John 8:28-29 – Jesus said, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him."
This title is not meant to be facetious; in no way am I putting down the cross. This is what happened. Every Sunday, we go early to the rented community hall to put out chairs, place the pulpit in its spot, and replace a picture with a wooden cross hung on a nail. This we do to remind ourselves that Jesus' sacrifice is our cherished focal point for meaningful, spiritual worship.
One Sunday recently we were late, and rushed around expecting a larger crowd than usual. Someone took down the picture and discovered that there was no way to hang the cross! The walls had been painted and the nails removed! After hunting in all the kitchen and storage shelves for a nail, we found nothing! To make matters worse, the week before we had arrived only to find the piano locked! God had tried to put the thought in my head earlier to take my keyboard, but I gave this inner word no heed. Now, no warning about nails! What to do? A woman's purse solved our dilemma: we hung the cross on two pins!
Nails and Jesus' cross are intertwined in my heart, but pins? No matter, the cross was raised and we worshipped our Lord. When we lift up the Son of Man amazing things happen, for Jesus promised that when we honour him others will know he is the one he claimed to be — the Saviour of the world. Jesus blesses all who honour him.
We try our best to follow Jesus, but let's face the truth about ourselves: we too often fail; our sin stares us in the face and we sense others' disillusionment. Only Jesus can say, "I always do what pleases God." I now humbly look back at my life and wish for a stronger witness, a bigger heart, a faithful hand to lift high the cross of Christ so others might have seen more clearly whom I worship and serve.
It takes more than two pins to honour Christ in our lives. It takes nails through our pride and self-complacency until we too can say too, "I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me." Wow! I'd have to start with my sin and failure, and move on to Jesus' grace and forgiving love. This is why we hang the cross behind the pulpit: to remind ourselves that we are meant to honour and serve the Lord in the way we are called to, and to speak only the word he has given us by virtue of his spirit within us. We can lift the cross high in our daily tasks — even when propped up with two faltering pins!
- Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim
Till all the world adore His sacred name.
O Lord, once lifted on the glorious tree,
As Thou hast promised, draw men unto Thee.
Prayer: Lord, forgive us for thinking we can speak and act as if we know what we are doing. Clarify your truth for us today, that others may see in us the cross held high. Where needed, crucify our pride of will, our selfish hearts. In our painful failures may we learn that what is important today is to lift high the cross of Jesus and to do his will. May we not be too rushed or ashamed. Help us, Lord, not to hesitate, but to find practical ways, even small little ways always with us, to lift you high, for all to see who we honour and love this day. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.