The Cross is one of the key symbols of Christianity. However, despite being widely used, the power of the cross has been lost with modernity. In Roman times, the cross was associated with crucifixion and symbolised a gruesome death.
The fact that the cross is how Christianity is often represented should constantly remind us that our faith is about Jesus and that he underwent incredible suffering to save us. To save you and me.
Yet as crucifixion is, thankfully, no longer carried out, many of us do not always realise or remember the true impact that the cross has had on us.
In Christianity the cross has a number of meanings. It brings redemption and reconciliation, it is a source of justification and a sign of victory.
Redemption can be defined in two ways: it is ‘the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil’ or ‘the action of regaining or gaining possession of something in exchange for payment, or clearing a debt’.
The first definition seems more fitting for discussions of Christianity but I think that they are both relevant for discussing the meaning of the cross. Jesus dying on the cross, God has given us a way to become free from the idols and ungodly things which have a hold on our lives. He wants to help us to break free from bad relationships, anxiety, addictions and all the troubles which plague our lives. The cross also represents God gaining His people again; from the day that Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge humanity has been separated from God, Jesus’ death and subsequent resurrection symbolise that the debt of our sin has been cleared and we can belong to God once more.
The cross means freedom.
Reconciliation is about restoring relationships. The cross allowed the relationship between God and humans to be restored, it brought us back into God’s favour and set things right between us. Sin was no longer a barricade between us and God. The cross has also enabled us to restore relationships between ourselves and those around us; we are able to be friends with God and He helps us to work on building up positive and worthwhile relationships with those around us.
The cross means friendship.
Justification is the action of showing something to be right or reasonable. The cross therefore physically proves that our sin has been washed away, that the price we deserve to pay for all the wrong we have done has already been paid. The cross literally means that Jesus took our place.
The cross means forgiveness.
Victory, perhaps the most exciting meaning that the cross holds, is an act of defeating an enemy or opponent in a battle, game, or other competition. For Christians, the cross means that Satan was finally defeated, good conquered evil. It may appear that Jesus lost as he is the one who died but it is because he then rose again, that death was defeated and overcome. In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Aslan defeats the White Witch by becoming weaker and this is what Jesus does. His power is perfect in weakness.
The cross means finality.
The cross is so much more than a symbol to wear on a necklace or to put on a presentation when talking about religion. The cross is powerful; it is a sign of friendship, freedom, forgiveness and the fact that the ultimate battle with evil has been finished.
It is through the cross and all that it stands for that we are saved.