Most of the major religions throughout history have had emblems or symbols to distinguish themselves from other faiths. Judaism has the Star of David, Buddhism the Wheel of Dharma, Islam the Star and Crescent, and on and on it goes.
But Christianity has a totally unique and unusual symbol, in that it is an emblem that represents the torture and death of the central figure of our faith, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Even the non-Christian knows that, when they see the cross, it represents the Christian faith.
It took time for the Christian church to come to terms with the disgrace and horror of the cross. The early church forbade its depiction in art until the reign of the Roman emperor Constantine, who also banned it as a method of execution. So, it wasn’t until the fourth century that the cross became a symbol of the Christian faith.
Ironically, Christianity has become a religion of the cross. Despite the shame and sadness of it all, somehow what happened on a hill called “The Place of the Skull” became the most important fact and feat of Jesus’s life. Guess what? It can be the most significant event in your life too.
We mustn’t ignore the cross. It is the pivotal point of history. All that preceded it was a preparation. All that followed it is a consequence. Jesus tasted what all people must taste—death. Jesus entered what everyone must enter—the grave. Jesus died for us all. You can’t look at the cross without seeing God’s love, and God can’t look at the cross without seeing you. The crucifixion was God’s ultimate answer to the sins of all mankind.
The cross was raised in the soil of the first century, but its shadow falls on the entire span of time since. The cross was raised to deal with the sins of every person. Too many people see the cross and walk away from it unmoved and unchanged. But to own the cross is to see that Jesus experienced the worst of human suffering as He sacrificed His life so that you can receive forgiveness and victory over death.
I used to perform a song that was originally recorded by Steve Green. It’s titled Embrace the Cross. It may not have been the audience’s favorite, but it was one of mine. Considering the theme of this blog, I’d like to share the lyrics with you:
Embrace the cross where Jesus suffered
Though it will cost all you claim as yours
Your sacrifice will seem small beside the treasure
Eternity can’t measure what Jesus holds in store
Embrace the love the cross requires
Cling to the one whose heart knew every pain
Receive from Jesus fountains of compassion
Only He can fashion your heart to move as His
Oh, wondrous cross our desires rest in you
Lord Jesus make us bolder
To face with courage the shame and disgrace
You bore upon Your shoulder
Embrace the life that comes from dying
Come trace the steps the Savior walked for you
An empty tomb concludes Golgotha’s sorrow
Endure then till tomorrow your cross of suffering
Embrace the cross
Embrace the cross
The cross of Jesus
Embrace the cross! Gladly bear its shame and reproach. And then live faithfully for the One who died for you and as you. Welcome him into your heart and life right now. The journey of a lifetime begins with a simple prayer of surrender.