I have a tattoo of a cross on my back and one on my shoulder. I also have both a silver and a gold cross on chains. The cross is one of the most used symbols in all the world. It is interchanged as symbols of both life and death, horror and beauty. Perhaps nothing in the world has been more misunderstood than the cross, specifically the cross Christ died on.
For most people around the world, this is the beginning of Holy Week when we pause, reflect on and remember the events that are central to our beliefs and salvation. But in a world of seeker friendly churches and feel good messages, many go right to the empty grave and ignore the important significance of the cross. Our church fathers had it right singing hymns such as The Old Rugged Cross, The Cross Made a Difference, At Calvary, Near the Cross and many more. But the message of the cross is not popular in many churches-it doesn’t preach well, it does’t make you feel good.
Christmas is one of my favorite holidays, but Jesus didn’t come to inspire beautiful glittery cards and holiday music. Instead he came to be sacrificed on the cruel cross to cover once and for all the sins of mankind from Genesis to his eventual return for us. It’s a beautiful mystery too grand to fully comprehend. Another beautiful hymn, How Can it Be That He Would Die for Me, remains a prevailing question today. But consider this nugget of gospel truth-God is all knowing. He didn’t send Jesus to die for us IN SPITE of knowing how badly we sinned against him, rather BECAUSE he was fully aware of our sins! ”While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. He died for the government officials who gave into the demands of the people. He died for the Pharisees who convicted him through a false trial. He died for the Roman guards who flogged him nearly to death, plucked out his beard and hammered the nails into his hands and feet and raised the cross. There is no one and no deed that is so horrific or too great that the cross does not cover! As those who have been forgiven from our sins we should embrace and cling to the beautiful horror of the cross.
Because of the cross we have healing; because of the cross our sins are forever removed from us and remembered no more. Because of the cross we now have direct access to God who desires above all else that we develop an intimate relationship with him. The Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians ” I want nothing more than for you to accept Jesus Christ and him crucified.” It’s great and right that we celebrate this Sunday the empty tomb. There is no grave we can visit because he is risen. But don’t be too quick to disregard the significance the cross plays in the resurrection. Rather reflect on the fact that Jesus took on the punishment of sin, which is death, so that we may be called children of God! It’s a mystery too great to for the human mind to comprehend. We don’t need to, we simply accept it with a grateful heart of humility and pass the light on to the next person. Be blessed this Easter.