I Love You Written In Red

Bronze and purple heart wood, 7.5" x 14" x 3.125", 2010

In the cross, Christ is paying the bride’s price to reconcile all humanity to Himself.  In traditional Jewish betrothals, a young man would offer a price to compensate the family from whom he chose his bride.  He would then offer his chosen bride a cup to drink.  If she accepted, they were betrothed.

Christ pays the bride’s price not with earthly wealth, but with His life.  What makes God’s love different is that Christ offers love to sinners who are unworthy.  His dying on the cross is the highest form of chivalry, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).  And even more so, “ but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).  In Holy Communion we receive Christ for us.

The Church’s One Foundation
The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ, her Lord;
she is his new creation by water and the Word
From heav’n he came and sought her to be his holy bride;
with his own blood he bought her, and for her life he died.

The Bronze Serpent - Large

Bronze, 9" x 14.5", 2012

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart
— Hebrews 4:12 ESV

These crosses are meant to look as if they have been found among the ruins of a Gothic cathedral.  Inherent in the symbol of the bronze snake is the material used.  The cross has been sculpted to resemble a chisel on all sides, meant to show how God’s word is sharper than any double-edged sword.   

The patterning on the snakes is a criss-cross shape.  It is as though small crosses decorate the skin of the snake as it slinks around the cross.  This patterning is found in stained glass windows or a fisherman’s net.  In the same way, God’s net cast with His Word, catches men.

The Bronze Serpent - Medium

Bronze, 3" x 5.25" x 1", 2012

And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.
— Numbers 21:8 ESV

The Old Testament narrative of the bronze serpent serves as a type for the coming Christ.  In John 3:14-15 “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”  The Israelites who looked to the bronze serpent to trust in God’s mercy were saved from the poisonous venom of the snakes.  Jesus saves us from the poisonous venom of our sins that lead to death.  Look at the cross trusting in the forgiveness of sins offered there.  We see, and we live.

The Bronze Serpent - Small

Bronze, 2.5" x 4.5" x 1", 2012

The type of cross used in these crucifixes is based off of Saint Patrick’s cross or the Celtic cross. The large bronze cross and the snake in one of the right windows of the sanctuary at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church is Des Peres inspired this piece.  According to legend, Saint Patrick saved the Irish by banishing snakes from Ireland. The Celtic cross proved to be the best design for a snake crucifix due to both its narrative and its shape.  The circular notches in each side allow the ropelike snake to coil about the cross seamlessly.