Theology of the Cross

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“When we were baptized in Christ Jesus, we were baptized into his death. We were buried therefore with him by Baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”

You may recognize these words from Romans 6:3-5, which are also included in funeral and memorial services.  This coming Sunday, April 1, we will celebrate Christ’s resurrection on Easter morning. That is a grand and glorious festival worship service, full of “alleluias” and the joy of the empty tomb and new life! As well it should be! We dare not, however, skip over Christ’s suffering and death that we observe Maundy Thursday and Good Friday of Holy Week.

Martin Luther, and Lutherans ever since, embraced a “Theology of the Cross” as opposed to a “Theology of Glory”. Scripture informs us as Luther pointed out, that there is suffering in this world and that God’s activity and God’s glory are often hidden from us, because of the reality of sin, suffering and death. If there was none of this, Jesus would never have had to go to the cross. But there is, and he did!  This is the world in which we live, and the world into which Jesus was sent to save.

“Baptized into his death” as St Paul states in Romans, means we have been crucified with Christ. “We know that our old self was crucified with him” (Romans 6:6) and again, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:19-20) So if we want the glory of the resurrection life, we must first acknowledge and accept crucifixion and death. This is a theology of the cross.

A theology of glory on the other hand, jumps right over Christ’s passion and death, and celebrates his glorious resurrection, without any attention to how Jesus got there.  It overlooks the sin and suffering in the world, and focuses instead on what’s good and makes people happy.  God never promised that our life in this world would be carefree, without trials and troubles.  He promised he would be with us, and if we trust him, he would carry us through all life’s circumstances, and in the end have life with him forever.

While we don’t dwell on what’s wrong in this world, neither do we ignore it. If not for the wrong, there would be no need for Jesus to set it right. In order to appreciate the resurrection, we must embrace the cross. It’s not just a symbol of our faith, the cross gives meaning to our faith.  Without the cross of Christ, there would be no resurrection of Christ.  Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

Pastor Wandrey

Holy Week & Easter Schedule

Maundy Thursday with Individual Absolution, Laying on Hands,

and Holy Communion, March 29, 7 PM

Good Friday Tenebrae Service of Darkness and Candles, March 30, 7 PM

Resurrection Celebration Easter Sunday, April 1, 10 AM, with

Easter Egg Hunt for the children following worship