(I actually won’t be able to deliver this message until chapel service on Tuesday- but thought I would share what I have planned since today is Holy Cross Day)
This past Saturday was HOLY CROSS DAY- Not Every Church but Lots of Different Denominations around the world celebrated Holy Cross Day- In some countries it is seen as the day or festival that marks the end of the Summer- it is always on September 14th –
some Christians call it by different names- Holy Cross Day- the Festival of the Cross- the Exaltation of the Cross- the Triumph of the Cross- We Celebrate the Holy Cross on September 14th because that is the day that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was consecrated in Jerusalem by the Emperor Constantine in the year 335, legends say that Saint Helena, His Mother, found the True Cross of Jesus during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and a portion of that cross was placed inside the Church-
I wrote this last week as a way to celebrate Holy Cross Day- Let’s Start with reciting Psalm 98:1-5- it was a hymn that was written to invite all the people on earth and creation itself to join in singing a new song of “beautiful noise” celebrating God’s justice and victories.
and then we will pray-
PSALM 98:1-5 (to be read in unison)
O sing unto the LORD a new song; for he hath done marvellous things: his right hand, and his holy
arm, hath gotten him the victory.
The LORD hath made known his salvation: his righteousness hath he openly shewed in the sight of
He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel: all the ends of the earth
have seen the salvation of our God.
Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.
Sing unto the LORD with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm.
Let Us Pray: O Lord- Our Maker – Our Redeemer – Our Comforter- We Gather today to Meditate on
the Work of the Cross- Ordained by The Father – Carried out by the Son – Proclaimed by the Holy
Ghost- Open Our Hearts To Your Word And Draw Us Closer To You- We Praise You- We Bless You-
We Worship You- We Glorify You- and We Give Thanks to You for Your Great Glory-
For You Alone are Holy; and You Alone are Lord; AMEN
MOSES- BRAZEN SERPENT (adapted from The Voice translation of Numbers 21:4-9)
I want to start by going back to the OLD TESTAMENT- and retelling you the Story of the Children of Israel in the Wilderness- Just to quickly recount it- you may remember they had to wonder in the wilderness for 40 years because they would grumble against God and disobey- this is during that time period-
the Israelites set out again. They left Mount Hor and traveled by way of the Red Sea, skirting Edom;
but again, the difficult travel gave everyone a short temper. They challenged both God and Moses.
The Israelites said: What were you thinking to bring us up out of Egypt and let us die out here in this
desert land? There’s nothing to eat and no water either. We are sick and tired of living on what food we have.
As a divine response, the Eternal One sent venomous snakes among them and the people were bitten. A number of Israelites were indeed killed by them. They then appealed to Moses.
The Israelites said: We are so sorry! We know that it was wrong to speak against the Eternal and
against you. Please talk to the Him, and get Him to take these awful snakes away.
So Moses appealed to God on behalf of the terrified and chastened congregation, and He instructed
Make a venomous snake that looks like the ones tormenting the congregation, and put it on a pole.
Everyone who gets bitten can simply look at your serpent and be healed., Said the Eternal God
So Moses took some bronze and cast a likeness of those vicious snakes to serve as an antidote for
anyone who had been bitten. If they were to look on the bronze serpent, they would then live.
remembering that Old Testament story- we will go to John chapter 3- we actually read a different part of John 3 last week- Jesus talking to Nicodemus-
so lets read THE GOSPEL OF OUR LORD JESUS ACCORDING TO JOHN
John 3: 13-17
13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.
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.
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not
perish but have eternal life.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
The Brazen Serpent that Moses lifted up in the wilderness was a type or a foreshadow of the Cross of
Christ- The Brazen Serpent being lifted up on the Pole was an antidote for the Curse of the Vipers and Christ being lifted up on the Cross was the Antidote for the Curse of SIN.
