our flesh and blood that we might be saved through Him.”

Do not look into yourselves, your spiritualities, your religious feelings, your felt belief, for salvation. Sinners ruined by the fall should not look to the fall and their fallenness, but to Jesus Christ and He draws you forth to Himself in a love that endures and is stronger than even death. As He was lifted up so He lifts us up in the Word preached, taught and administered in His Sacramental life of His church, His very Body.  There is no death now in Jesus Christ, so we may believe into Him, our lives hid Him, not hiding evil, His charity drawing forth the man and woman in Christ to so love.   It, evil has been confessed, as did the people of Israel confess, “We have sinned against Moses and the Lord…” Yes, the saying is true and worthy of full acceptance:  confession is good for the soul for the Lord draws forth the venom in His charity healing the heart of man.  Jesus is the antidote.  And they prayed for the intercession of Moses for their lives, so if the prayer of the Lawgiver prevailed, now much more the Lord of the lawgiver prevails for you and for me! Jesus lifted up upon the Cross is the lift… the lifting off of our shoulders, our hearts, souls and minds, the darkness of the world which so easily envelopes the man caves of the Old Adam. The world is God’s good creation now minus faith and love.   Man seeks to be like god, powerful, but not powerful to love rightly, but always the tendency to love wrongly.  Into this world, the dark planet, the light has shined.  It is the light of God’s pure love in His Son Jesus.  Not that God loved the world, but so loved the world, He gave His only begotten-Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish have eternal life. It wasn’t a cosmic Teddy Bear that the Lord loved, but this world bent in upon itself.  I think John 3: 16, as Luther said is the Gospel in a nutshell, but it has to cited with John 3:15:  The Cross, His Crucifixion, otherwise we do not know where and when His love of the world, so loved,was  poured forth. He draws forth the prisoner from the darkness to faith and love.  Faith in the Lord is so that we love aright.  Faith, then love and always is in that order.  If it is love, then faith, there isn’t a chance for salvation.  Only by grace you have been saved through faith…alone. “This is not your own doing;  it is the gift of God”. Christmas was not one of the those days, but our re-birthday as Christ was born.  Good Friday was not one of those days, but all our days wrapped up together in that one day.  Easter was not one of those days, it is the day of resurrection and our hope in Christ Jesus for the day that will also not be one of those days:  the day of resurrection of the dead.

The preposition in the phrase from today’s Gospel, “whoever believes IN Him”, has the force of “into”.  The one believing into Him have eternal life.  He draws forth this total enjoyment and commitment of faith.  And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself, as the Lord said later. Faith based not upon my FELT belief, but upon the Cross and his sacrifice upon the Cross:  lifted up, for all to see. Jesus upon the Cross is the sign of the unmistakable love of the Father for the world.  As unmistakable as when Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness.  It is not the cross which heals but the One upon. Israel saved that bronze serpent and it became a place of sacrifice to a false god that King Hezekiah rightly destroyed.  No, “the rugged cross”, but the preaching of Christ Jesus and Him crucified for us. Those who have been shown their spiritual death in their darkness, as the Israelites, had to make no decision for Jesus.  It was look or die. It was trust and live. It was a “no-brainer”. If you have a snake bite, you need someone to suck out the poison, the venom.  Jesus has.

But people do have a deadly choice:  keep their works in the dark because those works are evil, not wrought in Jesus Christ, the light of the world. Bitten by the lusts and hatreds of this world in the flesh in the power of the devil: not into Jesus Christ, but into themselves.  Why is it so important to believe into the Name of the only begotten Son of God?  Because in Him there is the absolute of our absolution, our forgiveness, His grace, mercy and peace for us all:  eternal life unto the resurrection unto eternal life. His life is as hard and enduring and more so than even the nails driven into His hands.  So the sinner may gaze upon Him and His Cross, as did the people of Israel at the serpent, and live: You are forgiven. 

