“You have given a banner (a sign of Cross) to those who fear You, that it may be displayed because of the truth. That Your beloved may be delivered” (Psalm 60:4).
By Deacon Medhanie Haile
Would you wear a tiny electric chair “an instrument of execution” around your neck? How strange would you say a tool of torture would come to embody a movement of hope? We wear it around the neck, you have seen it on the top of the church or carved in to graveyard headstone. I am talking about the Cross Of Christ. It has been a symbol of Christianity for ages But why the Cross? Its design couldn’t be simple. One beam is horizontal and the other vertical. One side like God’s love represent the width of His love and the other side as does God’s holiness reflects the height of His holiness. The Cross is the intersection where God forgive his children without lowering His standard.
The Cross is a sign of God’s love and Justice.
The bible says “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” (Gal 3:3). The Lord has played three roles on the Cross. When Adam and Eve sinned, the result was obvious death! “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). Humanity didn’t need only love. If it were, it would have been easy for God to forgive Adam. Adam’s transgression needed also God’s Justice. Humanity needed a redeemer who takes Adam’s place to die and to shed His blood in accordance with the law established in the Old Testament; “without shedding of blood there is no remission.” (Heb. 9:23). The Cross is a sign of Christ’s sacrificial love and Adam’s salvation. St. Gregory the Theologian, said, “humanity has been saved through being unified with God. So the incarnation, along with crucifixion, can fulfill salvation. The cross then is an essential matter in the process of salvation”.
The Cross is God’s call to humanity.
The bible says “when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32). St. Athanasius explains this saying “ How could He have called us to Him unless he had been crucified. For no man can die with open arms except on the cross. That is why the Lord saw fit to bear this death, to stretch forth His hands, so that with one hand He could draw the old nation and with the other draw the nations, so that both would unite in His person.”
The Cross is the power of God
St. Paule in his letter to Corinthians said, “ For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor. 1:18). That is why in our daily prayer we cross our body three times saying, “I worship before the cross of our Lord Eeyesus Kiristos, which was sanctified by his precious blood.
The Cross is our Might,
The Cross is our Strength.
The Cross is our Ransom,
and the Cross is the Medicine
of our Soul.
The Jews denied Him, but we
believe in him.
We who have believed in Him are
Saved by the power of His cross.
The cross is our sign to defeat the devil and all evil temptation
The cross is our sign to defeat the devil and all evil temptation as Christ defeated all evil with the cross. For this reason, we elevate and bow down before the cross in veneration and worship of God. In one our Church’s hymn, specifically in passion week, we say “Before the Cross, We bow down in Worship, O Master, and your Holy Resurrection, we glorify”. In the Old Testament, King David as well as prophet Isaiah order us to bow before His footstool (the Cross) (Psalm 99:5 and Is. 60:11-16).
The Cross is a place of Judgment
St. Augustine said, “the cross itself, if we contemplate it well, is a judgment seat. Here, the judge is in the middle, one criminal who had delivered was saved, and the other one who had blasphemed was condemned. God judges our response to His love and mercy. While on the cross, the thief on the right didn’t care for his own pain but tried his best to save the other from going astray and guide him to the truth. This is what it means when Our Lord Jesus Christ said “Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.(Lk 14:27). By his imitation of Christ likeness, faith and repentance, he became a disciple and entered into the paradise. It is a great glory for the believer to bow and carry with His master His passion, in order that he get an experimental knowledge with the resurrection power and its Joy into him.
Why we celebrate it today
In the 4th century, St. Constantine, the king of Rome, as he was preparing for a battle, he saw a cross sign in the sky, and over it the word, “by this (sign of cross), conquer”. Using this Holy Symbol, he won battle after battle. He stopped Christian persecution and established Christianity as an acceptable religion throughout it’s empire and become the patron and defender of Christianity. Constantine’s mother, St. Eleni, 84 age, her greatest desire was to find the cross on which Christ was crucified. In the year 325 A.D. she went to Jerusalem in search of the cross. After a long search she found the lord’s cross hidden together with the two crosses on which the two thieves (on His right and one on His right) has been crucified. The true and life-giving cross was recognized when a dead man was placed on it and was brought to life by miracle of the Holy Cross. The Cross is life-Giving. The power of the cross overcomes death, diseases and sin as evidence in the miracle. It possesses invincible power. Don’t overlook or underestimate the cross around your neck. It got a power more than anything. On this day we celebrate remembering the finding of the Holy cross by St. Eleni.
May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.(Gal. 6:14)