What is the meaning of the cross?

Last updated on August 21, 2020

What is the meaning of the cross?

Crosses can be found all over the world! They can be seen on church steeples, books, t-shirts, etc. Some people wear cross necklaces around their necks or get crosses tattooed on their bodies. Yet, the cross is so much more than a logo or a trendy fashion statement.

The cross in earlier times

The cross, as we know it today, did not always have a positive connotation. In the days of Jesus, the Roman government would kill criminals by nailing them to a wooden cross. Crucifixion was (and is) one of the most painful ways to die and one of the cruelest forms of execution. Large nails would be driven through the criminal’s hands and feet. It was a slow death that often lasted over the span of several days. During this time the criminals would be mocked by passersby, as the crosses were often placed along public roads (see Matthew 27:39). Most of the victims died from a lack of oxygen because they could no longer pull themselves up to breathe.

Jesus died on a cross

Around 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ of Nazareth died on a Roman cross. It was unlike any other crucifixion before it, and there will never be another like it. Why? First, Jesus was innocent—He never committed any crime. In fact, Jesus never sinned at all (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 1:19). Second, while ever other person who died on a cross remained dead, Jesus did not. Three days later, Jesus rose from the grave (1 Corinthians 15:4)!

The perfect sacrifice

By dying on the cross, Jesus paid the penalty for the sins of the world and satisfied the wrath of God (Galatians 3:13-15; 1 John 2:2, 4:10). The Bible says that the “wages of sin is death,” and “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Romans 6:23; Hebrews 9:22). Someone or something has to die in order for there to be justice. In the Old Testament, the people of Israel sacrificed animals to cleanse themselves of their sins. When Jesus died on the cross He became the perfect sacrifice “once and for all” (Hebrews 10:12). We no longer have to make animal sacrifices. All we need to do now is put our faith in Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

Symbol of hope and victory

Because Jesus is now alive, the cross no longer stands as a symbol of death. It is now a symbol of hope and victory for all who believe. There is forgiveness for our sins! There is hope after death! Jesus died the death that we deserve so that we might have life and a future. Have you personally experienced this incredible gift?

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