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 Vol. 4, No. 10 

October, 2002

~ Page 15 ~

Four Meanings of the Cross

By Bob Spurlin

Many symbols will represent a movement that crystallizes the guiding principle of such a sacrifice under consideration. The Statue of Liberty represents the freedom that our ancestors and immigrants sought so desperately as they passed through Staten Island in New York. The Lincoln and Washington monuments serve to represent two great presidents, which illustrate the freedom and independence we presently enjoy.

We can see God's love for humanity epitomized through the cross of Christ. Sin, hate and humiliation were symbolic of the cross during biblical times. It was never looked upon in a positive way as so frequently practiced today. We often see crosses atop places of worship and even worn around one's neck, thus placing it in a hopeful or favorable way. Paul, the apostle chose not to boast in the cross, but to exalt it, which was a symbol of suffering and shame during the Roman Empire. Paul writes, "But far be it for me to glory (boast), save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ..." (Galatians 6:14). What does the cross mean to us today? It played a great role during the New Testament age and equally so today.

1. The cross reminds us of the horror of sin. The letter "I" in the word sin is the real problem. The Bible states, "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Paul further writes, "There is none righteous, no not one" (Romans 3: 10). Sin is the only thing that can separate us from God, and such alienation will thrust us into eternal punishment. Isaiah penned these words, "But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear" (Isaiah 59:2). The horror of sin is so black, so horrid and so destructive that we could paint no picture that would adequately describe its revulsion and contempt. The cross of Christ is the antidote that will grant sinful mankind an escape from its terrible consequences. We see the power of the cross in the words of Paul, "For the word of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but unto us which are saved it is the power of God" (1 Corinthians 1:18). Christ on Calvary's cross shows the horror of sin, but it furthermore gives us hope.

2. The cross reminds us of the heart of God's love. Without fear of contradiction, the cross is the divine exhibition of love, which the world has never known. Name one other symbolic act that comes close to the love represented in the cross that God has given, when our Savior hung on Calvary? John, the apostle of love said, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3: 16). If one wants to look into the heart of God, just look at the cross. It is a symbol of love, sacrifice and devotion for humanity. What greater gift could be given that would illustrate the profound love that he has for all human civilization? Imagine the price tag that was necessary to pay for human redemption. The apostle Peter in discussing the price of redemption said, "But with precious blood, as a lamb without spot or blemish, even the blood of Christ" (1 Peter. 1:19). Jesus' death on the cross reveals the heart of God. Sin was such a horrible and despicable offense against God that eternal death and separation from the Creator would be the price paid for such a transgression (Isaiah 59:1-2). Paul writes that God had taken it away through the cross (Colossians 2:13-14). Without the heart of God's love, sin would dominate man without a chance for redemption.

3. The cross is the herald of God's power. A herald is the key word that infers, announces, declares, broadcasts, proclaims or a carrier of God's power. The only way we can secure a victory over sin is through the power of the cross. Publishing the Word of the cross is to stress God's power. Consider the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the nuclear power it generates to provide energy for our homes, schools, businesses, etc. The TVA supplies a power source that enriches the lives of men and women in a temporal way, over an area that spreads hundreds of square miles throughout North Alabama. Physical power to which we make reference cannot begin to compare with God's power source in the cross of Christ. Paul underscores the importance of preaching the cross, "For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2). The message of the cross is utter foolishness to the masses of humanity today, much like those of Paul's day. The apostle addressed the Corinthians and stated, "For the word of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but unto those who are saved it is the power of God" (1 Corinthians1:18). Sermons during the apostolic age were focused on the cross. The death, burial and resurrection are interconnected, yet dependent upon each other. Beloved, the power of the cross can lift us up from the quagmire and morass of sin and our souls will soar as the eagles. One cannot herald the cross as God's power without targeting the message of the cross. Note Paul's words to the Corinthians, "but we preach Christ crucified, unto Jews a stumbling block, and unto Gentiles foolishness" (1 Corinthians 1: 23). Preaching the message of the cross is foolish to some, but to acquire salvation is to accept the terms that God has offered through the cross.

4. The cross is the hope of the future. Building our hope on the heavenly habitation is predicated upon the cross. The catalyst or basis of our eternal home, absent of the cross, is without foundation. Jesus said, "I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go to prepare a place for you, I come again, and will receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also" (John 14:2-3). Jesus is the builder of that celestial city with all the beauties and splendor that we can imagine. The clear and unmistakable message of the cross is our hope through Jesus, our Savior. Paul penned the following words, "because of the hope that is laid up for you in the heavens..." (Colossians 1:5). Christ is the vehicle through which hope is possible. Paul affirmed to the Colossians, "Christ in you, and the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27). Our hope is not in our economy, military power or educational degrees. Our hope is in God and the cross of Christ. The hope of our salvation is built upon the solid foundation of Christ (Matthew 7:24-27).

Today all the benefits of the cross can be ours, if we reach the blood that was shed on Calvary. Peter said, "knowing that ye were redeemed, not with corruptible things ... but with precious blood, as a lamb without spot and without blemish, even the blood of Christ" (1 Peter 1:18-19). In what way do we reach the blood of the lamb? Paul wrote, "Know ye not that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death..." (Romans 6:3-4). Accordingly, through baptism into the death of Christ we reach the redemption that our eternal Father promised.Image

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