To understand the significance of The Cross one must imagine the horrific scene on Calvary hill. Calvary, also called Golgotha (meaning skull), was immediately outside Jerusalem’s walls. Calvary is where Jesus hung, where He was crucified – His earthly body nailed to a man-made cross.
In those days of Israel a cross was a means by which convicted criminals were put to death. Crucifixion was perfected by the Roman empire as a manner of execution; the convicted humiliatingly stripped bare then nailed to a cross outside the city walls. They hung in that specific area, until dead, for all who enter the city to gawk and beware.
Jesus, the only sinless man in all the world, was falsely found guilty of a crime and sentenced to an excruciating death on a cross.
Matthew 27:45-50 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lemasabachthani?” (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.” Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.” And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
Though the Son of God could have saved Himself, Jesus instead chose to follow God’s plan and be the savior of the world!
Jesus allowed Himself to be hung on a cross – a cross made by man – to save man from our sin.
While many witnessed Jesus’ execution, certain followers of Jesus became disheartened toward the man they believed would save them from Rome. They accepted His crucifixion as their defeat. They allowed themselves to believe Jesus was not the king they previously understood Him to be. Most of His closely knit disciples abandon His crucifixion in fear. From His original intimate group of twelve, only John stood at the foot of Jesus as He hung as a spectacle to die.
It was not until the moment Jesus’ body succumbed to earthly death, giving up His spirit, that people, including many doubters witnessing the gruesome event at Calvary, began to understand something magnificent was happening.
Even earth knew Jesus was the Son of God for it shook and its rocks split.
Matthew 27:51-54 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people. When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
Upon His death Jesus descended to the the realm of the dead and preached to the ungodly.
1 Peter 3:18-20a For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits—to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built.
Jesus died on a cross, but three days later He arose! Jesus arose from the realm of the dead!
Mark 16:9-14 When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it. Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either. Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.
It is now, after Jesus’ resurrection, that a man-made cross on which Jesus’ holy body died, turns into: The Cross. The Cross, the holiest of symbols. Originally created as a means to carry out torturous death now represents redemption from sin. Jesus justified The Cross, He made it righteous. Before Jesus, a mechanism of death…after Jesus, a symbol of hope, faith, eternal love. A symbolic reference to both Jesus and Christians.
Those disciples who abandoned Jesus before He was crucified — Peter in particular — they now believe! It was while the disciples gathered together, in a locked room, they realized the power of The Cross once Jesus appeared among them. This wood that represented death is now offers life.
The Cross is the resurrection of Christ.
The disciple’s became forever changed. After Jesus ascended, eventually all but John lost their lives while sharing The Good News for the sake of The Cross. None ever abandoned Jesus again.
A cross is itself not power, but The Cross is the means by which Jesus’ sacrificial death turns death into eternal life for all who believe Him.
The Cross offers us Jesus’ love. A love so deep it remains unmatched. It’s good to reflect upon Jesus’ sacrificial love so that we many remember some of the love The Cross offers us:
- God’s mercy
- God’s grace
- conquers death
- mends broken hearts
- removes fear
- offers hope
- provides peace
May you remember the meaning of The Cross as you enjoy a blessed Easter.
ARE YOU A FOLLOWER OF JESUS?
If you’re uncertain you’ve ever invited Jesus into your heart – now is the perfect time. Pray this sinner’s prayer found at Gotquestions.com. Only through Jesus Christ can you receive the redemptive hope that He alone offers.
“God, I know that I am a sinner. I know that I deserve the consequences of my sin. However, I am trusting in Jesus Christ as my Savior. I believe that His death and resurrection provided for my forgiveness. I trust in Jesus and Jesus alone as my personal Lord and Savior. Thank you Lord, for saving me and forgiving me! Amen!”
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