It’s amazing how many people wear a cross as a necklace or an earring and yet have little, or no, Christian faith. The cross was first worn by early Christians to show to others they were followers of Jesus and to remind them of His death and the sacrifice He made on the cross on their behalf.
We’ve become so accustomed to crosses worn as jewellery that we are not shocked by the fact that it was actually an instrument of execution! I know … take a deep breath – but that’s exactly what a cross is.
Cicero, the Roman philosopher and politician, described crucifixion as: ‘The most cruel and hideous of tortures’. Indeed, it was one of the cruellest forms of execution known to mankind. It was abolished in AD 315 because even the Romans considered it too inhumane.
How would you respond if Pandora started producing electric chair earrings; or lethal injection cufflinks or a hangman’s noose necklace? Would you wear one of those? I guess not … and you wouldn’t be best pleased to receive one as a gift either.
But why it is that the cross is a symbol of the Christian faith? Why isn’t it a cradle to remind us about the much-loved Christmas story? Or a scroll to remind us of Jesus’ amazing teaching? Or a crown, to remind us of Jesus’ claim to be a King?
No – it’s a cross, to remind us of His death. Whilst many people may want to remember Jesus’ life, the Christian remembers His death. The cross reminds us why Jesus died. The hymn writer Isaac Watts puts it this way:
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God:
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down:
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of Nature mine,
That were an offering far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all!
The cross is only wondrous, of course, if Jesus rose from the dead – and that’s what Christian’s believe. The writer and Atheist, Richard Dawkins, wrote: “If the resurrection is not true Christianity becomes null and void.” And for once I agree with him!!
Jesus’ death on the cross only makes sense if He rose from the dead and that’s why Easter is such a significant celebration in the Christian Church and why following Jesus is life changing for those who do because it means He was able to deliver on all the promises He made during his life.
May I extend an invitation to join with us here at Emmanuel, or any of the great churches in Billericay, as we journey through Holy Week from: the Praise of Palm Sunday; Poignancy of Maundy Thursday; Sorrow of Good Friday; the Fun of the Family Time Easter Egg Hunt on Holy Saturday and the Joy of Celebration on Easter Day.
May God’s richest blessing be upon you as you prepare to celebrate all that Easter brings.
This is a copy of my article for the April 2019 edition of the Billericay ‘Around Town Magazine’