What is the significance of the cross of Jesus Christ?
Jesus Christ died on a wooden cross in the month Nisan in A.D. 33. He died because some Jewish leaders plotted to pressure Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea, to put Him to death by crucifixion (Matthew 27:1, 11-20; Luke 23:13-24). The Roman soldiers had already beaten him and placed a crown of thorns on his head (John 19:1-5). After the sentence to crucify Christ was announced (Luke 23:20-25; John 19:12-16), Jesus was forced to carry the cross on which He was to die (John 19:17-18). He had to carry the very tool of His death. Later it became the symbol of His death.
They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha. John 19:17 (NASB)
The Cross Is Symbolic of Christ’s Death
History tells us that the wooden crosses had different designs. The question “Are there any historical facts about the cross?” illustrates the shape of several ancient crosses. What is the significance of the cross of Jesus Christ? The significance of the cross is not its design, construction, or purpose, but its symbolic meaning. It is the symbol of Jesus’ death. It is symbolic of the fact that Jesus died so that our sins can be forgiven.
Jesus’ death was prophesied thousands of years before.
Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know – this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. Acts 2:22-23 (NASB)
How did He die? With a crown of thorns crushed down on His head, His hands and feet were nailed to the cross (Matthew 27:29; Mark 15:22-25; John 19:1, 18; 20:25). After hours of anguish and pain, He chose to die when He knew that all of the prophecies had been fulfilled (Matthew 27:45-50; Mark 15:33-39; Luke 23:44-47; John 10:18; 19:28-30). Subsequently, a Roman spear was thrust into His side. It was there on that cross Jesus died for your sins and mine.
. . . and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. 1 Peter 2:24 (NASB)
That afternoon the sky turned dark (Matthew 27:45). When He died, the ground rippled with an earthquake and the bodies of some saints were resurrected (Matthew 27:50-52). Soon afterward His dead body was removed from the cross and buried in a cave.
The Cross Is Symbolic of Christ’s Resurrection
He died on a Friday and returned to life on Sunday.
When they had carried out all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the cross and laid Him in a tomb. But God raised Him from the dead . . . Acts 13:29-30 (NASB)
As a result, the cross today is a symbol of Jesus’ death and His resurrection. The Roman Catholic Church displays pictures of Jesus still hanging on the cross. It is a reminder of His suffering for us. They have left Him on the cross, but Protestants display pictures of an empty cross as a reminder that Jesus died and returned to life. He is not a dead Savior. He is alive!
The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. Acts 5:30 (NASB)
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
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