Friday, November 03, 2006

"Why is Jesus still on the Cross?"

Over the last several decades, it has become less and less fashionable to have a crucifix in the sanctuary, even in Lutheran congregations. We seem to be more and more embarrassed to have this image among us on any day except Good friday.
When your child asks about images on the processional cross or in the stained glass depicting the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, the question might come up, "Why is Jesus still on the Cross?" or "Why is Jesus still a baby in the arms of Joseph?"
The Lutheran Reformation affirmed that art and sculpture and images in the church were not to be removed or banned if helpful in pointing us to our Savior and his saving work. God-pleasing images do not go against the Ten Commandments, but were part of the worship life of God's people since the days of the Exodus.
Picturing Jesus on a cross is not confessing that Jesus is still on the cross, just as picturing Jesus in the manger is not confessing that Jesus is still a baby.
When it comes to our salvation and Jesus' ministry on earth, his sacrifice on Good Friday is the center-point around which everything else must turn. Saint Paul said it best when he wrote, "I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." (1Corinthians 2:2)
The images of Jesus in church and in our homes are not magic images to keep away vampires or medallions to keep bad things from happening to us. Just like the Creed, they are a confession of who Jesus is and what he has done in our place. They are indispensable reminders that Jesus is God in the flesh, who alone is our atoning sacrifice and, as such, is our only source of true hope and eternal comfort.

(Please see the Rev. Dr. Stephen Mueller's "The Theology of the Crucifix" in "Let Christ be Christ" - ISBN 0967498902 -- for one of the best presentations on this subject.)