Löhe on Philippians 3:18

Kreuzigung IX Gruenewald 1515

For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ. (Phi 3:18 KJV)

If the apostle St. Paul would have called his enemies foes of humanity it would not have been as terrible as his stipulation: “enemies of the cross of Christ”. This cross is the place where the righteous died for the unrighteous. The Lord suffered there so that we would be freed of sin, death and devil. From this cross the new life sprouted, the very life that had once been lost in Paradise by our own fault, our own most grievous fault. That is why this ugly, harsh cross is so commendable to all e all are to truly venerate it.

If the apostle St. Paul would have called his enemies foes of humanity it would not have been as terrible as his stipulation: “enemies of the cross of Christ”. This cross is the place where the righteous died for the unrighteous. The Lord suffered there so that we would be freed of sin, death and devil. From this cross the new life sprouted, the very life that had once been lost in Paradise by our own fault, our own most grievous fault. That is why this ugly, harsh cross is so commendable to all e all are to truly venerate it.

Now why does the Apostle warn us so insistently against the enemies of Jesus’ cross? Since the suffering, dying and death of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross there have always been those, who despise him and that cross too. They hate it – literally. In St. Paul’s time there was the party called the “enemies of the cross”. They were friends of the law and they wanted to keep that law high and in honour as pathway to heaven and eternal salvation. Not just the vicarious suffering and death of Jesus on the cross, but also some legalistic strappings, rules and regulations. Yet this was stealing some of the honour and hiding some of the glory of Jesus’ cross and sacrificial death. Here – as always – our Lord Jesus Christ is very exclusive. It’s him alone. Nothing else. Every little subtraction is too much detraction.  Every little addition is too much. It would dull his solitary glory. Its dangerous and harmful if something else pushes the cross from centre stage. Any side-lining is detrimental. Night and darkness falls on those, who loose sight and faith of the one on the cross – our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ +

Lord Jesus Christ: Your word of the cross is tough stuff for all, who don’t know themselves nor their sinful dire straits. Those too clever think it is foolhardy, whereas the self-righteous reject its accurate accusation angrily.   Yet for us, who recognize you as our saviour and helper it remains the power of God, which saves, redeems and justifies us. Let it carry us through this world and life creating in us plentiful good fruit for the eternal harvest. Amen.

When I survey the wondrous cross On which the Prince of glory died, My richest gain I count but loss, And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, Save in the death of Christ my God! All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood.

 See from His head, His hands, His feet, Sorrow and love flow mingled down! Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine, That were a present far too small; Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all. (Isaac Watts, 1674-1748)

This is a rather free translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for Tuesday after the twenty third Sunday after the high holiday of the Holy Trinity. It is found on Pg. 378 in Lob sei Dir ewig, o Jesu!   (Eternal Praise to you o Jesus!) edited by A. Schuster and published in the Freimund Verlag, Neuendettelsau 1949.

About Wilhelm Weber

Pastor at the Old Latin School in the Lutherstadt Wittenberg
This entry was posted in Meditations by P.Wilhelm Löhe (Translation) and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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