Triumph in Christ's Cross
Johannes von Staupitz, Luther's Father Confessor
8 November 2016
God never does what we expect. Just when the Roman world was becoming completely Christian, God sent the scourge of successive barbarian invasions to destroy Roman hegemony over the Mediterranean world. At the time people asked why God was permitting this suffering to roll over them just then when "everyone" was becoming a Christian. They did not expect God to permit suffering, since they had kept their side of the religious bargain and joined God's team, overthrowing the pagan gods. This question drove Augustine of Hippo to write his monumental reply, The City of God. Augustine disclosed part of God's theological answer to the problem of suffering and death. The cross of suffering is actually God's blessing to us. He gives it to us to shape us like Christ. He burdens us to exercise our faith. He brings death to force us to confess life.
                        
There was another answer given to the descent of the Roman world into religious and intellectual darkness. This more practical divine answer occurred on the forgotten edge of the Roman world, in a place never civilized by the Romans, a place unimportant to Augustine (if he even knew of it). That place was Ireland. A Christian priest, of whom Augustine had never heard, named Patricius went from England and converted the Irish. The now famous Patrick had brought Christ to Ireland. Within a generation the Irish went from being wild warring illiterate pagans to being generally peaceable (occasionally still warring!) Christians literate in Latin and Greek.
 
No one living in 400 A.D. could never have predicted what the situation in 500 A.D. would be like. Over that one hundred-year span Ireland went from being a backward country to being the golden repository of Christian learning and literature from which emanated the missionary monks who restored Christian learning and literature in Europe. So, neither the conquered (the Romans), nor the conquerors (the Germanic barbarians) triumphed. The victory was not Rome's, not the Germans', but Christ's. When we bear the cross the victory remains with Christ.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Martin Luther
 
"When faith begins, God does not forsake it; He lays the holy cross on our backs to strengthen us and to make faith powerful in us. The holy gospel is a powerful word. Therefore, it cannot do its work without trials, and only he who tastes it is aware that it has such power. Where suffering and the cross are found, there the Gospel can show and implement its power. It is a word of life. Therefore, it must implement all its power in death. In the absence of dying and death it can do nothing, and no one can become aware that it has such power and is stronger than sin and death. Therefore, the apostle says 'to test you' (1Pt 4:12); that is, God inflicts no glowing fire or heat, that is cross and suffering, which make you burn, on you for any other purpose than 'to test you,' whether you also cling to His Word. Thus it is recorded in Wisdom of Solomon about Jacob: 'God sent him an arduous contest, so that he might know that godliness is more powerful than anything' (10:12) God lays a cross on all believers in order that they may taste and establish the power of God, the power which they have taken hold of through faith." 

Martin Luther, Sermon on First Peter, 4.12
John 12:20-33

Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus." Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
 
"Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name." Then a voice came from heaven: "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again." The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, "An angel has spoken to him." Jesus answered, "This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.  (ESV)
Prayer
Merciful God, Your Son, Jesus Christ, was lifted high upon the cross that He might bear the sins of the world and draw all people to Himself.  Grant that we who glory in His death for our redemption faithfully heed His call to bear the cross and follow Him, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
 
For the leaders of Memorial Lutheran Church, that God's people would be enabled to fulfill their promises to the needs of His church
 
For the Board of Regents of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne as they meet today, that the Lord Jesus would lead them in their deliberations

For all the electors who are voting this day, that all would be done decently and in order
 
For all those who have received crosses from God, that they might confess this truth and glorify God in their suffering
 
For all deployed troops, especially Robert Gaub, that God our heavenly Father would be with them surrounding them with the holy angels
Art: Durer, Albrecht   The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
©  Scott Murray 2016