by Fr. Dr. V. C. Varghese
If we leave the cross out of life of Christ, we have nothing left, and certainly not Christianity. Cross is related to our sin. Sin, what is it? Do we have sin? No, we do not need to hear about sin. (Pilate asked What is truth?, John 18:38, and turned his back on to The Truth). As a skeptic, are we trying to divorce of Christ and His Cross. Put the Cross-less Christ on the right side, and the Christ-less Cross on the left. Who picks up the Cross-less Christ? Our decadent intellectual skeptical masses. They have love-so often erotic-without sacrifice. We do know one thing that the end time, when the great conflict between the forces of good and evil takes place, Satan will appear without the Cross, as the great social reformer to become the final temptation of mankind.
Long before the day of His crucifixion, Our Lord taught that "take up his cross, and follow Me (Matt.16:24; 10:38). The divine sin-bearing was not confined to one moment of time, but that there is an eternal atonement in the very being and life of God, of which the cross was the incarnate part. If anybody does not take up his cross and follow Him, he is not worthy of Him and cannot be His disciple (Lk. 9:23; Mk.10:38). In this way either we are a Simon of Cyrene nor a Barabbas. If we do not carry His cross (not literal) and venerate His cross in obedience, we escape the cross of Christ like Barabbas. (Tyndale Biblical Theology Lecture: Alan Stibbs, 1954, London).
An Orthodox perspective : The Cross of Christ: The path, the power, and the Banner of the Church.
Where does a believer find strength for struggle? He receives it through communion with Christ, through love for Christ which inspired him to follow Him. This struggle of following Him, Christ called His "yoke", "cross" (Matt. 11:29,30; 16:24). The Orthodox path of the Christian is the path of the cross and of struggle. In other words, it is the path of patience, of the bearing of sorrows, persecution for the name of Christ, and dangers from the enemies of Christ, of despising the goods of the world for the sake Christ, of battling against one's passions and lusts. Looking with one's mental eyes "unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith" (Heb. 12:2). A true believer finds spiritual strength in the awareness that after the Lord's death on the Cross there followed the Resurrection: that by the Cross the world has been conquered; that if we die with the Lord we shall reign with Him.
The cross finally, is the banner of the Church. From the day the Savior bore the Cross on His shoulders to Golgotha and was crucified on the material cross, the Cross became the visible sign and banner of Christianity, of the Church, of everyone who believes in Christ.
Not everyone who belongs to Christianity has such an understanding to the Gospel of Cross. Large protestant groups deny the cross as a visible banner, considering it was an instrument of reproach. Apostle Paul already warned against such as an "offense of the cross" (Gal.5:11). For the reproach on the cross led to the Resurrection in glory, and the cross became the implement of salvation and the path to glory. The second coming of the Lord, which itself will be preceded by the manifestation in heaven of the sign of the Son of Man, according to the Divine words of the Lord Himself (Matt.24:30). The sign according to the unanimous understanding of the Fathers of the Church, will be magnificent manifestation of the Cross in the sky. Thus, with the cross is bound up the whole grandeur of our redemption. Reflecting deeply on the wealth of thought bound up with the cross, the Church hymns the power of the Cross, "O invincible and incomprehensible and divine power of the precious and life-giving -cross, forsake not us sinners" (Orthodox Dogmatic Theology : Father Michael Pomazansky).
The Copper/Bronze Serpent (Num.21:4-9).
(pl. read the given Bible ref for back ground info).
The judgment of God on the Israelites was swift as the God sent poisonous snakes among the people. They had rejected God's gift of life and health from heaven (Manna), so God sent them suffering and death from the earth, and many of the people died as the result of the bite from the venomous snake. The word "fiery" is the translation of the Hebrew word "seraph" which means "burning" and also refers to the angelic creatures 'Seraphim'. "Fiery" doesn't describe the appearance of the serpents but the inflammation and pain caused by their venom. Those bitten died quickly and apparently their death wasn't an easy one. The wages of sin is still death. God instructed Moses to make a serpent of brass and put it on a pole where all people could see it. If those who had been bitten looked at the serpent, they would be instantly healed.
Meditation on the Day of the Cross
During this Holy Great Lent, we need to humble ourselves prayerfully to learn at the feet of the two crucified criminals of Calvary, who are often scornfully dismissed as being among the lowest of the low.
Jesus was on the cross, dying as a sacrifice for our sin - for all time. During the last three hours that He was on the cross, the world became dark.
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