Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

Lent Devotional - March 18, 2023

Hymn: “Cross of Jesus, Cross of Sorrow”
               We often don’t think much about things that are simple. The world certainly does not make much out of common and ordinary things. Of course, that is on purpose and by design. If we were attracted by every little and everyday occurrence, we would be bogged down by the minutia.

               Our hymn at first glance seems to match that thought of being common and simple. The life of the writer is also ordinary and common. William J. Sparrow Simpson has very little about his life detailed. Sources online told me that I should not confuse him for his father who shares the same name, which tells you that not much will be found on him.

               But there is something about being common and ordinary that resonates with God. He does not overlook or miss the ordinary. He notices when the sparrows fall. He knows the number of hairs on everyone’s head. He chooses what is ordinary in the world to shame the powerful. He chooses that which does not exist to shame that which does. That is God’s Modus Operandi. He creates from nothing.

               So it is through the cross and through the ordinary means of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, that God the Father accomplishes His work and reveals His glory.

               God goes to the common and ordinary to achieve His ends. That which is unlooked for is revealed to be our salvation. A man who had no appearance that we should desire Him ends up being the desire of the nations. God does not look at things the way that man looks at things. The things that God does seem to be rather rustic and mean. Nails, wood, blood, mockery, cruelty, and shame. Through this, God works the salvation of us all.  It is not through great strength of arms or a showy display of movie CGI that God attracts people to the salvation that He has wrought.

               It is rather through something ordinary: through Jesus Christ, His beloved Son. God came through a regular human being who lived a rather obscure and plain life, so plain that for the first 30 years of His life not much is said beyond His birth.

               So plain and unlooked for was Jesus that when the Pharisees questioned whether He was the Christ, and Jesus said He was, they could not believe it.

               But it is in this perfect God and perfect man that God achieves the greatest work ever done: our redemption and salvation.

               Cross of Jesus, cross of sorrow. This hymn lays it out simply and plainly. But it is for that reason too that this hymn has found a place among our hymnody. It confesses the truth, simple as that, which is glorious and great.
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