Today is Good Friday. In the Christian tradition, this is the day we celebrate the death of Jesus on the cross.
The cross is such an odd thing to take center stage in a religion. It was a form of torture meant to prolong the pain and suffering of its recipient. It originated at the edge of the known world and was adopted by the Persians. Initially, it involved a sharpened pole, and the victim would slide down it as they moved. The Romans found this method too quick and added a crossbeam to make the pain last longer. It was the single most cruel form of punishment known to humanity.
Yet, it stands at the center of the Christian faith. Churches have crosses on their building and usually in various locations inside. Individuals wear it on jewelry, place it on clothing and use it as decorations in their home. It is found in cemeteries, roadsides, anywhere that the name of Jesus is proclaimed.
Why is there so much emphasis on the cross? Why do Christians wear it, display it, and talk about it over and over?
You do not have to spend more than one week at our Church to hear the story of Jesus’s death. There is a time in our program every week that we call communion that focuses our attention explicitly on his broken body and his blood shed on the cross.
Why is there so much talk about the cross of Christ?
The answer is simple. It is the center of our faith. The followers of Jesus believe his death on the cross was to save us from our sins. He took the punishment that should be ours upon himself. His death is what each one of us deserved. He was forsaken by God so that you and I would not be rejected. The cross is where Jesus gave his life as a ransom for many and loved the world with the giving of his life.
It is not only central to the Christian religion; it is also essential to each believer. Every day we fall short of the glory of God, and we need what the cross has to offer. It is not a one-time acceptance, and then we move on with our lives. It is the place we find the grace we need to make it through each day without guilt, shame, and remorse. The cross of Jesus is the center of our faith and our life.
Today is a day that believers will talk about the cross in many public arenas. It sounds like foolishness, but to those of us who believe – It is the power of God.