I was stopped in my tracks by these words penned by the 8th century monk John of Damascus. He is said to be the last of the Church Fathers.
How often the cross becomes a worn-out and shallow symbol of my faith; something so central and so present that I no longer see it and comprehend what it means to me and to the world. Allow these words to redefine the way we think of the cross – they did that to me:
By nothing else except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ has death been brought low:
The sin of our first parent destroyed,hell plundered,resurrection bestowed,the power given us to despise the things of this world,even death itself,the road back to the former blessedness made smooth,the gates of paradise opened,our nature seated at the right hand of God,and we made children and heirs of God.
By the cross all these things have been set aright… It is a seal that the destroyer may not strike us,a raising up of those who lie fallen,a support for those who stand,a staff for the infirm,a crook for the shepherded,a guide for the wandering,a perfecting of the advanced,salvation for soul and body,a deflector of all evils,a cause of all goods,a destruction of sin,a plant of resurrection,
and a tree of eternal life.
( John of Damascus, Orthodox Faith,4)
Praise the Father for the giving on his Son. Praise Jesus for his obedience – submitting to death on a cross. Praise the Spirit for making all that was accomplished on the cross ours – for making us God’s children and heirs by faith in Jesus.