Crosses are ugly and none uglier than the one upon which the beloved and only begotten Son was nailed.  Today’s Gospel is part of our Lord’s conversation with Nicodemus about being born from above, born from above in water the Spirit, that is, baptism.  The Holy Spirit blows not of His own accord apart from the Word, and the Word made flesh. It is at the Cross and through the tomb the Holy Spirit witnesses, teaches and extols Jesus the Christ. Looking upon Christ Jesus in His Word and Sacraments is not a one shot deal, His crucified and risen life is our daily baptism.  And if a metal snake on a pole, with God’s promise attached to it could so draw forth their sin so that they may live, how much more the Son of God upon the Cross, His blood from the thorns blinding His eyes, thirsting and thirsting for you,  can draw forth the sinner to His arms of everlasting mercy!

Come to Calvary’s holy mountain, Sinners, ruined by the fall; Here a pure and healing fountain Flows for you, for me, for all, In a full perpetual tide, Opened when our Savior died.

So many times in the Psalms is the imperative, “Lift up”.  Like beginning of Psalm 131 I lift up my eyes to the hills.     From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord,     who made heaven and earth. Lift up is part of the Divine Service.  Sursum corda.  Habemus ad Dominum.  Translated, Lift up your hearts, We lift them up to the Lord.  Literally translated:  Hearts lifted!  We have to the Lord.  In David’s Psalm, after he committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband,Uriah, killed, prayed:  a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.   Sursum corda!  These hearts, our lives.  It is not finally about “Its been one of those days” but its this one heart and the one Lord who sees our distress and knows it.  Dead in trespasses and wrathful, Christ died for the life of the world by His life in the world.  The Lord is our lifting up.   Even our good deeds are not wrought in us, but in Christ, wrought in God, that He has prepare beforehand to be our way of life, so that we are pious and God-fearing, loving the Lord and serving our neighbor in His love.  Baptism is our daily walk, as the Scriptures are our prayer. Looking upon Christ Jesus in His Word and Sacraments is not a one shot deal:  His crucified and risen life is our daily baptism. Sursum corda.  In the Name of the Father, and of the +Son and of the Holy Ghost. The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding, guards your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.    

Read Full Post »

Tuesday in Holy Week


Almighty and everlasting God, grant us by Your grace so to pass through this holy time of our Lord’s passion that we may obtain the forgiveness of our sins; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.


Isaiah 49:1-7

Psalm 71:1-14 (antiphon: v. 12)

1 Corinthians 1:18-25 (26-31)

Mark 14:1-15:47                                                                                                                                                                          or John12:23-50

Verse:  The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.

Cross Reflections:

Graham Green’s comic novel, Monsignor Quixote takes place in Spain under the brutal dictatorship of Francisco Franco and is about a Roman Catholic priest Monsignor Quixote.  Yes, his name is the same as the great fictional character.  Fr. Quixote lives and serves in a sleepy town who’s Mayor is an ardent Communist and the Father’s best friend.  Father, not known for ambition, is made a Monsignor and this sets off a chain of events that brings together the new Monsignor and his Communist friend in a series of adventures in the Father’s old car Roncinante.  In this scene the Father and the Mayor have fallen asleep, but Monsignor Quixote wakes up from a bad dream:

He had dreamt that Christ had been saved from the Cross by the legion of angels to which on an earlier occasion the Devil had told Him that He could appeal. So there was no final agony, no heavy stone which had to be rolled away, no discovery of an empty tomb. Father Quixote stood there watching on Golgotha as Christ stepped down from the Cross triumphant and acclaimed. The Roman soldiers, even the Centurion, knelt in His honor, and the people of Jerusalem poured up the hill to worship Him. The disciples clustered happily around. His mother smiled through her tears of joy. There was no ambiguity, no room for doubt and no room for faith at all. The whole world knew with certainty that Christ was the Son of God.

It was only a dream, of course it was only a dream, but nonetheless Father Quixote had felt on waking the chill of despair felt by a man who realizes suddenly that he has taken up a profession which is of use to no one, who must continue to live in a kind of Saharan desert without doubt or faith, where everyone is certain that the same belief is true. He had found himself whispering, “God save me from such a belief.” Then he heard the Mayor turn restlessly on the bed beside him, and he added without thought, “Save him too from belief,” and only then he fell asleep again.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: