But we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles. 1 Corinthians 1:23
Once there was a little girl who proudly wore a shiny cross on a chain around her neck. It was pretty and had found a special place over her heart. Things would have stayed that way, except that one day she was approached by a man—one of those crabby kinds of guys that, thank heaven, you don’t meet very often. The man said, with acid in his voice: “Young lady, I imagine you think Jesus died on a cross for you. If He did, and I’m not saying He did, I don’t think that cross was pretty like the one you’re wearing. It was an ugly wooden thing. I don’t think you should wear it as a piece of jewelry. After all, you wouldn’t wear a hangman’s noose or an electric chair around your neck, would you?”
That little girl, placed in a position far too personal for her to deal with, responded with respect: “Yes, sir, I do believe Jesus died for me on a cross. And I know that His cross would not have been as pretty as mine. But I also know, sir, what they told me in Sunday school.”
“And what was that?” the man queried. “In Sunday school, my teacher told me that whatever Jesus touches, He changes,” she answered. “I think that is true for this cross. I know that it’s true for me.”
That grouch was absolutely right. The cross upon which Jesus died to save us was not a pretty thing. It was rough and rude and crude. It was an instrument designed to give torment to the one who hung upon it. Even as the grouch was right about the horror of the cross, the little girl was right as well. The death of Jesus transformed an ancient instrument of torture into God’s means and symbol for the salvation His Son won for us at such a high cost.
Yet it is not just the old rugged cross that has been changed by Jesus’ life, suffering, and death. The power of His redeeming, forgiving sacrifice transforms all who are called to believe on Him in faith. Christians, whose souls were once blackened by sin, are by the washing of Baptism, made white as snow. We who once were lost and without a family are—through the cleansing of Jesus’ blood—found and adopted into God’s family of faith.
Excerpt from The Lutheran Hour sermon preached on March 23, 2003
THE PRAYER: Gracious God, You are the giver of all good things. Thank you for sacrificing Your Son on that old rugged cross and adopting me into Your family of faith. Open my eyes to all of your blessings today, so that my heart may overflow with thanksgiving. Amen.