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What Is the Meaning of the Cross?

What Is the Meaning of the Cross?

The Many Meanings of the Cross

The Cross is a great contradiction. A simple upright post with a transverse bar used crucifixion. It's a symbol of death, but so much more. Death and life, hate and love, violence and peace, accusation and forgiveness, sin and purity, brokenness and wholeness, all is lost yet everything is gained, destruction and restoration, defeat and victory. Once the cruelest form of execution, yet now it is a symbol of abundant life.

The Cross means many things to many people. Some have it displayed on their mantel, others wear it around their neck. What is the Cross?

1. The Cross means love.

Christ died for sinners. He died for people who had lost their way. He did not die because it was forced upon him. It was a choice. A choice made in love.

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8).

Jesus still loves sinners. He came and gave his life for them. The message of the Cross remains a gift of love to those undeserving. Above all, the Cross is a symbol of love.

2. The Cross is personal.

In most religions, people strive to reach deity. Christianity is the only faith where God has reached down to us. Our response to such a God is to know him personally. Jesus died so that he could know you. It was personal.

I want to know Christ... I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death (Philippians 3:10).

3. The Cross is willful humility.

Christ’s death was an act of his will.  In Philippians 2:7-8, Paul states that Jesus humbled himself in obedience and died a criminal death on the Cross. Sometimes we mistakenly think that he made that decision as God. Jesus came to the conclusion to die for humanity as a human. He willed his flesh, mind, and emotions to die on the Cross.

And by that will (that is the will of Jesus as a human being, not the will of God), we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (Hebrews 10:10).

Christ hung on the cross on purpose. He could choose to live as he pleased, but he chose to give his life for our sake. Galatians 2:20 says that we have been crucified with Christ – past tense. As Christians, we are to be dead to our will, as Christ was. Our life’s prayer should be, “Not my will, Yours be done.” And just like Jesus, it is our responsibility to act on our prayer. Being in the will of God is not a passive thing. It is an act of the will.

4. The Cross is prophetic.

There are many prophecies of the Cross in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. From the beginning of time, God has been planning to rescue humanity from the clutches of evil by horrific death on a cross.

Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed (Isaiah 53:4-5).

He was disfigured, tormented, completely abused. But not only was his punishment prophesied, so was our atonement. Pierced for sin. Beaten for wholeness. Whipped for healing. A divine exchange. Blessings for curses, completeness for brokenness, unrighteousness for holiness. The redemption was prophesied.

5. The Cross is final.

"Now I saw in my dream, that the highway up which Christian was to go, was fenced on either side with a wall, and that wall was called Salvation. Up this way, therefore did burdened Christian run, but with great difficulty, because of the load on his back.

He ran thus till he came at a pace somewhat ascending; and upon that place stood a cross, and a little below, in the bottom, a sepulchre. So I saw in my dream that just as Christian came up with the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble, and so continued to do till it came to the mouth of the sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more." -Pilgrim's Progress

So many gaze at the Cross and yet hold on to past hurt, pain, and problems. They don’t belong on your back any longer – Jesus has taken them on his. The debt is paid. Look to the Cross and receive your salvation.

And they sang a new song with these words:
 “You are worthy to take the scroll
 and break its seals and open it.

For you were killed, and your blood has ransomed people for God
 from every tribe and language and people and nation.

And you have caused them to become God’s kingdom and his priests.
 And they will reign on the earth.”

(Revelation 5:9-10, NLT)

Redeemer, Lamb of God, he is worthy. Thank you for the Cross, Lord.

Sarah Coleman is an Australian author and communicator. Her books include Single Christian Female and Make Yourself Amazing. She is passionate about the Kingdom of God. She also loves being a wife and mother to two boys. To read more of Sarah's thoughts go to sarahcoleman.com.au.

How Does the Cross Show Love?

Isaiah 49:16 says [God] loves you so much that He engraved your name on the palm of His hand. Matthew 10:30 says He loves you so much that He knows how many hairs are on your head. Psalms 56:8 says He loves you so much that He saves your tears in a bottle. Jeremiah 31:3 says He loves you with an everlasting love.

God's love is very personal toward you. It doesn't matter where you've been, it doesn't matter what you've done, it doesn't matter what you've experienced - God loves you. It doesn't matter what you have thought about yourself or what other people may have said about you - God loves you. This is what God says about you! You are honored, you are precious in His eyes (Isaiah 43:4). Isn't that an amazing thing?

Most often when the Bible attempts to express God's love, it makes a beeline for the cross of Jesus Christ. The cross is God's statement of just how much He loves you. When you think of the immensity of God's love, the first thing the Bible often asks us to do is to consider the price that was paid.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:10)

What makes this love so amazing is that it is highlighted against the backdrop of a debt that each one of us owes. At the core of God's being is His holiness. In order for us to have any kind of relationship with Him, we have to find a way for our sins to be forgiven. Problem is, there's nothing we can do to accomplish that - it's too big of a debt. We can't buy God's favor, we can't work for it, we can't ever be good enough to earn it. God's holiness demanded that sin be paid for, and then God's love found a way. I proclaim this great love to you today. God loves you with an everlasting love that words fail to describe.

Excerpted from "Jesus Loves Me . . . This I Know" by Walk in the Word Ministries (used by permission).

Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Alicia Quan


This article is part of our larger Holy Week and Easter resource library centered around the events leading up to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We hope these articles help you understand the meaning and story behind important Christian holidays and dates and encourage you as you take time to reflect on all that God has done for us through his son Jesus Christ!

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When is Lent? When Does Lent Start and End?
What is Ash Wednesday?
What Is Palm Sunday?
What is Maundy Thursday?
What Is Good Friday?

What Is Easter?
What is the Holy Week?
Easter Prayers