By Not Known
The Cross as a method of execution is mercifully no longer with us. Nor are the public executions of Jesus’ day. It was a particularly brutal and tortuous form of death. In one way as an event it is something we can only look back to in history, but in another way it is something we have to live with every day, because Jesus told us to take up our cross daily and follow him. Our danger is that we reduce the cross just to a comforting religious symbol, which we place at the front of the church or wear as a piece of jewellery around our necks. In so doing we insulate ourselves from the reality and experience of the cross.
The cross is in reality a very disturbing and challenging symbol to be at the heart of our faith and worship. If we had the modern equivalent of a hangman’s noose, an electric chair, or a firing squad on the communion table we would probably be up in arms! The cross can become too comfortable for us.
The cross of Jesus confronts us with a double-sided truth. It is similar to the way we use the “X” symbol. For the older ones of us it will remind us of school and the crosses we received in our exercise books. It was the mark that something was wrong and needed to be corrected. Apparently today in England it is not politically correct to put a cross to indicate a mistake! But in my day it was a definite mistake. And the cross of Jesus declares first something is seriously wrong, both with us and our world. We are not the nice people we pretend to be. We are rather nasty people who live in a rather nasty world that needs a lot of correction. And the death of Jesus is the only way we can really be changed and saved from our sin and from ourselves.
The “X” symbol, however, is also used in a very different way. It is used as an expression of love. If we write a love letter or message or send greetings to our family members we often put an “X” at the end. I have a teacher friend who taught at primary level, and she had one child who had great difficulty with spelling and my friend was forced to put rather a lot of crosses on her work. She was rather surprised when the little girl came up to her with a smiling beaming face. Then she burst out “Thank you teacher, you’ve given me so many kisses”!
In a child-like way, it was the other side of the cross – the Easter side. It was the ultimate expression of God’s love, a love that triumphed over evil, hatred and injustice.
The cross stands, therefore, both for all the wrongs and evil of the world and all the love and goodness of God. Easter is the approving “X” of God’s love. Last week’s election in church members were asked to mark with an “X” if they approved the nomination. Let’s not leave it a one-sided love. Let us respond to God’s love in the words of Isaac Watts: “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all”.