The cross is symbolic of suffering and Death. The historical account tells us that about the 6th century BC until the 4th century AD, the cross was an instrument of execution that resulted in death by the most torturous and painful of ways. In crucifixion a person was either tied or nailed to a wooden cross and left to hang until dead. Death would be slow and excruciatingly painful; in fact, the word excruciating literally means “out of crucifying.” However, because of Christ and His death on the cross, the meaning of the cross today is completely different.
This same account gives further details on the subject: In Christianity, the cross is the intersection of God’s love and His justice. Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). The reference to Jesus as the Lamb of God points back to the institution of the Jewish Passover in Exodus 12. The Israelites were commanded to sacrifice an unblemished lamb and smear the blood of that lamb on the doorposts of their homes. The blood would be the sign for the Angel of Death to “pass over” that house, leaving those covered by blood in safety. When Jesus came to John to be baptized, John recognized Him and cried, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29), thereby identifying Him and God’s plan for Him to be sacrificed for sin.
One might ask why Jesus had to die in the first place. This is the over-arching message of the Bible—the story of redemption. God created the heavens and the earth, and He created man and woman in His image and placed them in the Garden of Eden to be His stewards on the earth. However, due to the temptations of Satan (the serpent), Adam and Eve sinned and fell from God’s grace. Furthermore, they have passed the curse of sin on to their children so that everyone inherits their sin and guilt. God the Father sent his one and only Son into the world to take on human flesh and to be the Savior of His people. Born of a virgin, Jesus avoided the curse of the fall that infects all other human beings. As the sinless Son of God, He could provide the unblemished sacrifice that God requires. God’s justice demanded judgment and punishment for sin; God’s love moved Him to send His one and only Son to be the propitiation for sin.
The Cross shows us the depths of our sins. We don’t realize what sin is in the sight of God–how deeply it offends Him and how it separates us from Him. Before Jesus went to the cross, He prayed in Gethsemane. He was agonizing, sorrowful. He prayed to God, “If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39, NKJV). He looked into the cup, and what did He see in that cup? He saw the sins of the whole world! He saw murder, war, racial prejudice, adultery, lying and fraud.
There’s a penalty to sin. The wages of sin is death. The Cross says to the world, “You are a sinner. You are under the sentence of death.” That means spiritual death, eternal death. But not only does the Cross show us our sins, it also shows us the love of God. God is saying tonight, “I love you. No matter what you have done–how bad you have been–I love you.” And the death of Christ is what makes the Good News. God is saying to you, “I love you. I forgive you because of what Jesus did on the cross.”
The Roman cross of crucifixion is a reminder of Jesus’ death and return to life. He died so that those who believe in Jesus Christ can be declared to be holy and spend eternity with God (Romans 5:1). All that God asks is that we believe in Jesus Christ and want our lives to be changed (John 3:16; Romans 10:9-11).
If you look critically at the wondrous cross you will see in it nothing but common wood. The cross is best discerned through repentant tears. – M. Lloyd-Jones
The Cross is a pardon; it’s a reprieve from death for people who don’t deserve it. None of us deserves to be saved. None of us deserves to go to heaven. But God is love (1 John 4:8), and God is grace and mercy. “Grace” means something that you don’t deserve, something that God just gives you. God offers you a pardon today. He offers you forgiveness; He offers you assurance of Heaven if you die. And that can happen right here tonight. “God commended His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, KJV).
Further Analysis from “Elders Pen to The Congregation”. OFORIKROM CHURCH OF CHRIST. Ghana
And when they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. But Jesus was saying, ‘Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing…… (Luke 23:33-49).
Death is a common thing. Everyone dies sooner or later. Even death for the innocent ones is common. It is all too common in our time for babies to be put to death even though they have not known good or evil. Death by execution is not uncommon. Sometimes multitudes of people are executed for nothing more than their race or for their political beliefs. What there is there about the death of Jesus Christ on a cross which makes it stand out from all other deaths which have occurred
Jesus walked this earth during a period of time when the Roman Empire was the dominant force. The Romans means of executing criminals was to hang them on a cross, which was nothing more than two pieces of rugged lumber nailed together so that they would intersect. The ones being executed were commonly beaten before the execution to lessen the time it would take for them to die. Then they were nailed with their hands and feet to the cross and were allowed to hang there until death came. It was never a quick or easy way to die. It was not uncommon for one to hang for two or three days before a welcome death finally came to end their physical suffering.
