It seems that the king found himself and his nation in trouble. Wars had been costly; and in trying to build the nation, he was seriously short of finances. He couldn’t disappoint his people; and to capitulate to the enemy was unthinkable.
So, after careful reflection, he decided to ask the women of Prussia to bring their jewelry of gold and silver to be melted down for their country. For each ornament received, he determined to exchange a decoration of bronze or iron as a symbol of his gratitude. Each decoration would thus be inscribed, “I gave gold for iron, 1813” or “I gave silver for iron, 1813”, etc...
The response was overwhelming. Even more important, these women prized their gifts from the king more highly than they did their former jewelry. The reason, of course, is clear. The decorations were proof that they had sacrificed for their king. Indeed, it became unfashionable to wear iron jewelry; and thus was established the Order of the Iron Cross. Members wore no ornaments except a cross of iron, in order for all to see their true devotion.
Dr. Jost goes on to assert that when Christians come to their King, they too are called to exchange the flourishes of their former life for a cross.
This past Sunday, I shared a message from the New Testament Gospel of Luke, chapter 19, verses 1-10, on Zacchaeus titled "When Worlds Collide". The Bible makes plain that before he met Jesus Christ, Zacchaeus lived a self-centered and self-enriching life. But after he came to know Jesus, he made a 180 degree turnabout.
According to verse 8, he became so convicted by His devotion to His Master that he pledged to give half of his earthly possessions to the poor, and also to repay fourfold to anyone he had previously cheated.
In short, Zacchaeus demonstrated what it means to become a committed follower of Jesus Christ. For in the New Testament Gospel of Mark, chapter 8, verse 34, Jesus once told His disciples that those would follow Him must first deny themselves and take up their cross.
In effect, Zacchaeus did just that. Like the women of Prussia, he traded gold for a cross! And in the process, he helped to strengthen and advance the Kingdom of God – both on earth and in Heaven!
Of course, all of this raises crucial questions for us; does it not? What exactly have we traded for the cross? What exactly have we sacrificed for the Kingdom of God? What exactly have we given up for the glory of our Savior?
STORY SOURCE: Available widely online. See, for instance: https://bible.org/illustration/i-gave-gold-iron.
SEE ALSO: https://www.fresno.edu/person/367/lynn-jost-phd.
SCRIPTURE SOURCES: https://biblehub.com/luke/19-1.htm;