Many people today recognize the cross as the symbol of Christianity and identified with Christ. What does the cross truly symbolize? Is it bad to have a crucifix to honor Christ? What is the history of the cross? These will be answered and more on Face the Truth.
Now when the cross is mentioned, people think of Christianity and vise versa. It is identified with the central figure of Christianity, namely the Lord Jesus Christ. Now why is Jesus Christ associated with the cross? What exactly does the bible say about this? Let’s read what is written in the book of 1 Peter chapter 2 and the verse is 24. This is written:
Christ carried the burden of our sins. He was nailed to the cross, so that we would stop sinning and start living right. By his cuts and bruises you are healed.
[I Peter 2:24 Contemporary English Version]
And so we learned that the Lord Jesus Christ was nailed on the cross. And this account tells us why our Lord Jesus Christ is associated with the cross. Because he was nailed, he suffered, and everyone knows that Christ died on the cross. Now this was our Lord Jesus Christ’s ultimate sacrifice.
Now what did our Lord Jesus Christ command and this command also mentions the cross. Let’s now read from the book of Matthew chapter 16 and the verse is 24.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow Me.”
[Matthew 16:24 New King James Version]
So, our Lord Jesus Christ commands to those who desire to be his disciples is to take up his cross and follow him. Now what will happen to those who refuse to take up this cross? Let’s read Luke 14 and 27.
Those who do not carry their own cross and come after me cannot be my disciples.
[Luke 14:27 Good News Translation]
So to carry one’s cross is necessary to be a true disciple of Christ. To be a true follower or true Christian. But the question is what or which is this cross that a true disciple needs to carry? Is it a literal wooden cross or even a crucifix or pendant or some kind of image that one places on one’s clothing? Let us see the various interpretations of this in popular culture.
[On Screen: Various images of the cross found in culture, the media.]
Now if you notice, there is a garden variety or even endless interpretations and expressions regarding how one carries his cross. But what does our Lord Jesus Christ mean when he says “carry one’s cross” and follow him? How is this a requirement if one wants to be a true disciple? We’ll find out after this. Please stay tuned.
According to the Bible, which Apostle wore the first crucifix?
a) Apostle Paul
b) Apostle Peter
c) Apostle Jude
d) All of the above
e) None of the above
Answer: None of the above
Welcome back to Face the Truth. Our topic today is about the cross. Now before the break, we learned that our Lord Jesus Christ commanded that to be his disciple, one needs to take up his cross and follow him. Now we show that in pop culture, there are endless interpretations or expressions regarding this. People literally wear, dawn, and own crosses. But is this what Christ meant by carrying one’s cross? What does our Lord Jesus Christ want us to really carry? Let’s read from the book of Matthew chapter 11 and the verses are 29 and 30. This is what is stated:
Take my yolk upon you and learn from Me, for I am gently and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
[Matthew 11:29-30 New King James Version]
Now what needs to be carried according to the Lord Jesus Christ is his yolk. Which is this yolk mentioned by Christ that we need to carry? We’re gonna read now from the book of Galatians chapter 6 the verses are 5 and 2.
For each of you have to carry your own load. Help carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will obey the law of Christ.
[Galatians 6:5, 2 Good News Translation]
Now the yolk that one needs to carry is the law of Christ. Now what did Christ say regarding his laws or commandments? John 14 and the verse is 24. The Lord Jesus Christ teaches us this:
Those who do not love me do not obey my teaching. And the teaching you have heard is not mine, but comes from the Father, who sent me.
[John 14:24 Good News Translation]
So our Lord Jesus Christ commands or what he teaches are the commandments of God. Those who do not follow them do not love Him or are not his true followers. Therefore what Christ meant when he said that to be his true disciples, one must deny himself and carry his cross is not a command of Christ to carry a literal wooden cross or whatever material it’s made of, but to follow God’s will which requires self-denial or sacrifice.
