Genesis 18: 20-32 

Psalm 138 

Colossians 2: 6-15 

St. Luke 11: 1-13 

“The Black Cross” 

Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen. 

Within the Lutheran Church there is a symbol that is  commonly and uniquely shared among us throughout the globe,  and that is the Luther Rose. The symbol at its very center has a  Black Cross, set inside a Red Heart, which rests on a White  Rose, surrounded by a Blue Sky with a Gold Ring as the border.  Now there isn’t anything particularly special about this identifier,  for we are free to use whatever appropriate symbol we wish to  use, thus we are not bound by this Luther Rose or obligated to  use it. Yet we still have it, for it is a wonderful teaching opportunity  to explain the Christian faith. If someone comes to you asking  what this symbol is, use that moment as an opportunity to explain  each of the parts and by doing so you will also provide a  testimony of your faith. 

Now at the absolute center of this rose is the core of our  entire faith, the cross. Everything points towards the cross. The  Old Testament prophecy to the cross, and the New serves as a  witness to it and all the grace that comes from it. Without the  cross the entire Bible is meaningless, for the culmination of all  human history, the climax of this amazing story known as Earth is  and will forever be the cross.

The creation points towards the cross. The fall is the reason  for the cross. The promise to Abraham is fulfilled through the  cross. The Passover event in Exodus foreshadows the cross.  Moses lifting up the serpent in the wilderness to cure the  poisoned Hebrews depicts the cross. King David and his psalms  lift up the cross. Isaiah prophesies the cross. The Babylonian  Captivity extends to the cross. All that is in the Law and Histories  and Prophecies and Stories of the Old Testament is fulfilled  through the cross. 

And our faith is found in the cross. Our Salvation comes not  from the birth of Christ, nor His parables or early miracles. Our  Salvation comes chiefly not in the Resurrection or Ascension,  though the inheritance and promise of heaven does. Our  Salvation begins with the cross. This is why, Lutherans place  particularly strong focus on the cross, an almost year-long Lenten  like focus where every day to us is Good Friday. In fact our  theology is not called Lutheran Theology, but rather the Theology  of the Cross. Everything we believe in begins first with the cross,  is always looking towards the cross, and concludes with the  cross. The cross is our cornerstone, without it our faith crumbles,  thus instead of placing our focus on the majesty of Christ, which  we do, we place our chief focus on the suffering of Christ. 

The cross at the center is black. It is bleak. It is filled with  misery. The cross is a killing device intended to torture their  victims for hours as the agony of their own weight crushes their  body. Christ suffered on that cross, and we should never forget  that. He endured so much pain and then died on that horrible tree.  God died… but he died for us.

People these days are too squeamish. They want to focus  only on the good parts of the Bible. They go to Easter but never  Good Friday, for one feels good but the other reminds us of the  tragedy that Jesus went through. We want to praise God who is  alive and lift up the resurrection, yet ever so briefly acknowledge  

the suffering. We want to feel good, and ignore the painful things  in life. But to such mentality I say this, how can you appreciate the  good things in life without acknowledging the bad things? How  can you truly appreciate the Gospel without understanding the  Law? How can you lift up your hands in praise and elation without  pointing out the reason for the praise and elation? How can you  claim you are saved without stating from what you are saved?  How can you praise the resurrection without looking first at the  cross? 

Without the Law, the Gospel is meaningless. Without Good  Friday, Easter is meaningless. Without Christ’s death, His  resurrection is meaningless. Without stating you are a sinful  person incapable of saving yourself, lo incapable of doing one  good thing, then the salvation and forgiveness of sin and gifts of  righteousness and ability granted to finally do good works which  comes only through faith in Him is all meaningless. Without sin,  the cross is meaningless. 

The reason why Jesus died on the cross is to save us from  our sins. John 3: 16-18, “For God so loved the world, that he gave  his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but  have eternal life. 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. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but 

whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has  not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” 

Notwithstanding, though the cross was already black in a  sense for it is a killing device, through the suffering of Jesus  Christ, the cross truly became the blackest and most bleak of  things for through the cross Jesus took on all our sins. The weight  of the entire world’s sin was place on that singular cross. 

I’m surprised it didn’t snap in two under that most certainly  crushing burden. I’m surprised a dark miasma of sulfuric gas  didn’t seep out the grains of the sin soaked wood that made the  cross. I’m surprised reality didn’t fold in on itself as that spiritual  mass of cosmic sin gravitated and compounded in and through  the suffering of Jesus on that cross. The color black barely suits  the depravity of that singular object. Not even the blackness of a  black hole which swallows light can hold a candle to the cross. 

But least we forget the reason why the cross is so black,  which is because through it Jesus is taking on the sins of the  entire world throughout all time and space; it is black because  Jesus is taking on your sins, all of it, so long as you allow Him. 

Whereas we should never be happy as to why Jesus had to  die on the cross in the first place, there is much joy for through the  cross, Jesus has indeed forgiven you of your sins and has  overcome the Devil so that you will be set free/saved from his  prison. Jesus suffered the consequences of sin so that you won’t  have to. Jesus took on the weight of sin, so that you won’t have  to. Jesus went to Hell with all that sin, so that you won’t have to.

In our second lesson, which is alluded to in the Lord’s  Prayer, St Paul says, “And you, who were dead in your  trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive  together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by  canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal  demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” Forgive us our  debt, forgive us our trespasses, forgive us our sins… all of which  means the same thing. 

At birth we are sinners, and throughout our lives we  continuously accumulate sin. Our collective trespasses against  each other and against God is debt that can never be forgiven  through our own merits. In fact, even if we were to perfectly obey  the Law, according to Luke 17:10, Jesus says “So you also, when  you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are  unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” Perfectly obeying the law is a net zero, it is what you ought to  have done in the first place. So if you sin and do good works, debt  or a net negative plus ought or a net zero, what do you get? -1  plus 0 is still -1!  

No amount of works will ever cancel out sin, the debt you  have accrued. Thus works or merit will never lead to salvation. So  how do we cancel out our debt? We don’t, but Christ takes on  your debt and suffered the consequences. Thus if Christ says, I  will pay off your debt for you by going into Hell in your stead, then  there is no debt for you to pay off; in other words only faith in  Christ, and on no account of merit, can you be saved from the  debt of sin and the clutches of Hell. For the legal record of debt 

that stood against you was nailed to the cross, paid through the  precious blood of our God. 

In the end, so long as you have faith in Christ and allow him  to take on your sin, He will do so, thus cleansing you from the  spiritual blights that damage your soul. It is through the cross and  the cross alone that you are saved. The sin you had, has been  nailed to the cross. The darkness that was in you has been  absorbed by the cross. This is why the cross is the center, and  why we absolutely need it. 

Let us pray, 


Dear Heavenly Father, though the tragedy of the cross is so  damning, help us to boldly face the reality of sin so that we  willingly with faith cast our sins upon that dreaded tree, and  through such graciously receive salvation. In your heavenly name  we pray: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

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