What made the cross of Jesus stand out?
HE WAS DYING FOR US, NOT FOR HIMSELF.
Jesus had walked among the people of that day, healing their sick, raising their dead, cleansing the lepers, and feeding the hungry. He had gone about teaching them how to change their lives and how to please God. He had not hurt anyone. He was full of mercy and compassion.
His cry to the world was “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my Load is light” (Matthew 18:28-30).
He seems to have been the very One everyone would want to keep alive; yet the crowds who had been loved and healed by Him led Him to the Roman governor and made accusations against Him to have Him put to death. When Pilate saw that He was innocent and tried to find a way to release Him, they cried out as a mob, “Let Him be crucified!.... Let Him be crucified!” (Matthew 27:22, 23). They even yelled, “His blood be on us and on our children!” (Matthew: 27:15)
When this brutal mob had beaten Christ and mocked, slapped and spit upon Him and finally led Him to a place called Calvary to crucify Him, Jesus cry was “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). From a human standpoint, he had every reason to bring down the angels and destroy His executioners for their sin, but Jesus allowed Himself to be crucified to offer us forgiveness of our sins. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
God is a just God. As a just God, He has to punish sin. All of us are guilty of sin, but God, in His great love, wanted us to be saved from our sin. They only way He could be just and still offer us forgiveness was to take One who had gone through our temptations but had not fallen into sin, and then to punish Him as though He was guilty of sin, to be the substitute for all who are guilty.
Jesus, the innocent One, was dying as though He were guilty so those of us who are guilty might be treated by God as though we were innocent.
That mob did not deserve forgiveness, yet Jesus prayed for them to be forgiven because they did not understand what they were doing.
IT IS NOT TOO LATE
Being crucified with Jesus that day were two thieves, one of each side. They were being put to death for their real crimes. At first both of them joined in with the crowd to shout at Jesus and throw insults at Him. Then one of them changed. He challenged his fellow criminal by saying “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deed; but this man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:40,41) Then, as both of them were hanging on crosses, being executed, he cried to Jesus, “Jesus, remember me when you come in Your Kingdom!” And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with me in Paradise”
You too, may be guilty of some horrible wrongs in your life. As long as there is life, there is the ability to turn your life around and come to God. Jesus is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him (Hebrews 7:25). His forgiving power is so great that He could forgive the one who crucified Him. He could forgive the woman caught in the act of adultery. He could forgive Saul of Tarsus, who had taken part in the stoning of Stephen, one of the early followers of Christ. As a Christian He can forgive you too. No matter what you have done, no matter how deep the failure, if you will turn from your sins in repentance and come to Christ.
GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL
One other thing must be noted about the cross of Christ which makes it stand out for all time. When Jesus was dying, Darkness fell on the earth for three hours. The veil of the old Testament temple was torn in two, to symbolize the fact that the Old Testament law was being taken away as the law for men. It symbolized the reality that there was no longer a wall to stand between people and God. He has opened the way unto Himself. Jesus’ flesh became the very means of entrance into the presence of God. The veil which separated the Jews from all the other races of people was torn down. Now God’s blessings are open to all men everywhere.
Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit” (Luke 23:46). Then He died.
The world today often seems to be running on its own energy. It seems as if Satan is having his way. It seems as if sin is taking all the controls. We need to remember that in the very hour when the world turn dark, God was in control. He always will be.
If we are to stand on the side that ultimately wins the war between good and evil, we need to be certain that our lives are right with God of the universe, who gave His Own Son to die the death of the cross so that we can be saved. Today, you should commit your spirit into the hands of God, the Father, by putting your faith and trust in Him, turning from your sins in repentance so that your sins can be forgiven.