Greetings In the Name of the Lord”
1 Corinthians 1:18 (NLT)
The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.
The season of the church year that we are now in is called Lent. For those who either didn’t grow up in the Church or are from a faith tradition that didn’t stress this season, it is a time encompassing the 40 days before Easter. During this time we focus on the sacrifice of Jesus and in doing so we often “give up something for Lent” to follow the example of Jesus who sacrificed everything for us. However, we also focus on the cross of Jesus. All religions of the world have a symbol that is associated with their religion. For example, the Jewish religion has as it’s symbol the Star of David, which is in the shape is of a hexagram, the compound of two equilateral triangles. The hexagram has been in use as a symbol of Judaism since the 17th century, with precedents in the 14th to 16th centuries in Central Europe, where the Shield of David was partly used in conjunction with the Seal of Solomon (the hexagram) on Jewish flags. The Islamic faith, on the other hand, uses the crescent, depicting a phase of the moon. As Christians, we too have a symbol that is associated with our community of faith, and that symbol is the cross. In the early days of the Church, however, this was not the case. As Bible scholar Craig Keener points out, the “Romans regarded crucifixion as a death appropriate for slaves; Jews also saw it as shameful (Deut. 21:23). Those viewed as “saviors” were normally gods, kings, wealthy benefactors or miracle workers. Roman society was built around power and status; power was concentrated in the male head of the household, in wealthy and aristocratic families, and so forth. Associating power with a crucified man—the epitome of weakness—thus made no more sense to ancients than it does to modern people outside Christ” (Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary – New Testament, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993). It wasn’t until about the sixth century that the cross became the universal symbol of the Christian faith. Another Bible scholar, John Stott, illustrates why the cross has become the symbol of the Church. He stated, “the fact that a cross became the Christian symbol, and that Christians stubbornly refused, in spite of the ridicule, to discard it in favor of something less offensive, can have only one explanation. It means that the centrality of the cross originated in the mind of Jesus himself” (John Stott, The Cross of Christ, 31). It was the focus of Jesus entire ministry, and in fact, his entire life on earth. Consequently, as Christians, it becomes our focus too. It shows the power of God, but also the lengths he was willing to go to save us from our. As the old song says, “At the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light, and the burden of my heart rolled away. It was there by faith I received my sight, and now I am happy all the day.” During this Lenten season let us focus on the cross of Christ and all its implications for our lives on earth.