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Archive for March 14th, 2017

The hand pointing to heaven was the sign in the 60s-70s for the “Jesus People”.  It signified Jesus is the one way to heaven.   If I stood on a busy street corner, with my index people pointing up, folks would start looking up to see what I was pointing to!  Is it a bird, is it a plane…Is someone jumping? Or asking what you are pointing to. “Jesus”  ”Ahh, I don’t see Him.”  Pointing to thin air.  Or doing such indoors pointing to  the ceiling. Stuck.

The one-way-to-Jesus sign went the way of the Dodo bird.  Jesus Christ is not thin air. The Christians who came up with it had pious intentions but for all of our inventions and ‘improvements’, especially in theology, the time-tested recipes are still the ones to be emulated for they have stood that test by being in accordance with the plain sense of the Bible, the Word of God, which lasts forever.  

The problem with the one-way sign is it’s ambiguity.  Making the sign of the cross is utterly unambiguous…it’s absolutely clear:  Jesus Christ died for me, a sinner and I’m a Christian. The sign of the cross signifies the cross alone while pointing up can mean many other things. The provenance of making the sign of the cross is ancient as  the early Church Fathers attested to the use of the sign of the cross. Tertullian (d. ca. 250) described the commonness of the sign of the cross:

“In all our travels and movements, in all our coming in and going out, in putting on our shoes, at the bath, at the table, in lighting our candles, in lying down, in sitting down, whatever employment occupies us, we mark our foreheads with the sign of the cross” (De corona, 30).

And hidden in plain sight for decades was Fr. Luther’s instruction in The Small Catechism to make the Sign of the Cross getting up in the morning and at bed time. 

The Cross of Christ Jesus is definite. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…as definite, the Lord taught, as Moses lifting up the bronze serpent it the wilderness (John 3: 1-17).   As definite as your name by which He has called you (John 10:3).  God loved every one, every cell He created and came to redeem.  The world loves the easy talk about universal Armageddons.  Jesus taught the universality of the Cross, so that sinners  be saved by faith in Him.  Our cross means dying to sin and rising in  the newness of life everyday:

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. Paul says 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. (The Small Catechism, Holy Baptism)

Now that’s a definite plan! The sign of the Cross says by His grace we are part of His universal/catholic salvation, that the dying are held by His grace through faith in Him unto eternal life. 

The salvation is universal and objective…yet can be sadly ignored.  Jesus was pointing the way, foreshadowing to Nicodemus the signpost of salvation and even more Himself: the Savior.    The sign of the cross does not point to thin air, but the Holy One of Israel alone.  We are not stuck in our sins but freed from them in His Word to us, for us, in us, preach, taught and administered in the Sacraments. It points to the history of our salvation in the Lord as accurately recorded in the Bible.  The sign of the Cross is unmistakable.  No mistake that Jesus Christ died and rose for us all.  This was, “…according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:  23).  Definite.

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