The Meaning of The Cross

The cross is central to and the symbol of the Christian faith. The cross captures the heart of the gospel message that in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we see the love of God and we are offered forgiveness of sins. Through the cross and resurrection of Christ, God reconciled the world to him. In Jesus action on the cross, God opened the way for all to come to him for healing and blessing. The cross embodies both the suffering of Christ and the triumph of God over sin and death. Through the cross, we are made at one with God.

This paradox of life in death and power through weakness is primary to Paul’s letters. In the first epistle to the Corinthians, Paul declares, “I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

It is important to know that the cross was a torture device and execution tool for the Romans. It was not always a good thing or loaded with the meaning it has for Christians. The cross was a symbol or hardcore violence of the state. That God would use such a horrid thing to bring about the redemption of the world through may say something about the nature of God or the mess we’d gotten ourselves in or both. I tend to think it is both. God used the tool that put fright in the hearts of many to redeem the world. God so loved the world that he forsook heaven died the death of a criminal, so that his strayed sons and daughters would not die, but live in and through Christ.

God died so that we might live.

That is the true meaning of the cross.

I wear a cross and for me it is a sign with Paul I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage that I may gain Christ and be found in him. (Philippians 3:8-9)

The cross is just not just something we assent to intellectually or wear around our neck. It is also something we live. It has been said rightly that we live in the shadow of the cross. Not only do we understand the cross, we also see it from both before and after Jesus. We know that the cross was a death stake, yet we also know that it is the very place where as Rob Bell says, “The cross is God’s way of taking away all of our accusations, excuses, and arguments. The cross is God taking on flesh and blood and saying, “Me too.” God not only knows and sees our pain our brokenness, but also has felt it himself. When we suffer, when we struggle God hears our cry and says me too. As we reach out to our brothers and sisters, we say me too.

The cross is something we know, affirm, and live.

The way of the cross as Jesus says in Matthew (16:24-26), “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”

The call to discipleship demands that one completely abandon the natural desire to seek comfort, fame, or power. We must submit our whole life to Jesus trusting that where Jesus leads us he will be there too. To obey and identify with Jesus even unto death, not simply to bear some particular burden imposed by the Lord, but to endure even to suffer for Christ is what we are called to. This is not to punish, but to test and refine our soul.

I need to submit my entire person and life to Jesus if I am to follow him. There is no half way. It’s all or nothing. To follow Jesus will cost me my entire life. I will leave the old ways of doing life and rise into new life through the Jesus way. My wants and desires will be terminated by the teachings of Jesus. To love everyone, serve my fellow man, do the will of God, and humble myself making myself an obedient example of what a Jesus follower really is. I will not use force on others to get my way. I will make myself least and last.

These are not easy or comfortable things to do. I cannot do it on my own. I will stumble, sometimes falling flat on my face. I need Jesus. I need to not just say that Jesus is Lord and Savior, but also live my life by this truth. I need to shape my whole around Jesus and his way. I have faith in Jesus and I know that by committing to him fully that He will walk with me and show me the ways I should live.

We must not just talk theology, but live it. True orthodoxy is found in loving God and loving others in real life concrete ways, ways that heal and not harm


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