I don’t know of many people today who would not think that the cross is beautiful. Even those who do not believe in its spiritual significance decorate their homes with them or wear jewelry in the form of the cross.
I, like many others, have a wall where crosses of different sizes, shapes, colorsand representing different countries form a focal point in my home. It is a beautifulwall that sort of evolved as crosses were given to me. I love to give crossesand I love to receive crosses.
Crosses are so beautiful that it is hard to imagine that they were once the structureutilized for the most humiliating and painful punishments inflicted for the mostheinous crimes. It would be like wearing a diamond studded replica of an electricchair on my neck, or carving a noose from wood, covered with flowers to hangon my wall. Diamonds or flowers don’t seem to make the sight of somethingused to inflict capital punishment something beautiful.
The symbol of the cross itself was transformed after Jesus died on its hard wood.No one would like to go back to the days of crucifixions. That kind of extremelycruel punishment inflicted by crucifixion makes the punisher seem suspect. Thecross’s transformation from an instrument of shame to a symbol of beautybegan after the most important crucifixion of all. It was only after the fullimpact of Jesus’ death on the cross was felt that we humans discoveredthat a cross is a thing of beauty.
It appears that Jesus meant for the cross to bring deep meaning all along. Hebegan speaking of our need to take up our cross before the disciples could fullygrasp the full extent of His meaning. The disciples must have thought Jesus waspreaching madness when He told them, If anyone would come after me, he mustdeny himself and take up his cross and follow me (Matthew 16:24). What couldhave been going through their minds? They had never seen a bedazzled cross decoratingchurches and Christian homes. All they knew of crosses was the horrid punishmentinflicted by the Roman government whom they detested. Surely they thought thatJesus must have some other meaning. Perhaps they concluded what he meant wasthat they needed to be willing to die for their faith.
But, that was not the case. Jesus meant it literally that we must take up ourcross daily and follow Him. What is the cross we pick up? It was only Jesus whowas sent to die on the cross itself. No one else could do that with the resultof justification for all who believe that Jesus’ death paid for their sin.What does Jesus mean when He tells you to pick up your cross?
He means for you to fulfill your purpose here on earth. He wants you to do whatyou are called to do to build His Kingdom. He is inviting you to follow Him toplaces only crosses can take you. How do you take up your cross and follow Him?