If one had to briefly describe the heart of Christianity, an appropriate summary would be, “It centers in the cross of Christ.”
Though this monologue is entitled Brege’s Cross Words, of course the words of the cross do not uniquely belong to Brege. I will be presenting and discussing Christ and his cross in any number of ways, pointing especially to upcoming lectionary readings, and also relating the cross to our beloved Synod and District.
Ultimately the words of the cross must be associated with our Lord who persistently pointed people to the place he was appointed to approach: He set His face toward Jerusalem, to be crucified; as the Good Shepherd He had to lay down His life (at the cross) for the sheep; to follow Him we must take up our cross, because that is where He had to go; even as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, He had to be uplifted on the cross; etc.
Appropriately the words of the cross are prominently portrayed and magnified by the Lord’s Apostolic representatives: They preached Christ-crucified; they boasted in the cross; the tree of the cross was where He bore our sins; those rejecting the faith were enemies of the cross; etc.
The words of the cross are central to each sacrament: We are baptized into Christ’s death on the cross and in Baptism we obtain forgiveness—which only flows from the cross; in absolution the cross is likewise the only reason forgiveness can be pronounced; in the Eucharist not only do we partake of the fruit of the cross, but we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
As just noted the New Testament is clearly about Christ’s Cross. What then of the Old Testament? Jesus declared that the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms predicted the necessity of the death of “the Christ”; sacrifice is arguably the most prominent permeating theme of the Old Testament…from Cain’s and Abel’s sacrifices through Israel’s sacrifices and concluding with Malachi’s discussion of sacrifice. What else could sacrifice be portraying other than Christ on the cross? Thus the foundational theme of the entire Scripture—Old and New Testament—is the cross of Christ.
Finally, and not in the sense that this summary is exhaustive, the life of the Baptized is lived in and out of the cross of Christ. Thus Saint Paul would summarize as only an inspired writer could: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20)