Today’s reading is drawn from John 19:14-18.
The symbol of the cross is common in our culture. It is frequently seen on church buildings, worn as jewelry, and portrayed in paintings, movies, and other media. Ancient people would be surprised to see our uses of the cross today. For example, they would most likely be appalled to see people wear a cross as a piece of jewelry around their necks! In the ancient world, the cross was not something associated with beauty or riches. It would have been associated with horrible pain and death.
In the ancient world, crucifixion was the absolute worst way to die. It involved both intense suffering as well as public disgrace. It was practiced by the Romans, the Jews, and other people groups around the world. The Jewish community at Qumran even believed that God’s curse was upon a person who was crucified. The Jews would have certainly struggled with the crucifixion of a so-called Messiah. How could God both use a man to lead his people and also abandon and curse that man on the cross? It would not have made any sense.
We know that Jesus was the true Messiah. He was the Son of God. At the same time, He had to endure the worst possible death, public disgrace, and the curse of God. He did this in order to be the sacrifice for the sins of the world.
God, thank you that Jesus was wiling to endure a horrible, painful, shameful death for us. Thank you that He was cursed by God in order that we might be forgiven. Help me to be grateful for the cross today. Give me opportunities to share the message of the cross with others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.