The Cross

As we look toward Easter, we will be talking about different aspects of the cross and what it means.  Today it symbolizes Christianity.  We have cross necklaces and jewelry and we use it as a decoration and a symbol of our faith.  That was not its original meaning.  In the years before Jesus, it was a symbol of torture and of death.  It was a symbol of shame for only the worst criminals and the most despised were executed in this way.  The idea was, that these people were too corrupted and filthy to be allowed to touch the ground.  They were subjected to the most painful death possible.  The despised ones were crucified in a public place to display their shame and bring terror to those who would consider rebelling against the Roman Empire.  The closest comparison today would be the Electric Chair even though its goal is to be a humane way to do away with those unfit for society.  Imagine the looks we would get if we wore a necklace with an electric chair on it.

But, in light of what Jesus did, the cross has a different meaning.  It is where the great exchange took place:  Jesus’ righteousness was exchanged for our unrighteousness.  He took the punishment that our sins deserve, and we get the rewards that his sinlessness deserves.  At the cross the justice of God and the love of God meet.  Because he is just, sin cannot go unpunished.  Because he is love, Jesus took the punishment we deserve.  It is at the cross that Adam’s sin is finally rectified and the relationship between God and humanity is restored.

The physical aspect of the cross also has important symbolism.  The vertical upright speaks of the relationship with God.  The horizontal crossbeam signifies our relationship with each other.  It points to the Great Commandment of love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and love your neighbor as you love yourself.

The ultimate message of the cross, though, is that God so loved the people in the world that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever trusts in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Jesus came to the cross so that anyone who is willing may have eternal life.  All we need to do is to personally trust in his sacrifice and ask him to forgive us.  It is not enough to believe that he died for the sins of the world in general.  It is not an automatic thing even though the price for our forgiveness has been paid.  We each need to ask in a simple prayer, Lord Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner.  Give me your righteousness and eternal life.  Thank you, Jesus, Amen.  It cost Jesus everything because he loves you more than you could ever imagine!

In the shadow of the cross,

Pastor Ed