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The Cross As A Desirable Symbol

In our world today the cross is an esteemed symbol. One of the favorite hymns of my parents’ generation was “The Old Rugged Cross.”  Many people wear crosses, hang them on walls in their homes, display them in stained glass windows and make the sign of the cross when praying.

the cross of Christ changed everything

That isn’t how those who lived in Jesus’ day thought of it. For them the very word “cross” was ugly and distasteful.  Cicero, a Roman philosopher and politician, decried the crucifixion of a Roman citizen, exclaiming, “The very word ‘cross’ should be far removed not only from the person of a Roman citizen but from his thoughts, his eyes and his ears.”

The actual word was so unpleasant Cicero suggested one not even think about it. I could illustrate this by comparing the crucifixion to something we consider disgusting. If I were to do so the chances are it would upset you. You might even get mad at me.

I think I read somewhere that the goal in writing blog posts isn’t to get your readers mad at you, so I won’t do that. Instead I’ll ask that you believe me that the modern view of the cross is the opposite of what it was in Jesus’ day.

The Cross’ Power To Change

Christians today talk of the power of the cross. In the mind of the ancients, it was the opposite. The one who hung upon it was humiliated by the political power who put him there. Jesus looked powerless to those who watched the crucifixion.  People scoffed and taunted Jesus as powerless because He hung there Mark 15:29-30. The cross itself seemed to them to be His defeat. But it wasn’t. That’s why in 1 Corinthians 1:18  Paul says,

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

What Jesus did on the cross was transformational. Jesus used one of the most disgusting symbols of human power to demonstrate God’s powerful love. Can you imagine other methods of execution as symbols of love? Does the image of a rope hanging from a gallows or an electric chair evoke feelings of love and compassion? No. The cross was the same until Jesus changed it.

Yes, Jesus’ death on the cross was brutal. Yet the cross is no longer a universal symbol of terror and political domination. It’s now a symbol of God’s love.

The transformation happened because what Jesus did on the cross changed everything! The power of Jesus’ cross is greater than the power of evil in people’s hearts.

In the next few posts I’ll be talking about what changed when Jesus died on the cross and how that can change our lives. Today think about how amazing it is that God transformed a symbol of brutality into a symbol of love. He did it because He loves you. That is worth thinking about today!

What do you think? I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a question or comment below.

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Ward Cushman

My journey of faith started when I was nine years old when I realized that Jesus died and rose again to pay for my sins. At the age of thirteen I felt the call of God on my life for ministry.

I have been fortunate to work in the marketplace for over ten years and in full-time Christian ministry for over thirty years.

My passion is to teach God's Word in such a way that it is easy to understand and so that God uses it to bring about life change in those who hear it.

It is my greatest joy to see God work through me to produce fruit for His glory!