His Word is the template for your salvation, the joyous word of your forgiveness in Jesus Christ, the way of the Cross is the baptismal path. And in the Way that is just and so justifies, makes us right by faith. This Gospel, in fact all the Gospel, written, taught, preached and administered in the Sacraments is the template of His Cross. I know I have pointed out before the floor plans of the Gothic Cathedrals of Europe and America are cross-shaped. The cross is the template of the Church, His Temple, His Body. This is the template of each life within Christ’s Body. In today’s Gospel is the precise moment in which the Lord began to teach His suffering: rejected, killed, buried and risen.
37For what can a man give in return for his soul? A rhetorical question, which is its own answer: a man can do nothing. We all know that, even the non-believer. The devil knows that! There is nothing we can do, however God can and has. Bought for a price, a steep price. As the Elizabethans would say, “God’s blood”. He became sin and died, a must. The template of His Cross and Resurrection is not only seen but also first heard, Scripture is summed up by the Catechism and for us today, in Luther’s Explanation of the the 2nd article of the Creed:
What does this mean? Answer: I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord. He has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and delivered me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death; in order that I may be wholly His own, and live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, even as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true
This template is our daily life in Jesus Christ and it is baptismal and related to the 4th Chief part of the Catechisms, especially this Q and A:
What does such baptizing with water signify?–Answer: It signifies that the old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts, and, again, a new man daily come forth and arise; who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.
Where is this written?–Answer. St. Paulsays Romans, chapter 6: We are buried with Christ by Baptism into death, that, like as He was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Another Elizabethan, Shakespeare wrote, Julius Caesar:
“Cowards die many times before their deaths,
The valiant never taste of death but once.”
The brave in Christ Jesus do die many deaths and will taste of life forever: Jesus Christ. Dying and rising is our wet walk in Baptism and not to be ashamed of it, but proud of His love which has loved us to the end and will forever. His blood teaches us we are His. We confess our sins and cling to our Savior, not our selves. The pictures are of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York: unmistakably a cross, a cross in the midst of Vanity Fair, unashamed. Around it buildings tower over that church. Cathedrals have spires which point us to heaven and fully the cross points us to heaven. The buildings round about only point to themselves. Many of the cathedrals have at the entrance a baptismal font: the way we enter and are His people. Christ Jesus is the sinners entrance at the foot of His Cross. The head of the cathedral is Altar where the Faithful receive His Body and Blood. Our cruciform lives pointing others to heaven: Jesus died and rose for you. Plain to see, plain to believe.
The Collect of the Day:
O God, You see that of ourselves we have no strength. By Your mighty power defend us from all adversities that may happen to the body and from all evil thoughts that may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
(from my sermon today at Concordia Lutheran Mission, March 4th, 2012; text: St.Mark 8: 27-38)