Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

Lent Devotional - March 14, 2023

Hymn: “Cross of Jesus, Cross of Sorrow” (LSB #428, v. 1)

Cross of Jesus, cross of sorrow,
Where the blood of Christ was shed,
Perfect man on thee did suffer,
Perfect God on thee has bled!
Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? These important questions are how we come to understand and meditate upon the truth. Each answer gives us enlightenment and equips us for life and how to live. Each answer to these questions shows us how concrete and real our faith is. It is not built on theories or ideas. It is built on flesh and blood, wood and spear. It is from eyewitnesses that saw these things, not people who made it up as it went along. It is these questions that our hymn ponders as we gaze upon the events of Holy Week and these questions will be how we shall spend our meditation.

The first question that we ask in our hymn is what?: The cross of Jesus. Two pieces of wood fixed together upon which the Roman government would execute criminals of the state. At some point these pieces of wood were merely seeds planted upon the earth. They sprouted and grew. Perhaps at some point these trees had children climbing on them and playing on them. They gave off oxygen and gave shape to the horizon. Then one day, they shuddered as an ax was laid to them. They would have been sawn and shaved and made into the shape of a cross. The time for their planting had come again.

Soon hands carried them. Hands that would have felt the rugged and splintering wood. Hands that soon would be fixed with nails through the wood. This is the cross of Jesus, the cross of sorrows. And where once vibrant leaves decorated them, now blood comes dripping down them. But this blood is a different kind of life. The blood of Jesus Christ was shed on this wood. No doubt the dry, exposed wood was stained with the blood, a reminder of the horrors of that day, but a reminder of the price for sin that was paid.

For who is this whose blood stains this wood? Our next question of who? is answered here. This is Christ Jesus. And who is this man condemned to death? This is Perfect Man. This is the One in whom there was no deceit found in His mouth. This is the One who is righteous and blameless. This is the One who committed no sin and lived perfectly by all God’s Law. This perfect man, our brother who shares in our flesh and blood, He is suffering on the cross.

But this is no ordinary man. This is Perfect God. This is the One by whom all things were made. This is the Author of Life Himself. This is the Son of the Most High who came down and took upon our sins. This is the one Lord Jesus Christ.

He is of our race and born in this age by His mother Mary. His death is able to be applied for our sins. This is no goat or lamb, but the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. And He is true and fully God, whose death and bloodshed is able to be applied not just for one person but for all.