Archive for April 15, 2014

What is the most common religious symbol in the world? In our part of the world, the most common religious symbol is the cross. You see the cross on churches. You see the cross in jewellery. Athletes cross themselves sometimes during sporting events. What does the cross mean to you?

cross_light_bronzeIt wasn’t always such a popular symbol. During the days of Jesus, the cross was a symbol of shame and embarrassment, a symbol of warning and terror. The Roman empire used the cross as a means of execution. A pole would be sunk into the ground, and if you were sentenced to crucifixion, you would be fastened to a crossbar and hung onto that pole. The cross was only reserved for slaves and robbers and assassins and rebels. As a general rule, Roman citizens wouldn’t be executed on a cross, because it was too shameful of a way to die.

What does the cross symbolize to you? For one man in the early first century, the cross began as a symbol of death, but became a symbol of life and forgiveness and relief, and that man was Jesus!

When Jesus was hung on the cross, he was lowered to the level of a criminal. He was brought down to the same level the 2 criminals he was being crucified with. Many people mocked Christ, including the two criminals. asking Christ why he didn’t get himself out of the situation. Why did Christ not prove to them then and there that He was God’s Son?

He didn’t, because he didn’t have to. Christ had been preaching for years by this time and had demonstrated on many occasions that he was God’s son. Christ had to die on the cross because we, God’s people had sinned, and had rebelled against Him. Christ was punished for our sins.

Even to the end Christ was willing to offer forgiveness to those who repented and sought forgiveness – One of the criminal who was crucified with Christ confessed his sins to Christ. Even though Jesus was being crucified he  showed mercy to that criminal as he said, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Jesus gives to this man an unconditional pardon, completely forgiving him, and gave him the hope of eternal life. Why? Because, at that very moment, Jesus was dying for that criminal’s sins, and every other person’s sins on the cross.

What amazing love, that as Jesus suffers for this man, but still offers him forgiveness, an unconditional pardon, the sure hope of eternal life. It’s even more amazing than that, because Jesus does the same thing for you!

So what does the cross mean to you? I hope by focusing on the criminal who sought forgiveness from Christ during his last hours, and was unconditionally offered pardon and eternal life, shows you just how forgiving God is, and ultimately just how much He wants you to seek Him.

I pray that whenever you think of the cross, it will always remind you of Jesus Christ, his sacrifice for you, and the salvation that is yours because of him.