The other day, I was reading this devotional from Dr. Charles Stanley. I thought I’d share it with you this Sunday.
The Cross: Symbol of Supreme Love
“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. “He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. “He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. “No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”
Countless people wear a cross because it symbolizes Christianity. But few fully grasp the depth of love that it represents.
The cross stands for what is arguably history’s most painful method of execution. Crucifixion usually began with two soldiers flogging the criminal from the front and back. They used a strap with three leather cords, each containing a piece of embedded bone that tore flesh to ribbons. No wonder Jesus fell and struggled to carry His cross after such treatment.
The soldiers then hammered a long square nail into the hands or wrists; this shape would heighten the already excruciating pain. Another nail was driven through the ankles into the wood. Raising the cross, executioners would then drop it into a hole in the ground, the “thud” further tearing flesh. In order to breathe, the convicted man had to push up on his bloody ankles.
Jesus was God, but He was also fully man. So He experienced the physical agony any human would feel at such brutality. On top of that, He felt emotional and spiritual anguish because the nation rejected Him and His disciples denied Him. Worst of all, when He took our sin upon Himself, the Father turned away (Matt. 27:46; 2 Cor. 5:21). Yet Jesus didn’t see Himself as a victim; He willingly offered His blood on our behalf and considered it a joy (Heb. 12:2). No greater love exists.
Take time to consider all that Jesus endured on the cross for your sake. As you begin to grasp the enormity of His sacrifice, thank Him for His boundless love.
“If I put my own good name before the other’s highest good, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”
“When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now.”
–C. S. Lewis
“My Savior, My God”–Aaron Shust