The word for the day is “glory .” The Cross. A symbol of the world’s hatred, yet the sign of God’s infinite love; an image of defeat, yet an emblem of victory. A sight of shame, yet a vision of glory.
Today in our reading of 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:2, Paul writes, “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty” (NKJV vs. 27). By this pronouncement, the apostle notes that the Cross contradicts everything that this world stands for. The Cross judges all the values and aspirations of worldliness; its power, its pleasures, its riches, and its prestige. It shows them to be empty and meaningless, for God did not use any of them to free us from our bondage to sin. He chose to employ the seeming dishonor and disgrace of the Cross.
The Cross Is the Power of God for Salvation
From the viewpoint of our key verse, we realize today that whatever we seek in this world, cannot save us. The wisdom of this world cannot make us wise. The signs of fortune cannot deliver us. But the Cross? It is the “power of God unto salvation to those who believe” (NKJV vs. 18). Therefore, Christ has become “for us wisdom from God – and righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (NKJV vs. 30).
The Glory of the Cross
After His betrayer had left the Last Supper, Jesus gave His Farewell Address to His Church. In His last teaching before His arrest, he said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in Him” (John 17:1). Throughout this solemn day, we should keep this thought to keep in mind. In the Passion of Christ is the Lord’s glory. What seems to be an ignoble end is the glorious beginning. What appears to be utter defeat is victory. What seems to bring death gives the promise of eternal life. The Very Reverend Paul Lazor sums up this thought: “Beyond the scene of the human suffering of Christ is the reality of His work of redemption of all men” (Lazor 1980, 17).
Placed in a Tomb but Opening the Gates of Life
We realize the depths of the Glory of the Cross this evening when we will carry the body of the Beloved Lord Jesus and place the Lord of Life in the tomb of death. Accordingly, the Aposticha before the Precession with the Shroud chants: “In the tomb Thou wast willingly enclosed in the tomb who are boundless and infinite in divinity. Thou didst close the chambers of death, O Christ. Thou hast opened all the palaces of hell” (Lazor, “Vespers of Holy Friday,” 44). Thus, the unbounded Lord of Heaven and Earth could not be contained in any tomb. When He rose from the sepulcher, He closed the doors of death behind Him. And He opened up the gates of eternal life ahead of Him. Death is now entombed, and its captives are set free.
When Martha objected to the opening of the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus replied, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” (OSB John 11:40). And then He called Lazarus out of the tomb. Thus, for this day and evening, we have the Lord’s promise that we will see the glory of God. Let us believe in that promise that it might be fulfilled for us.