Dear Members and Friends at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church,
We are coming upon the time of Lent. It begins 1st March with Ash Wednesday. I encourage you to make this a more intense time of prayer, Bible reading, fasting, and worship. Remember services are every Wednesday during Lent, 12:00 PM and 7:00 PM, until we reach Holy Week.
Luther has some excellent words in regard to the crucifixion of Christ. In 1519 he wrote a very popular tract called "A Meditation on Christ's Passion". Let me share some of those thoughts. For the sinners who are blind to sin and hardened to the Spirit it is to their benefit to fine terror in the cross. So Luther writes.
"They contemplate Christ's passion aright who view it with a terror-stricken heart and a despairing conscience. This terror must be felt as you witness the stern wrath and the unchanging earnestness with which God looks upon sin and sinners, so much so that he was unwilling to release sinners even for his only and dearest Son without his payment of the severest penalty for them. Thus he says in Isaiah 53[:8], "I have chastised him for the transgressions of my people". If the dearest child is punished thus, what will be the fate of sinners? It must be an inexpressible and unbearable earnestness that forces, such a great and infinite person to suffer and die to appease it. And if you seriously consider that it is God's very own Son... who suffers, you will be terrified indeed. The more you think about it the more intensely will you be frightened.
You must get this thought through your head and not doubt that you are the one who is torturing Christ thus, for your sins have surely wrought this... Therefore, when you see the nails piercing Christ's hands. you can be certain that it is your work. When you behold his crown of thorns, you may rest assured that these are your evil thoughts. etc.
For every nail that pierces Christ, more than one hundred thousand should in justice pierce you, yes, they should prick you forever and ever more painfully!
For those who feel their sin and long for the Savior the contemplation should be different. So Luther calls us to see grace.
"First of all, you must no longer contemplate the suffering of Christ (for this has already done its work and terrified you), but pass beyond that and see his friendly heart and how this heart beats with such love for you that it impels him to bear with pain your conscience and your sin. Then your heart will be filled with love for him, and the confidence of your faith will be strengthened.
Now continue and rise beyond Christ's heart to God's heart and you will see that Christ would not have shown this love for you if God in his eternal love had not wanted this, for Christ's love for you is due to his obedience to God. Thus you will find the divine and kind paternal heart, and, as Christ says, you will be drawn to the Father through him. Then you will understand the words of Christ. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, etc." [John 3:16]. We know God aright when we grasp him not in his might or wisdom (for then he proves terrifying), but in his kindness and love. Then faith and confidence are able to exist, and then man is truly born anew in God". 1
Luther is right. In the cross we see both the severity of God's judgement and the warmth of His grace toward sinners. Let us pray, Oh Lord, may we through the Holy Spirit gaze upon the cross with confident hearts and peaceful spirits. Let us ever see God's great love in the work of Jesus. Let us find our rest and peach in Him. Amen.
1 Luther, M. (1999). Vol. 42: Luther's works, vol 42: Devotional Writings! (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed. ) (8-9). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.