What is the cross? It represents a lot of things to different people. The most important thing that
I can ask you to consider today is, what is the cross to you?
I. Our perspective A symbol - For some it's a symbol. It represents a religion. It's associated with people who
identify with Christianity. It's also a symbol that makes people think of peace, hope, and heaven.
That can hold true even for people who don't consider themselves Christians.
A decoration - For some it's a decoration. We expect to find crosses in and on church buildings,
funeral homes, and cemeteries. We wear crosses on our clothing and as jewelry, and tattoo them
on our bodies. Believers and nonbelievers alike choose to use the cross to decorate all kinds of
things. So much so that we can become somewhat numb to it.
An idol - The other end of the spectrum would be those for whom the cross has become an idol.
What began as devotion to Christ has become too focused on the thing He died on. Rather than
worship being centered on Jesus it has zeroed in on the cross. These people would have trouble
worshiping in a church where the cross isn't on display in just the right place.
II. What it really was
When the cross is first mentioned in the Bible none of those things were in view.
Jesus said that those who wanted to be His disciples would have to take up a cross and follow
Him. The picture that His audience would have had in their minds was an instrument of torture
The cross is thought to have been developed by the Persians, but perfected (if you want to put it
that way) by the Romans. They made sure that the person being crucified died, only after
suffering as much as possible. The Romans used that to their advantage and so crucifixions were
done publically in order to inspire fear in as many as possible.
The Bible describes the process this way (for reference see Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, and
Before going to the cross Jesus was flogged. A horrible beating that I won't describe, but by the
end of it Jesus would have been barely recognizable. After that Jesus was required to carry His
cross to the place of execution. This was the normal practice designed to humiliate the one being
crucified. In Jesus; case the sleep deprivation and beating were too much for Him and so
someone was pulled from the crowed to carry His cross for Him.
Once at Golgotha, or the Place of the Skull, Jesus and 2 others were nailed to their crosses and
lifted up into the air. At that point they were generally left to die from blood loss or suffocation.
Sometimes the process would be helped along by having their legs broken.
III. What Jesus did
I think we have a photoshopped view of the cross. It was horrific and messy. It was so bad that
it was nearly forbidden to crucify a Roman citizen, and crucifixion wasn't discussed in some
circles of society.
But that was the method God chose for our salvation. Through the cross Jesus accomplished all
He Displayed God's Love - Romans 5:8. Jesus said that there is no greater love than to give your
life for someone, and then He did it. Jesus displayed God's love by dying for us when we were
His enemies. You are loved, you are valued, and you have a place to belong. Jesus made that
possible on the cross.
He Freed us from Sin - Romans 6:14. Our rebellion separated us from God, but Jesus gave us
forgiveness and new life. We were credited with His righteousness and given the power to
overcome sin. It doesn't seem like it, but sin is a trap that leads to death. Jesus set us free on the
He Overcame Death - Romans 6:23. Eternal speaks to quality and quantity. Death and life both
speak to realities experienced here and after this life. Jesus overcame physical and spiritual
death on the cross and gave us life for here and forever.
So, what is the cross to you? I hope it is something that reminds you of what Jesus did for you.
Take up your cross and follow Him. Believe that Jesus has done all of this for you, and choose
to follow Him for the rest of your life.