Today: Thursday, October 17, 2019


More about the cross  

The Red Cross is familiar to us as a sign of care and concern for others, especially in areas of conflict (amongst the Moslem population it has been changed to the Red Crescent, but the meaning is the same). Whether friend or foe, the symbol guarantees sacrificial love for others. The Victoria Cross, a British military medal, has a similar significance of sacrificial love, where someone voluntarily lays down their life for someone else. And on Remembrance Day in Britain, wooden crosses are placed near war memorials to mark lives laid down in sacrifice.

All these references stem from the cross of Jesus. The word is used to describe not only the wooden structure to which Jesus was nailed, but also the physical and spiritual suffering he experienced at the hands of his captors, and during those long six hours from nine o’clock in the morning to three o’clock in the afternoon, as he hung on the cross itself.

Christians believe that God is a god of justice, as well as of mercy and love. There is a moral order in the universe, and this is reflected to some degree throughout the penal systems exercised by governments. Punishments are expected to fit the crimes. We know, however, that many wrong-doers go unpunished, and innocent people sometimes suffer. Where is the justice in that? Scripture says that man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgement. This is the judgement that no one will escape.

Do we all, therefore, have to face the consequences of our wrong-doing? God found a way to express his justice, mercy and love: he is determined to physically accept the punishment we deserve.

In order to achieve this, God came in the person of Jesus Christ. Since he was without sin, he could sacrifice himself for our sins, and he did this at tremendous cost to himself. On the cross he cried out, “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?” In a strange and mysterious way, he experienced the separation from the Father which sin causes. Jesus faced the cross because of his unswerving obedience to the Father’s will. Jesus’ suffering was exemplary, in that he showed us how we should face trials and suffering.

But do not for one moment think of a loving son pacifying a wrathful father! All three persons of the Godhead planned this together for our benefit, and Jesus offered himself up as a sacrifice.

One of the last words Jesus uttered on the cross before he died was ‘finished’. By his death he completed everything necessary to bring us forgiveness: the sacrifice for our sins—through which alone we may find acceptance before God. All we have to do is believe this truth, and ask for his forgiveness for all the wrong things in our lives.

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