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Lift High the Cross

One bright Easter morning, a little girl about 4 years old, adorned in a colorful spring dress and shiny patent shoes, was making her first ever visit to church. As she and her parents were being ushered toward the front of the sanctuary the little girl caught sight of a large cross hanging in the chancel.  Upon seeing the cross the little girl was overheard to excitedly exclaim, “Look mommy and daddy! See the big plus sign!”

Ah, from the mouth of babes! Truly, the cross is God’s big plus sign for us all! Here in the cross is God’s Good News for all humanity, for the cross is the death of death and the judgment of judgment. It is little wonder then that the Apostle Paul resolved, “For I decided to know nothing  among  you except  Jesus  Christ and him crucified” (I Corinthians 2:2).  Again, Paul purposed, “God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 6:14).  All the longings of humanity and the wonder  of angels meet at the cross.  Many have likened the message of the cross to a scarlet thread that runs through Scripture from the opening pages in Genesis to history’s grand finale in the Book of Revelation.

The cross is the heart, the vital center of our faith.  It is the lifeblood of Christians.  It is our hope, our confidence through life and death.  The words of the nineteenth century English theologian, P. T. Forsyth (1848-1921) still challenge today: “The church must always adjust its compass at the cross.” Again and again, churches and individuals must come back to the cross as our north star, our fixed point of reference through all changes and dangers of life.

Amazingly, the cross reveals all that we  need to know about God, or need to know about ourselves.  The cross reveals to us God’s holy love, his inscrutable wisdom, mysterious justice, and ineffable power to redeem the unredeemable. And the cross also reveals to us the truth about us, our moral bankruptcy, desperate need for a savior, and infinite worth to God.  We cost God the death of his Son!  The German astronomer Johann Schroeder wrote, “It has been the cross which has revealed to good men that their goodness has not been goodenough.”

Significantly, the Latin word for cross, crux, serves  to  illustrate  the  centrality of the cross for us.  For instance, when in conversation we say that a particular point we are making is the “crux of the matter,” we are saying that just as the cross is key to Christianity, so the point we are making is key to what we are saying.  Here is the crux  of  everything,  the  cross!  The  cross  is  the  fulcrum  on which history turns.   The cross is two beams running at right angles, perpendicular to one another. One beam runs vertically, planted deep  in  our  world  and  reaching  towards  the heavens joining a fallen humanity to God.  The other beam is horizontal reaching out like arms to a shattered, hopeless world.  The little girl is right, the cross is God’s big plus sign for us all!

Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim,
Till all the world adore His sacred Name.

Led on their way by this triumphant sign,
The hosts of God in conquering love combine.

Each newborn servant of the Crucified
Bears on the brow the seal of Him Who died.

O Lord, once lifted on the glorious tree,
As thou has promised, draw the world to Thee.

So shall our song of triumph ever be;
Praise to the Crucified for victory.

Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim.
Till all the world adore His sacred Name.

“Lift High the Cross,” George Kitchin and Michael Newbolt

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