Now but some of you may say, “You know we get it. Its not what our Lord Jesus Christ meant, but is it wrong to have it since it reminds us of Christ?” Isn’t this one of the reasons why we can see crosses everywhere like on buildings? We see necklaces, things placed on gravesites, crosses, etc. Is it so wrong to pay homage to the one who suffered such a horrible ordeal to fulfill the will of God, by having this symbol? Now this will be very interesting after the break. We will give you a brief history of how the religious icon, the cross, came to be and what you may find out may well be an eye-opener to you Please stay tuned.
I do have a crucifix. It keeps me cognizant of the sacrifice that he made for me.
I think of it as protecting a family because when we open the door to our house, on top we have a little cross.
The cross is a representation of all that he went through…If you wear a cross and you’re doing bad things and wrong things, is that gonna save you? I don’t think so.
I don’t really carry around a cross or rosary or anything like that. I just think that everyday, if we really are true believers of Jesus Christ, that should be reflected upon us every single day. That’s what Jesus Christ is or what we should carry.
Welcome back to Face the Truth. Now for those of you who just tuned in, we were talking about the cross; a symbol which is seen almost everywhere and is often associated with our Lord Jesus Christ and Christianity. Now before the break, we learned that when our Lord Jesus Christ said take up your cross and follow me, he did not mean at all to carry a literally cross or even wear it. But he meant to follow the will of God, whatever sacrifice it may entail. He taught self-denial, which is a requirement to being a true disciple of Christ.
Now, the question we left hanging was the question that I’m sure many are waiting to be addressed which is “Is it so wrong to pay homage or pay tribute to the one who suffered such a horrible ordeal to fulfill to will of God?” For example they would say, “If you go to public buildings, you see huge murals or symbols of great people.” They serve as a reminder that these individuals contributed so much or even their own lives for a great cause or the establishment of an important institution and so it is so bad to have a cross as to commemorate and honor the Lord Jesus Christ? Well, let’s first find out historically how did the cross become a religious icon and identified with Christianity? We’re gonna read from a book entitled Discourses on the Apostles Creed written by Clement H. Crock. On page 16, this is what is stated:
With his crucifixion, the cross was to become the symbol of honor, the standard of Christian faith, the symbol of salvation. Like the government which flies its flag over its Capitol, public buildings, ships and ports, so the Church now crowns her steeples, her altars, and the very tombs of her children, with the emblem of the cross. Catholic people grace their homes with this sacred symbol. These customs date back to the time of the Apostles and the beginning of Christianity. Even a St. Paul could cry out: “Far be it from me to glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal., vi. 14).
…we form on our foreheads the sign of the cross. These practices are not commanded by a formal law of Scripture;
[Discourses on the Apostles’ Creed pg. 16]
And so according to Clement H. Crock, with his crucifixion, he said the cross was to become the symbol of honor—the standard of Christian faith, the symbol of salvation.
Now when was this practiced? It says that these customs date back to the time of the Apostles and the beginning of Christianity. Well is it true that the symbol of the cross dates back to the time of the Apostles and the beginning of Christianity? Is it true that it is in honor of Christ? The book Discourses on the Apostles’ Creed, if you note, it even quoted Apostle Paul or quoted a Scripture. Is this truly a Christian practice? Well, all of these questions and more will be discussed after our break. Please stay tuned.
Welcome back to Face the Truth. Our topic today is about the cross. Now before our break, we read in excerpt from a book Discourses on the Apostles’ Creed and we learned that the Catholic church claims that the custom regarding the cross dates back to the time of the Apostles and the beginning of Christianity.
Now Apostle Paul was also quoted. We said in Galatians 6:14: “Far be it from me to glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ”. Now, though the Apostle Paul mentioned the cross in this verse, there is no mention or commandment for us to have a physical cross. And if you still remember what we studied earlier that other than the actual death of Christ on a literal cross, other mentions of the cross refers to sacrifice or self-denial. In fact, you cannot read in the Bible that the first Christians had any such practice of having physical crosses or a crucifix in any way.