But we do not remember the Cross or Pray to the Cross as a Magical Item or Idol- It isn’t a magical talisman- when We wear it, or place it on our buildings, or proclaim it to the world- We use it as a sign to remember and easily share with others our Faith in Christ- the Sinless Lamb who placed himself on that Cross and had God’s Wrath Poured out on him for Our Transgressions-
Jesus FOREKNEW He Would be Lifted up- – about 3 years before his crucifixion he told Nicodemus in the Gospel of John- “The Son of Man must be lifted Up” – Lifted Up To The Cross at the Crucifixion- Lifted Up From the Grave at the Resurrection- Lifted Up to Heaven at the Ascension-
Verses 14-17 of John 3 are loaded with Theology- they contain Christology- Jesus was the Only Begotten Son sent to Save the World- it contains Soteriology- Believing on Christ will grant everlasting
life – Sovereign God Theology- The CROSS is Part of His DIVINE PLAN-
George Bennard, in the hymn- The Old Rugged Cross, doesn’t let us forget that the Cross was a symbol of not just suffering, but shame- every willful sin and every secret hidden violation was taken on by the Best Friend man has ever had- Sinless Christ Became Sin- Paul says in Second Corinthians- “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” -TO FREE US FROM THAT PUNISHMENT- SHAME- SUFFERING- The Song Says
–For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary.
— 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.
Lets Go and See what Paul and the Early Christians thought about the Cross-
from Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians 1 Corinthians 1:18-24
18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding
of the prudent.
20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made
foolish the wisdom of this world?
21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the
foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
It seems like part of the World is always asking for signs and another part searching for facts – either way it is Power and Wisdom they Seek. But we tell a different story. We proclaim a crucified Jesus, God’s Anointed. The world sees it as either scandalous or uneducated, but for those of us living out God’s call—regardless of our heritage or world view— we know the Anointed One -that is Christ Jesus, the Messiah- both Messiah and Christ mean Anointed One- embodies God’s dynamic power and God’s deep wisdom. You can count on this: God’s foolishness will always be wiser than mere human wisdom, and God’s weakness will always be stronger than mere human strength.
The cross challenges human values because no one expects to find freedom through Death. Unlike most of the thousands who faced crucifixion before and after Jesus, He was clearly not a criminal. God uses this contradiction to reveal His power and wisdom: Jesus has offered Himself to death and has been raised to life to bring liberation to others. Those who truly follow this crucified king do not seek power and authority through the normal patterns of the world; they offer themselves in loving sacrifice for others. That is where God’s transforming power is truly revealed in the church.
In our Epistle Reading- Paul tells us that we are to preach Christ Crucified- the Messiah Executed- the Savior Humiliated- The Spotless Lamb Standing Slain as Revelation 5:6 says- The Cross is the
Foundation of the Word of God and the Christian Faith- If you Have NO CROSS, You HAVE NO
ATONEMENT- NO SALVATION- NO CHRISTIANITY-
Talking about the cross reminds me of a lot of songs- we all ready talked about the Old Rugged Cross- does anyone else have any favorite songs that talk about the Cross? — At the Cross At The Cross where I first Saw the Light and the Burden of My Sin Rolled Away–
another old one from the 1700’s was Rock of Ages—
Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling;
If you Haven’t Trusted in the Message of the Cross- that Christ, Our Atonement, Took Our Place- I ask You To Do That Now- Believe On Him as the Son of God and as Your Savior- You can quietly Confess that He is Lord of Your life right now if you have never done it- by simply saying I know I am a sinner and I know you died for my sin- make me a new creature, Lord- Amen
Most Merciful God,
Thank you for sending your only begotten Son, Jesus to be our atonement on the cross
and for sending the indwelling Holy Spirit to guide and comfort us until the return of Christ
We Confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
We haven’t Loved You with Our Whole Heart-
We haven’t Loved Our Neighbors as Ourselves-
We Are Truly Sorry and Humbly Repent-
We have Faith that Your Word says
“If Any Man Sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the
Perfect Offering for Our Sins, and not for Ours Only, but of the whole world.”
King James Version (KJV)