Take a look at the jewelry people are wearing today and you’ll probably notice a lot of folks wearing crosses — on necklaces, bracelets, earrings and pins. Many people who wear a cross as jewelry think of it as a nice ornament. But what does the cross really mean? What is the significance behind the crosses we wear, or see on the gravestones of our loved ones, or find gracing local church steeples?
Christians point to the cross of Jesus Christ as a reminder that He died an agonizingly painful death. In the Roman Empire the government executed criminals by nailing their hands and feet to large, wooden crosses with vertical and horizontal beams that “crossed” one another like a huge “t.” hanging on a cross was purposely designed as an excruciating and slow form of death.
When Jesus claimed to be God, the religious leaders and government officials became so angry that they had Him arrested, sentenced to death and nailed to a cross… where he suffered and bled for six long hours before He died. Even though Jesus didn’t deserve such a horrible death, it was part of God’s plan! “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8)
Jesus’ death was far more than the end of a human life. as the son of God, His death accomplished several amazing things. As He was dying, he took upon Himself the sins of the whole world. “Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). As our substitute, he paid the penalty for our sins.
Jesus’ death means that when you accept Him as your Savior, your sins are forgiven and you are “justified,” that is, declared righteous, in God’s sight. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Ephesians 1:7) We are “Justified freely by his grace” (Romans 3:24)
Before a person believes in Jesus, he or she is God’s enemy. But because of the cross anyone can be “reconciled” to God and the enmity between them and God removed. “When we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son” (Romans 5:10). Then you become God’s child, born into His Family, where you remain forever.
If you will accept Jesus as your Savior, he will give you eternal life, freedom from the power of sin and from the fear of death. “Whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). “By his death…” He frees “…those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Hebrews 2:14-15).
Though the cross of Christ seems foolish to some people and other religions, those who believe in Jesus Christ find that it reveals the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18), meaning the power to save people from sin and hell and to transform their lives.
The cross stands as the greatest symbol of the central fact of Christianity – the death of Christ in our place. But the cross represents only part of the good news. yes, he died and was buried. But He rose from the dead! So the next time you see a cross, think of the empty tomb. And remember that Jesus died so that you can have eternal life. Why not trust Him right now as your Savior? Click here for Steps to Peace with God.
The Cross = Love, Joy & Peace
by Roy B. Zuck
- Jesus was nailed to a cross. (see Matthew 27:31-35)
- Pick up your cross. (see Romans 6:6)
- Death by the cross. (see Philippians 2:8)
- Following Christ requires that we shoulder our crosses. (Mark 8:34-38)
- The power of the Good News comes from the power of the Cross. (1 Corinthians 1:17-18)
- Jesus’ death unified all Christians. (Ephesians 2:16)
- Jesus’ death was a sacrifice. (Colossians 1:20-22)
- Jesus’ death defeated Satan. (Colossians 2:14-15)
- Jesus’ cross is an example for us. (Hebrews 12:1-4)