February 13, 2009
The Cross: Symbol of Supreme Love
Countless people wear a cross because it symbolizes Christianity. But few fully grasp the depth of love that it represents.
The cross stands for what is arguably history’s most painful method of execution. Crucifixion usually began with two soldiers flogging the criminal from the front and back. They used a strap with three leather cords, each containing a piece of embedded bone that tore flesh to ribbons. No wonder Jesus fell and struggled to carry His cross after such treatment.
The soldiers then hammered a long square nail into the hands or wrists; this shape would heighten the already excruciating pain. Another nail was driven through the ankles into the wood. Raising the cross, executioners would then drop it into a hole in the ground, the “thud” further tearing flesh. In order to breathe, the convicted man had to push up on his bloody ankles.
Jesus was God, but He was also fully man. So He experienced the physical agony any human would feel at such brutality. On top of that, He felt emotional and spiritual anguish because the nation rejected Him and His disciples denied Him. Worst of all, when He took our sin upon Himself, the Father turned away (Matt. 27:46; 2 Cor. 5:21). Yet Jesus didn’t see Himself as a victim; He willingly offered His blood on our behalf and considered it a joy (Heb. 12:2). No greater love exists.
Take time to consider all that Jesus endured on the cross for your sake. As you begin to grasp the enormity of His sacrifice, thank Him for His boundless love.
Extra column—“On Love”
“Love is the fulfilment of all our works. There is the goal; that is why we run: we run toward it, and once we reach it, in it we shall find rest.”
—Augustine of Hippo
“If I put my own good name before the other’s highest good, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”
“But it is doubtless true, and evident from these Scriptures, that the essence of all true religion lies in holy love; and that in this divine affection, and an habitual disposition to it, and that light which is the foundation of it, and those things which are the fruits of it, consists the whole of religion.”
“A wise lover values not so much the gift of the lover as the love of the giver.”
—Thomas à Kempis
“When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now.”
—C. S. Lewis
“Joy is love exalted; peace is love in repose; long-suffering is love enduring; gentleness is love in society; goodness is love in action; faith is love on the battlefield; meekness is love in school; and temperance is love in training.”
—D. L. Moody
“Love is the greatest thing that God can give us for Himself is love: and it is the greatest thing we can give to God.”
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