How can something so vile as a cross used to murder millions be considered beautiful? Because at a set time in history, the selfless Son of God freely gave His life on that instrument to redeem mankind.
John 19:17-20 LSB “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.18 There they crucified Him, and with Him two other men, one on either side, and Jesus in between.19 And Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written, “JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” 20 Therefore many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and in Greek.”
Jesus carried His cross, was nailed to His cross, and died on His cross.
Hebrews 12:1-2 LSB “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, laying aside every weight and the sin which so easily entangles us, let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Jesus gave His life on the cross; He bridged the gap between sin and salvation so that we could call ourselves sons of God. The sinless life of Jesus magnifies our sin, not to condemn us but to convict us so that we might be drawn to a place of repentance and leave our sins for salvation found in the shed blood of Jesus.
The cross was a brutal instrument of murder, yet Jesus turned it into a beautiful symbol of reconciliation. Unfortunately, the cross has fallen out of fashion in the modern church. Buildings don’t display it, preachers don’t preach it, and worse yet, rappers wear it and don’t understand its power.
1 Corinthians 1:18 LSB “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.”
What Jesus went through wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t nice, it was horrific. But because Jesus gave His life, we can be right with God. Our sin isn’t pretty, it is ugly, it is despicable, and our sin kept us from fellowship with God. Romans tells us that no man is good and that our righteousness is as filthy rags1. We need the blood to cover our sin. We need the blood and the water that flowed from His side to cover our sin and wash it away. We are new creations by what Jesus did on the cross.
The cross by itself is ugly. Certain Christian uses of the cross have been ugly, murdering Jews in the name of Christ and under the banner of the cross. That is absolute wickedness. The true beauty of the cross is that we have access to God and that the wall between Jew and Gentile has been torn down.
Ephesians 2:8-22 LSB “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. 11 Therefore, remember that formerly you—the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— 12 remember that you were at that time without Christ, alienated from the citizenship of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups one and broke down the dividing wall of the partition 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might create the two into one new man, making peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, having in Himself put to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached the good news of peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; 18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21 in whom the whole building, being joined together, is growing into a holy sanctuary in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.”
The enemy wants to stop the preaching of the cross and the blood of Jesus, just as he wants to defile its beauty by using it as a symbol to build up the wall that Jesus tore down. Therefore, let us remember the beauty of the cross and proclaim the gospel message it contains to all the world, to the Jew first and also to the Greek2.
- Romans 3:10-12 (Psalm 14:1-3), Isaiah 64:6
- Romans 1:16