BY REV. JERRY GAUTHIER - CONCORDIA LUTHERAN CHURCH OF LAKE PARK & TRINITY LUTHERAN CHURCH OF SIOUX VALLEY, MINNESOTA
“For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”
1 Corinthians 2:2
Lent tells us we have a problem.
Yes, it deals with sin and death.
Yes, the devil is all wrapped up in it.
All of this falls upon Jesus at His suffering and death. However, our problem now is to picture the God of our salvation in some other way. It is to take Jesus off the cross to be some other kind of Savior — to look for some other glory from God that is a better fit for our lives. What a blow to hear St. Paul deliberately choose to picture life as one before "Jesus Christ and him crucified."
There are many ways the Gospel can be whisked away into some other kind of glory. Jesus warned His disciples before His suffering and death saying: "For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders …" (Matthew 24:24). Likewise, even when St. Paul delivered the Gospel the crowds at Lystra worshiped Apollos and him as if they were gods (Acts 14:8-18).
How could there be so many different christs? What caused such confusion over mere men like St. Paul and Apollos?
The cure for it all comes down to the crucified Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is to hear Him clearly from the cross cry out, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34) This tears down all the glorious ways "to misinterpret the Gospel as the message of the triumphant epiphany of a savior-god after the manner of ancient mystery religions or the epic of a religious hero" (Letters to Lutheran Pastors 397).
Jesus is not a Marvel Comic superhero or belongs to the X-Men. He is not a god built by our standards of glory that we see. Matter a fact, even the glorious ways of God as the creator are a mystery before His cross. Jesus is the Son of the Father sent to save a sinful world. His glory is to be the sacrifice, to suffer, to bear sin and to die in our place. Only faith can see such glory from God hidden in the cross. What appears strange is what the word declares for us to hear and what the sacraments give for us to see. Forgiveness, life and salvation is God’s proper work that is the victory trusting in what hides behind Jesus Christ and Him crucified.