What is the meaning of the cross of Christ?
Here are four ways to think about it via four common uses of an X.
1. The cross is a big 'X' meaning 'No'.
When a teacher marks an assignment, she or he, may write a big X across something that is wrong, perhaps in red ink. I had many red X's when I was at school.
Similarly on the cross God is saying 'No' to what is wrong with our world, and our attitudes and behaviour. In particular, God is saying 'No' to all violence. Jesus was executed because he opposed the domination of the vulnerable by the mighty and powerful of his day. The cross is God's 'No' to the taking advantage of others by those with power and privilege, 'No', to the exploitation of others by the mighty and 'No' to the systems and institutions that aid and perpetuate this abuse, and the resulting pain and hurt among the poor and marginalised.
2. The cross is a significant place.
In fiction pirates mark the location of hidden treasure with a big X on their pirate map. The X says, "Here is the treasure!".
The cross also is a marking place saying "Here is treasure!". We can come to the cross of Christ with expectation that life can be changed for the better.
There is a hymn which asks us to 'Survey the wond'rous cross'. The hymn invites us to expect insight, or guidance which is life-changing.
What do you find at the cross of Christ? An unfair death of an innocent, a painful end? The final words of Jesus reflect a sense of abandonment, a magnaminous forgiveness of his oppressors, a reconciliation with others and God, an expression of the fulfilment of his life's purpose.
In the novel, 'Pilgrim's Progress' by John Bunyan, the man Pilgrim finds the cross a relief from his burden of sin. The story is allegorical, Pilgrim carries his sin on his back like a heavy sack that weighs him down so he can barely walk. At the cross the sack falls away and he is set free, andf walks tall and proud, with a new found dignity.
St Paul wrote that for many the cross of Christ is folly and madness, but to those who believe it is the power of God. The power to change everything for the better.
How does the cross change everything for the better? This is my next point.
3. The cross is a kiss.
At Christmas time, when I was a young boy, I had to write my thank you letters to my distant aunts and uncles. I didn't like this chore but it wasn't difficult. The short note usually went somthing like this:
Dear Aunty Audrey and Uncle Jim,
Thank you for your Christmas card and gift.
I hope you are well.
The X's were kisses.
The cross is God's kiss, God's mark of love and affection.
God changes everything for the better through love. God puts love into our hearts, inspiring us to be more compassionate and understanding.
These three X's all connect us to God.
4. The cross is a road junction.
At the cross we can choose a new direction in life. The fourth X is therefore a crossroads or junction.
We can choose to turn away from domination, having found a significant place where we can change our lives and become more compassionate, transforming the world for the better.