The Witness of the Cross

Published on January 10th, 2017

“A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.” Matthew 2:18

As I travel north on I-69 from Evansville, I see a well-kept field next to the highway covered with neat rows of white crosses. These crosses bear witness to the lives of children who have lost their lives sometime between conception and birth. Their lives were cut short because, for one reason or another, they were considered a burden. They are sacrifices to human ignorance and selfishness.

The words from St. Matthew’s Gospel speak of another child who was considered a burden. King Herod was burdened in his heart and mind regarding the birth of another King. Fearing for his throne, Herod sought to protect his place of power by abusing that same power. He condemned to death the boys in Bethlehem who were two years old and younger. No white crosses honor the memory of their lives. Only the witness of God’s Word reminds us of the deep sadness felt by the families who grieved this great loss. These children were sacrificed to Herod’s ignorance and selfishness.

This year, we will inaugurate our newly elected president. What leadership will he give regarding the issue of life? Will the witness of the crosses and the witness of God’s Word be reflected in his leadership? Or will the witness of the Church be curtailed by legislation forcing compliance to political compromise? Such answers remain to be seen, but we must remember there is One whose witness cannot be silenced or ignored, our Savior Jesus Christ. His life, too, was marked by a cross. He also died at an age we would consider too young. Family and friends grieved His death, but thankfully that’s not where His story ends. We can all receive comfort in His resurrection.

The death and resurrection of Jesus is also our source of joy and confidence. For Jesus’ death on the cross remains the enduring witness to God’s eternal grace and mercy. Painted red with the blood of Jesus, this cross speaks of forgiveness of sins, life and salvation for those who struggle under the weight of sin’s guilt. Looking upon this cross, we are humbled to see the cost of redeeming all who are given life in this world, both the child in the womb and all who are born into this world. Looking into the empty tomb of Jesus, we rejoice that death is not our master because we have the Lord of Life at our side in His Word and Sacrament.

In the year ahead, our Lord of Life will give us ample opportunity to give witness to His sacrifice for sin. To this end we were marked with the sign of the cross in Holy Baptism. To this end we received His Spirit in Holy Baptism. To this work we are called. God grant we faithfully proclaim Jesus’ life, death and resurrection as the comfort of those who weep and the joy of those Jesus saves. This is the witness of the Cross.

By Rev. Robert Schneider, Our Saviour Lutheran Church, Evansville
Originally published in the January 2017 issue of the Lutheran Witness