The Cross

 

Read John 19:16–19.

 

What does the cross mean in today’s society?

We wear it around our necks, we hang it on our walls as decoration, we place it on the side of the road to memorialize lives lost. Many people today don’t realize the sacrifice that God made through Christ’s death on the cross because we have glamorized it for the sake of a holiday—a day off work.

But at the time of Christ, the cross caused great distress. It was the symbol of ultimate torture and cruelty—human crucifixion. The writers of the Bible didn’t include the horrific details about what happened to the human body during crucifixion because they didn’t need to. Those who lived in fear of this barbaric death penalty knew all too well its effects.

The great Roman politician Cicero said about crucifixion, “It is a crime to bind a Roman citizen; to scourge him is a wickedness; to put him to death is almost parricide. What shall I say of crucifying him? So guilty an action cannot by any possibility be adequately expressed by any name bad enough for it.”

The cross represents the nasty, despicable mess of this world—the ultimate darkness—but the world is overcome and made perfect through the blood of Christ and love of God, providing the hope of eternity. Christ’s ultimate sacrifice erased the sin of everyone who believes in Him. Jesus died, arms wide open, to create a direct path to the Father. He provides a bridge that takes us from our sin-filled humanity to the perfect home that awaits us in heaven.

But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
(Isaiah 53:5–8)

When Abraham took Isaac with him to make a sacrifice without bringing an animal, he assured his son, “God Himself will provide” (see Genesis 22:1–14, HCSB). Some 2,000 years later, God would give His own Son as the perfect offering, the “lamb that was slain” to take our place.


PRAYER

You are the author and creator of life. Dear Jesus, I thank You for giving us the promise of eternal life through Your death on the cross, resurrection from the grave, and ascension into heaven. Let me remember that the cost of my sins has already been paid through the cross. Remind me today and always that no works that I do, or sacrifice that I make, can ever come close to repayment for what You have already done. You are my salvation.

ADDITIONAL READING:

Romans 5:8
Luke 14:27
Hebrews 12:2
Philippians 2:5–11

From Arise, Cissie Graham Lynch, 2018

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