Friday, November 14, 2008

The Meaning of the Cross

In the late 1990’s Nina was asked to cat and house sit in a Chicago suburban home. Nina enjoyed her stay their. She said it was a lovely home. However, nothing is perfect; there was a disturbing fixture in their living room that she could not figure out. It was a bronze cross with an incomplete bronze figure of a man. Years later she found out that the bronze on the cross was to cover a wooden cross. The man was added by the artist who had covered the cross with bronze to make the cross into a sculpture. The man depicted on the cross was African American.

The cross was originally used by the KKK, a white supremacist group in the USA, as a way of intimidation. They had planted the cross in the grounds of a mostly African American university and burnt it. The KKK said that the burning cross represents Christ as light. The same symbol had different meanings. We will see that it is the same in the Bible.

The sanctuary, its furnishing and the sacrifices all point to Christ and how He would die for us.. The Cross was the instrument used to kill Christ. But, to all groups the cross does not mean the same thing. To the Romans it was an instrument of death and torture for common criminals, run away slaves or seditionists. To the Jews it was a tree, and the crucified hung from the tree; which meant they were accursed of God according to Deuteronomy 21:22-23,

22"If a man has committed a sin worthy of death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree,

23 his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God), so that you do not defile your land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance. “

So, to the Jews the crucified Jesus hung from a tree accursed of God. As is says in Acts5:30,

Acts 5: 30" The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross”

Christ was accursed of God, but not for the reasons the Jews gave, but to fulfill Galatians 3: 13.

Galatians 3:13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us--for it is written, "CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE"—

This changes the meaning of the cross: from an instrument of torture and death to an instrument of atonement and redemption. What does the cross say in turn of God? God would rather die for us than to live with out us. This is how much God loves us. How much does He love us?

Let us read the answer in John 3:16

John 3:16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

How far did God go? Romans 5: 6-8

Romans 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

Romans 5:7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.

Romans 5:8 But God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

To which group do you belong? 1 Corinthians 1:18 summarizes the two groups well. It says, For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” The question still is, to which group do your belong?