So where did this practice come from? Was this practice or symbol Christian? Well, in this Catholic book entitled The Visible Church on page 121, this is what we can read:
The Cross is the most important of Catholic emblems. It symbolizes the redemption of mankind and our holy faith, because Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and our God, died on the cross. It is used on our churches, schools, institutions, altars, vestments, etc., as a symbolic ornament; and when blessed, as either a cross or a crucifix, it becomes a great sacramental of our religion.
Among many nations, in ancient times, crosses were used for the execution of criminals. But even among pagan nations the cross was held in religious honor. The most ancient form was the swastika, emblematic of the revolutions of the sun, and consequently of life. In Egypt and Assyria the cross typified creative power; the Egyptian gods are often represented holding a crux ansata, or cross with a handle, an emblem of the reproductive powers of Nature. In India, Mexico and Peru, crosses were in use with the same symbolic meaning.
[The Visible Church pg. 121]
And so as we have read, the crosses said to be the most important of Catholic emblems. And when blessed, its either a cross or a crucifix, it becomes a great sacramental of the Catholic religion. So the symbol of the cross became identified with Christianity only through the Catholic church and not from the Holy Scriptures, not from Christ, or even the Apostles. This was used by pagan nations even before the time of Christ.
In fact, how should the symbol of the cross really be considered? Well the answer may shock many so you don’t wanna miss it. We’ll find out when we return on Face the Truth.
Welcome back to Face the Truth. We are studying today about the cross and how it came to be a religious icon and a symbol identified with Christianity. Though the cross is mentioned in the bible, it was not mentioned as something that one should make and place in their chapels, wear around one’s neck, and place in your home. The cross was only made a symbol of Christianity after the time of Christ and the Apostles and the first century Christians. And this was done by the Catholic church.
In fact, how should the cross truly be considered according to the Catholic book we read earlier? Let’s go back to that book we read earlier—Discourses on the Apostles’ Creed by Clement H. Crock on page 16. This is what we can read:
Before the time of Christ the cross was a symbol of shame, ignorance and dishonor. Like the guillotine, the noose, or the electric chair, it was the instrument for the execution of the worst criminals. The cross was branded upon the forehead of criminals as a symbol of disgrace before the whole world.
[Discourses on the Apostles’ Creed page 16]
Now what does the cross symbolize? Well based on what we have read, shame, ignorance and dishonor. What kind of people were identified with the cross even before the time of Christ? This book that we have read says the worse criminals. This was branded up or seared or marked on the foreheads of criminals to disgrace them. Even worse, what was it used for? Not just a symbol of disgrace, but an instrument of execution like the guillotine, the noose, or even the electric chair.
Now what we are studying today is not to offend anyone of course. However we have to tell you the truth. And these things that we are revealing to you today are recorded even in history books for you to examine yourselves.
Now let us put this in perspective for a moment. If it just so happen that Christ was put to death by means of the equivalent instruments of execution like the electric chair, the guillotine or noose for example, it’s quite possible that one of these instruments of execution would have transformed into a religious icon today. Could you imagine religious groups placing electric chairs, guillotines, or nooses on their church steeples and their altars? Imagine making gold or silver necklaces shaped out of these things. It may sound absurd and we couldn’t imagine that being done by anyone. Well, its no different from what people have done with the cross. Which during those times was one of the worse forms of execution. That’s why it was used to put death the Lord Jesus Christ.
In fact, the Apostles mention the shame of the cross, here in the book of Hebrews chapter 12 and the verse is 2:
We must keep our eyes on Jesus, who leads us and makes our faith complete. He endured the shame of being nailed to a cross, because he knew that later on he would be glad he did. Now he is seated at the right side of God’s throne!
[Hebrews 12:2 Contemporary English Version]
And so the literal cross is a symbol of shame, a symbol of disgrace, dishonor, torture, and death. Why would anyone want to use something such as this to honor Christ? And so the truth may be painful at first, but whether you accept it or not, whether you believe it or not, the truth is something we all must face. Thanks for joining us on Face the Truth. I am Barry Thompson. Take care and God bless.
[Brother Barry Thompson]