Good Friday Sermon and study
- Cross - Veneration and adoration on Good Friday and use it as a Symbol Of Christianity - Is this an idol worship? A violation of the 2 /10 commandments?
Of course not.
“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ that which the world has been crucified to me, and to the world.” (Galatians 6:14)
Idolatry is divinizing what is not God. “You shall have no other Gods besides me” - Exodus 20:3. Jesus has forbidden us to worship anyone or anything but God. Divinizing any other Gods, demons, power, pleasure, ancestors etc., are all idol worship. Jesus says, “You can’t worship both God and Money” -(Luke 16:13). So we trust, believe, worship and follow Jesus as our only Lord and God. And God is manifested in the name of the Father, the son and the Holy Spirit.
Besides Jesus, there is no other God. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called wonderful Counselor Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”- (Isaiah 9:6). Jesus commanded after his resurrection to his disciples, ”Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing in the name of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” - Mathew 28:19. St Paul says, "He is the image of the invisible God….For by Him all things were created, things in Heaven and on Earth, visible and invisible, whether the thrones or powers or rulers or authorities, all things were created by Him and for Him”- Colossians 1;15,16. So, Jesus is our God, the only God to be worshipped. All glory and power belongs to Him, Him alone.
He brought salvation to humanity by his death on the Cross. The Cross is the symbol of Christianity and its message is the only way to eternity. The Cross before his death, was a symbol of curse and darkness but now is grace, salvation and eternity to be feared by Satan and his demons, and those who follow the principles of the dark force. There is an old adage, "Like a Satan who has seen the cross." The Cross is always an anathema and taboo for all those who are against Jesus and his principles. For those who are for Christ, the Cross is their symbol to be touched, used, carried, venerated, preached, adored and signed on their church, forehead, heart and in all walks of life.
Satanic temples are flourishing all over the world with the sign of Danger, "the human skull" and is using it for all orgies of anti-Christ and against the message of the Cross. The Jehovah witness is in the forefront of not using the Cross as their symbol because they do not believe Jesus as God and Lord to be worshipped. Following the footsteps of their distorted teaching, others like some Pentecostal groups and some protestant denominations are poisoning the minds of the not properly trained and unlearned innocent orthodox community regarding the veneration and adoration of the Cross.
1: The image made for the purpose of worship and worshipping it as God, is idolatry. The first commandment and the second are interrelated. I’m the only God and don’t make any images. The same God says, “I will meet with you and give you all my command for the Israelite” -Exodus 25:22. In the tabernacle which is adored and decorated, there are two images of two Cherubim made of gold. “And make two cherubim out of hammered gold” - Exodus 25:18. The same God who commanded not to make any images directed Moses to make an image of the cherubim.
In the construction of the Jerusalem temple, Solomon as per God’s direction decorated the temple with images. “On the panels between the uprights, were lions, bulls and cherubim” - 1 kings 7: 29. And God said, "I have consecrated this temple which you have built by putting my name forever” - 1 Kings 9:3. It is clear that the images did not violate the command of God. The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it on a pole” - 1 numbers 21:9.
“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the son of man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him have eternal life" -John 3:14,15. The Cross - the symbol, reminds us of the message of the Gospel and held for all to see, a visual reminder of the sacrifice of Jesus. So, the bottom line is that we need to understand and follow the purpose of the image, and not the image.
"Carrying his own Cross, He went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic, is called olgotha” -
2: The power of the cross is not from the wood or cross but from the God who gives it.
A woman was healed by touching the hem of Jesus’ garment. “Just then a woman, who had a disease with an issue of blood for twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his cloak. She said herself, "If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed” - Mathew 9:20,21. Jesus was crucified on the Cross and we should believe and follow the message of the Cross and his sacrifice on the cross. Those who use and venerate it, will have the blessings and protection of Jesus. When we say grace before meals by bowing down our heads towards the food, it is not an idol worship of the food we eat, but the praise and adoration of Jesus who supplies our daily bread. The Eucharist we adore and commune is the blood and flesh of Christ, but the Cross is a devotional item for respect and reverence.
On Good Friday, when we venerate and adore the cross, we are only praying to Jesus who was crucified on it, and we are not worshipping or praying to the Cross. ENTREATY: ”We bow before the cross, by which we received salvation for our souls and with the thief we cry out: Remember us, O Christ, when you come.”
The head of disciples, Peter wanted to die with his head upside down on the cross to be in a position and privilege to kiss the feet of Jesus.. Anyone who loves Jesus will never consider the veneration and adoration of the Cross as idol worship.
Queen Helen went from Rome to Jerusalem to find out the cross of Jesus on which he died. She had found three crosses and she was in confusion as to which belonged to Jesus. To solve the problem, the three crosses were made to touch a dead body and the one cross that made the dead come alive was confirmed as the Cross of Jesus. In the mid Lent service, the priest prays: “Whoever looked at the brass serpent with faith, was healed of all manner of sickness; and whoever looks upon the Cross shall be healed from all his sickness.” The deacon says the following psalmody: ”Through you, we will pierce our enemies; through your name, will we tread them under that hate us" - Psalm 44:5.
