Seven angles of looking at the cross

Recognising that you need help and knowing who can help is a good start to solving a problem—and even more so the basis for eternal redemption. Yet there are even more useful ways of looking up to the cross.

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” The Chief Apostle used this Bible text from John 3: 14–15 as basis for his divine service in Accra in Ghana on 27 March 2022.

The context: Jesus was speaking about His death on the cross and referred to an incident during the Israelites’ journey through the wilderness. The people had rebelled against God, who had sent poisonous snakes. When the Israelites saw that the bitten people died, they realised the gravity of their fault. To save themselves they had to look up to the brazen serpent that Moses had erected.

Profound: the bite of the snake

“God wanted them to trust Him,” Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider explained. “This is the example Jesus used to explain: you have to believe in Me to be saved.”

“The venomous snakes are an image for sin.” Man’s fall into sin caused his separation from God. And each individual sin keeps us from perfect fellowship with God. To be freed from original sin and to obtain the forgiveness of sin we need to look up to Jesus Christ, the crucified Lord.

Redemptive: looking up

The Chief Apostle cited seven perspectives how believers can look up to Christ on the cross.

  • Understanding that we need help. “First, we need to become aware that we need salvation. We have to feel the need and have the will to be saved. Not everybody agrees with that. They do not really feel the need to be saved. But our wish is to enter the kingdom of God, not just to be wealthy on earth and have a few nice years on earth.”
  • Knowing who the Saviour is. “Who can save us? There is only one: Jesus Christ. We believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God who came on earth. We believe that He was the only man who committed no sin whatsoever. We believe that Jesus Christ died for us and that He rose from the dead. We believe that He was the first man to enter the kingdom of God clothed with the resurrection body. We believe that He will come back to take us with Him into His kingdom.”
  • Accepting His authority. “You know what it means to look up to someone: you have to acknowledge and accept their authority. We know that no one else can do what He did. Our Lord is Jesus Christ. We do not worship other gods in any form. His word is always the truth. He decides which way we should go. He has authority over our whole life in all its aspects: the public and the private, the visible part and the invisible.”
  • Building up a personal relationship. Everyone had to look up to this brazen serpent themselves. Our salvation depends on our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. No one can believe for us; we have to believe. No one can trust for us; we have to trust in Him. No one can obey for us; we must be obedient. Our relationship to God should not depend on the thoughts, opinions, or behaviour of somebody else. We should not allow ourselves to be influenced by the way they behave, speak, or act. It is a personal relationship.”
  • Following our role model. “Looking up to Jesus on the cross also means following His example, emulating Him. Jesus believed in His Father and trusted in Him until the end. People really treated Him horribly. But He remained Himself and forgave them. He loved them until the end. Even while He Himself was suffering He helped the man on the cross beside Him. He made sure that His mother was taken care of. He trusted in God until the end and He loved mankind and God until the end.”
  • Accepting the helper. “In Christian tradition, Mary is the image of the church. On the cross, Christ entrusted His church to Apostle John. He entrusted His church to the care of the apostolate. He wants to save us through the activity of the apostolate. Through the apostolate we can be reborn out of water and the Spirit. Through the apostolate we can receive Holy Communion, the food we need to grow into eternal life. Through the apostolate we can be prepared for the return of Christ.”
  • Keeping our future in mind. “Remember that the victory only became visible after the resurrection. Look up to Jesus and remember: the salvation of the believers is not yet visible today. In the worst case, it looks like a defeat. However, if you trust in Jesus until the end, you will experience the first resurrection and your victory, the victory of Christ, will then definitely be visible.”

“So trust in Jesus and be patient,” the Chief Apostle said in conclusion. “Jesus Christ is our Saviour. He will save us.”

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Andreas Rother
Ghana, Chief Apostle, Divine service