The cross. Almost every Sunday we sing about the cross. We have crosses in our church building, and we have a cross outside our building. How many of you are wearing a cross around your neck?
The cross is very common.
My task this coming Sunday is to talk about the cross.
Once each month we remember the cross when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. Then each year we focus on the cross on Good Friday. That was just two months ago. Have we heard about the cross too much? Has it gotten to the point where a sermon about the cross seems so mundane that we won’t be able to hear about the cross yet again?
What can we say about Jesus’ crucifixion this Sunday? More than likely it has already been said. Probably many times over.
I’m concerned, in a sermon like this, that the subject matter is so familiar that it will be easy to tune out. You’ve heard about it so much!
I’m trying to think of something shocking to say, just so you will pay attention. But it has already been said.
You will have to choose to pay attention because you decide that it is important.
Is it important? The obvious answer is “Yes! Of course it is important.” But why? What makes the cross the important? If you had to answer that question on an essay exam right here, right now, what would you say? In fact, go for it. Imagine that you are in an exam, and in the comment section below write your answer to the question: Why is the cross important?
Here’s a clue: the crosses inside and outside Faith Church are very, very nice-looking. The one inside our sanctuary is painted with gold-colored flecks so it shines if you look at it up close. And is back-lit, so it glows. Then there is the bright brass cross that we place on the communion table. Also each communion table cover has gold embroidered crosses. Very decorative. Outside the church, we have another darker-colored cross.
The clue is that none of these crosses look anything like the actual cross on which they crucified Jesus. What did that cross look like? Without any pictures of it, of course we don’t know, but we have a pretty good idea that it wasn’t gold-colored, bronze, shiny or back-lit. Think about the cross that you are wearing around your neck. Jesus’ cross wasn’t gold or clean like yours.
What do you think Jesus’ cross looked like? Think about what took place on that cross. This is why I think that crucifixes, which we usually distinguish from “crosses,” just might be really important because they remind us that Jesus was on the cross. Growing up I was taught that we don’t use crucifixes (in other words, jewelry around our necks or crosses in our churches in which a figure of Jesus is still hanging on the cross), because we wanted to emphasize that Jesus was not still on the cross because he rose again. But does any genuine Christian believe that Jesus is still on the cross? Correct me if I’m missing some other significant aspect of theology that would nullify the crucifixes, but I, a firm believer in resurrection, find there to be a very helpful visual reminder to crucifixes. I find them to be a reminder of something that will help us answer the question of why the cross is important.
Want to learn the big difference between a crucifix and a cross? Want to learn why the cross matters so much?
Join us this coming Sunday, May 29, 2016 at Faith Church as we take a look at the crucifixion, hopefully with new eyes! If you want to prepare, you can read all about the crucifixion in Luke 23:26-56.