Today the Church celebrates Holy Cross Day. The Gospel reading for this feast is John 12:20–33, where Jesus speaks of the cross upon which He will be lifted up. Our devotional reading comes from Meditations on the Gospels: According to His Word.
1 Corinthians 1:18–25
Jesus reminds His disciples and the Greeks in His audience of the necessity of His cross and also of the necessity of our crosses. As it is necessary for the grain of wheat to fall into the ground and apparently decay and die before it can bring forth new life, so must the Son of God be laid low in death before He could achieve the ultimate goal and purpose for which He had come into the world: the salvation of all mankind, both Jew and Gentile.
And the hour of that death, He says, is now at hand. By that death, in the place of sinners, He would redeem the entire human family. “When I am lifted up from the earth,” on the cross, [I] “will draw all people to Myself.” That was the first point of His discourse.
And the second was like it. In a similar way, we Christians must lose our life if we are to find it. “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” The early Christians who denied their faith in order to escape the lions saved their life in this world but lost it in the death eternal; but the martyr who dared to confess his faith in Christ lost his life in this world but kept it in the life eternal.
It is not probable that we will have to lose our lives in the same way as did the early Christians. But we will have to stand ready at all times to lose it for the Savior’s sake.
Yes, in a sense we lose our life for the Savior every day. We lose it in unselfish service to our Lord and to our fellow men. “If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me,” said Jesus, and then He walked straight toward Calvary. Are we willing to follow Him in such a path of service? Are we willing to “follow until it hurts,” to “obey until it hurts,” to “give until it hurts?”
The great apostle Paul said, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:7–8).
Paul “suffered the loss of all things.” But he found Christ. He lost his life, but in that loss he found something even more precious than life itself: eternal salvation through his Lord and Savior.
Devotional reading is adapted from Meditations on the Gospels: According to His Word, page 787–88 © 2009 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved. Scripture: ESV®.