When we lift the Cross during the mid-lent service, we conclude it by looking at the cross with the priest praying: “O Christ, Our God, who was pre-figured and typified by the serpent of brass, we pray and beseech you to put away from us the deadly bitterness of sin. Heal our souls and bodies from the stings of Satan, even as those who looked at the serpent of brass and were healed. In the same manner, O Lord, heal our sickness and infirmities, because our minds are fixed on your cross, our eyes are lifted up to you, our hope and trust are in You always. You are acknowledged as the Redeemer and Deliverer of our life, and to you we offer glory and thanksgiving with your Father, and your Holy Spirit, now and forever.” Is this a prayer to the cross or to Jesus?
“The word of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved, it is the power of God” - 1 Corinthians 1:18.
3: The Cross transmits the word of God, the message of salvation taught the greatest lesson ever.
Christ should be delivered as per His commandants in all the worlds in the name of Jesus. That should be done through all the mediums known to human beings. And that is biblical. Jesus used parables, stories, nature, and images to convey the message of salvation, and at last he selected the Cross to die on to bring salvation. Then why not we use the cross to continue the same message to our generations?
Through plays, skits, films, photos, dramas, books, social medias, arts, architectures, sculptures and other ingenious ways, we try to convey the core message of Jesus, the salvation through his death on the cross because of his love for humanity. But the best bet is the cross, which needs no explanation. The simple symbol of the cross speaks God’s love silently but effectively.
So, there is a secret mission of Satan to wipe out the importance of the cross which is being carried out by innocent, but gullible Christians who heed to the advice and teachings of false Christians.. In Muslim countries the sign of cross is anti-Islamic and is not allowed to be worn by people publicly and bars any Christians churches from displaying it. Even the cross on tombs are destroyed.
Adoring, venerating and using the Cross as a symbol of Christianity is not idol worship but the true worship of God.
“As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross”. (Mathew 27:32)
Idol worship: According to the Bible, idol worship is anything that you consider and love in your heart more than Jesus. This could be images of money, beauty, knowledge, job, children, spouses, power, people etc., that we love more than Jesus. So it is better to break free and come out with a clean mind and heart to understand the cross of Jesus in its right perspective. The cross is a symbol of victory over Satan and is a reminder to stay away from evil ways. Once we realize this, we will venerate the Cross in our homes and churches.
“NO WONDER, THEY CALL HIM SAVIOUR”
The small house was simple, but comfortable and adequate. It was one of many in a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of a Brazilian village. Maria and her daughter Christina were two souls living there. The furnishing was modest; a pallet on either side of the room, a washbasin, a wood burning stove, and a wooden crucifix.
Maria’s husband had died when Christina was an infant. The young mother stubbornly refusing opportunities to remarry, got a job and set out to raise her young daughter. Now 15 years later, the worst years were over. The modest salary was reliable and it did provide food and clothes. And now Christina was old enough to get a job and help out.
Some said Christina got her independence from her mother. She recoiled at the traditional idea of marrying young and raising a family. Not that she couldn’t have had her pick of husbands. Her olive skin and brown eyes kept a steady stream of prospects at her door. She had an infectious way of throwing her head back filling the room with laughter. She also had that rare magic some women have that makes every man feel like a king just by being near them. But it was her spirited curiosity that made her keep all the men at arm’s length.
She spoke often of going to the city. she dreamed of trading her dusty neighborhood for exciting avenues and city life. Just the thought of this horrified her mother. Maria was quick to remind Christina of the harshness of the streets. “People don’t know you there. Jobs are scarce and the life is cruel. And besides, if you went there, what would you do for a living?” Maria knew exactly what Christina would do, or would have to do for a living. That is why her heart broke when she woke one morning to find her daughter’s bed empty. Maria knew immediately where her daughter had gone. She also knew immediately what she must do to find her. She quickly threw some clothes in a bag, gathered up all her money, and ran out of the house.
On her way to the bus stop she entered a drugstore to get one last thing. Pictures. She sat in the photograph booth, closed the curtain, and spent all she could on pictures. With her purse full of small black and white photos, she boarded the next bus to Rio de Janeiro.
Maria knew that Christina had no way of earning money. She also knew that her daughter was too stubborn to give up. When pride meets hunger, a human will do things that were before unthinkable. Knowing this, Maria began her search. Bars, hotels, nightclubs, any place with the reputation for street walkers or prostitutes. She went to them all. And at each place she left her pictures taped to a bathroom mirror, tacked to a hotel bulletin board or fastened to a corner phone booth. And on the back of each photo she wrote a note. It wasn’t too long before both the money and the pictures ran out, and Maria had to go home. The weary mother wept as the bus began its long journey back to her small village.
It was a few weeks later that young Christina descended the hotel stairs. Her young face was tired. Her brown eyes no longer danced with youth but spoke of pain and fear. Her laughter was broken. Her dream had become a nightmare. A 1000 times over she had longed to trade these countless beds for her secure pallet. As she reached the bottom of the stairs, her eyes noticed a familiar face.. She looked again, and there on the lobby mirror, was a small picture of her mother. Christina’s eyes burned and her throat tightened as she walked across the room and removed the small photo. Written on the back was this compelling invitation: “WHATEVER YOU HAVE DONE, WHATEVER YOU HAVE BECOME, IT DOESN’T MATTER. PLEASE COME HOME.”
My dearest brothers and sisters, ”Have you ever received Christ as your Savior?” “It means repentance.” Nothing is more important on earth than have a repented and surrendered life to our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Let this Good Friday be a day of “BORN AGAIN” experience. Let us be a witness for Christ in our Actions and Love as Christ died for us on the Cross. Let the Cross be a sign of Victory for all of us.
Yours in Jesus
Paulose Achen from Toronto.