The Cross and the Tomb

Written by Julie

On April 1, 2021

The cross.

It’s everywhere–displayed on walls, worn as jewelry, adorning clothes and church-steeples, tattooed on people’s skin, and so much more.

But what about the tomb? The empty tomb?

Don’t get me wrong: I love the cross–or, more accurately, the meaning behind it, the reminder that Jesus took my place and died to save me from my sins. The cross is important, and we need to constantly remember and be thankful for it!

Actually, let me take that back. The cross itself doesn’t mean anything: hundreds, maybe thousands, of people have died on crosses; the only reason it means something to us is because of Who died on it and why.

Lee Strobel, author of The Case for Christ, was an atheist and investigative journalist who investigated Christianity and “its bold, central claim: that Jesus Christ died and came back to life.”

The Christian faith rises or falls on that claim. It’s the whole ballgame. I had investigated lots of deaths in my career as a journalist, and none of those corpses ever regained life. Dead people just don’t come back to life — unless that person truly is the Son of God.

Lee Strobel, “An Atheist Investigates Jesus to Disprove the Resurrection

The fact that Jesus rose proves He was who He said He was. The fact that Jesus rose gives us the hope–the assurance–that He is greater than death, that there is life after death, that we will see saved loved ones again. If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead–if we didn’t have the empty tomb–Christianity would be no different from any other religion. We’d still be hopeless. Jesus died to save us from the penalty of sin and rose to save us from the power of sin.

We need to stop focusing on just the death of Jesus and proclaim His resurrection as well!

And I think Christians do a pretty good job about that–at least, with our words. But what about with decorations and stuff? I’ve seen crosses all over the place, but rarely have I seen an empty tomb picture displayed proudly on the wall or an empty tomb charm dangling from a bracelet/necklace/purse/etc. or. . . I just haven’t seen an empty tomb often, okay? (And yeah, I get that crosses are easier to draw/etc. than tombs, but still, there are empty tomb things!)

I think we’ve “dressed up” the cross too much. I mean, it was an instrument of torture, a curse, a terrible, terrible thing.

The rough, degrading cross was a far cry from the golden or jewel-studded crosses of modern Christianity.

Roger L. Berry, “The Perfect Sin Offering”, The Word Made Flesh: A Study From the Gospel of John (Sunday school book)

Is this a work of Satan? Does he make the cross beautiful so that people are fooled into thinking that the Christian life isn’t that hard, that “taking up your cross” doesn’t mean daily dying and going through some really hard stuff (and so when they find out the truth about the cross and stuff, they’re really tempted to {and perhaps do} turn away from that life–the Life)? Is he trying to keep people focusing on death and agony and hardships, to cause more depression and negativism? Has he made the cross so common to try to keep people from really thinking about it and being overwhelmed with thankfulness/love/awe for what Jesus did? Has the cross become an idol?

An idol is anything that takes the place of God, something we focus on more than we focus on God. Is more focus put on the cross than on the God that died on the cross?

We recently sang “The Old Rugged Cross” in church. It’s a lovely old song, but. . . it talks about cherishing the cross, clinging to the cross, being true to the cross.

This text was not accepted by most major hymnals until the 1950s, despite great popularity. One reason was … the somewhat controversial nature of a hymn expressing such great affection for the cross itself, rather than for Christ, the one who died there.

“The Old Rugged Cross”, For Leaders, Worship Notes

It’s just a symbol, you say. We can’t exactly hang Jesus dying to save us around the house now, can we?

I get that. I totally get that. But we need to be careful to remember that. The cross in and of itself cannot save me; it was simply the instrument upon which He died. I’ll follow that up with, the empty tomb in and of itself isn’t what gives me hope, isn’t what assures me of power over death and sin; it’s a symbol of Jesus’ resurrection and the power He has/gives.

/~/

I know this is a long, rambling, disjointed post. But these are my thoughts and questions, and I wanted to get them out. 🙂 I can’t say I have the answers (because I don’t), but I can say that this was a challenge to me. Do I focus on the cross more than the Jesus who died there or on the empty tomb more than the Jesus who rose from there? Or have I become so used to them, so accustomed to their presence/existence, that I don’t think about them as I should and therefore don’t think about Jesus as I should? Have I bought into the beautified cross and forgotten that its very purpose is pain–that it’s a representation of suffering and dying–and am I then discouraged or angered when my life isn’t easy or what I thought it’d be? Anyway, let me know your thoughts!

		
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Julie

Julie

Hi, I'm Julie, a 16 year-old lover of books, music, and Jesus. I'm a sophomore in high school (Abeka Academy), and am starting my second year of violin lessons. I also co-publish a digital magazine called Priceless geared toward teen girls. My desire is to use my words to glorify my Saviour and to encourage you in your walk with God. I'd love to hear from you!

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