Crosses were once what
an electric chair is today a means of putting criminals to
death. How could a symbol of execution be worn as jewelry, decorate
houses of worship and, at the same time, be offensive?
The fact of the cross
of Jesus Christ says two things. First, that we are sinners. If
it were not for our sin, the Son of Gods death on the cross
would not have been necessary. Second, the cross says that there
is nothing we could do about it. We could take the punishment but,
because of our sin, could never pay the penalty. Jesus did both.
Jesus said that He came "to give His life a ransom for many."1
John the Baptist said of Him, "Behold, the lamb of God who takes
away the sin of the world!"2
After living a sinless
life, Jesus offered up His life as payment for our sin, experienced
death and conquered it.3
Steel is as common a
material for construction today as wood and stone were in the first
century. The steel cross at Ground Zero is more appropriate than
the crosses of polished brass seen more often or, what are even
more incongruous, crosses of gold or silver, some studded with precious
gems. All bear little resemblance to the cross on which the Savior
of the world was put to death. The cross of Christ was roughly cut
and hastily constructed from wood that probably wasnt fit
for simple furniture. It was erected on a hill that was a place
of execution of the guilty
not the innocent. On the cross,
Jesus hung suspended between heaven and earth the mediator
between a holy God and sinful man.
At the moment of His
death a miracle took place. The great curtain in the temple, that
separated worshipers from Gods presence, was torn in two,
from top to bottom indicating it was an act of God.
The holy Son of God joined
the human race. He lived for 33 years without sin and was killed.
He paid the penalty for sin without committing the crime. So death
had no power over Him. After three days in the grave, He came back
to life again, and now offers forgiveness of sin and the gift of
everlasting life to all.
Whether or not the steel
cross at Ground Zero becomes part of the permanent memorial at the
World Trade Center, it conveys a timely reminder of timeless truth.
Some facts are inescapable.
Humanity is lost. Modern
secular culture tries to explain away mans sin. The plagues
of immorality and violence are attributed to poverty, social injustice
even genetics. The blame is placed everywhere except where
it belongs the sinful human heart.
Eternity is certain.
Gods Word indicates that once human life begins, there is
no end to existence. Each person will face a final lasting judgment.
Whatever a persons destiny, it is eternal. Everlasting reward
or punishment waits for every person on earth.
Jesus Christ is the only
way of salvation. Modern culture seems to have accepted the idea
that anything a person believes can be a pathway to eternal life
and ultimate peace. According to Gods revealed truth, there
is only one way to peace and everlasting life. The apostle Peter
said, "There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other
name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must
be saved."4 Jesus said, "I am the way, and
the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through
me."5 The issue is not religion but
relationship. "He who has the Son has the life; he who does not
have the Son of God does not have the life."6
Forgiveness of sin and
eternal life are not granted merely for believing in Gods
existence and distinguishing right from wrong. Peace with God is
obtained only through faith in Jesus Christ, who broke down the
wall of separation between God and man. We who were enemies and
far away from God because of our sin have been brought near by the
blood of Jesus Christ.7 In Christs birth,
God came near to us. His death brought us near to God.8
"Memorial" is defined
simply as "serving to preserve remembrance." It need not be a physical
structure or a statue. It can be a ceremony or an act.
Each week, Christians
recognize a memorial as believers have for 2000 years Communion
service, a remembrance initiated by Jesus himself. His words are
carved in Communion tables all over the world, "This do in remembrance
We eat bread and drink
juice to remember His tortured body and His innocent blood that
was shed because of our sins. We remember the death of the One whose
life was not taken from Him. He didnt just risk His life,
He gave it, knowing that He would suffer and die. It wasnt
suicide but a sacrifice.
Jesus said, "This is
my body which is given for you"
His death was not senseless
or without purpose, but given for us.
The purpose of Communion
is more than just remembering or even honoring Christs death.
Communion celebrates that death personally with reverent gratitude
When Jesus instituted
this memorial, of the disciples present only John would be an eyewitness
to His suffering and death. The others would have no firsthand memory
of the cross. They would only have, like us, a memorial.
A permanent memorial
to the victims of 9/11 is yet to be determined. But, during the
anniversary week of the tragedy, America will remember
millions will also contemplate its meaning.
While remembering the
tragic and senseless deaths that occurred on September 11, 2001,
let us reflect on the most significant death in human history, a
life that was not taken, but given Jesus Christs purposeful
death that resulted in Gods offer of forgiveness and everlasting
life to all.
references: 1-Matthew 20:28, NASB, 2-John 1:29, 3-Hebrews 2:9,10,
4-Acts 4:12, 5-John 14:6, 6-1 John 5:12, 7-Ephesians 2:13, 8-1 Peter
Hurst is commissioner of evangelism for the Assemblies of God. E-mail
the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.