For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is the power of God to us who are being saved.” 1 Corinthians 1:18
It’s an Easter tradition. Well, we are waving goodbye to Easter as it disappears in the rearview mirrors of our lives. Before we let it get too far gone, I want to share something that happens every year at our church. It is the story of a cross. I know all Christian churches have crosses, in fact, we have several. But each Easter there is a special cross that sits at the entrance of our church. And it has a story to tell.
Our church has two services on Sunday morning—one early and one later. When people come to our early service on Easter morning, they are greeted by what can only be described as one ugly cross. It is made of weathered 2×4’s and covered with…chicken wire. I am sure more than one person sees that cross and wonders how the custodian could forget to store it before services started. What they wouldn’t know is something is going to happen to that old rugged cross…something that will make it beautiful.
Long ago, there was another old rugged cross and it too was ugly. It was “repurposed” as criminal after criminal was hung from it. Nails were driven through human flesh and blood was spilt. Rome didn’t take kindly to those who rebelled against their stern and unfair system of “justice.” Like the cross in our foyer, it didn’t need to be displayed…it needed to be hidden. Then, one day, something different happened. Something different indeed.
So, what about the ugly cross at our church? Well, you see during time in-between our two services a wonderful transformation takes place. The ladies take dozens of beautiful flowers and completely cover the cross and piece by piece, bloom by bloom, that ugly old cross becomes beautiful. And two thousand years ago, the same thing happened.
I know, the thought of Jesus, the Rose of Sharon, the perfect Lamb of God, nailed to a Roman cross, well, is anything but beautiful…until we remember. We remember that He was held not by nails of iron but by love. We remember that He was there not for His own sin but for ours. He was there so that we could call His Father our Father and suddenly the beauty of His old, rugged cross takes on a new beauty. It is a beautiful picture of love, sacrifice, and redemption.
Perhaps that is what led the hymn writer to write, “On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross—the emblem of suffering and shame. And I love that old cross where the dearest and best for a world of lost sinners was slain.” Perhaps the author was able to see past the blood and gore to a Savior’s blessed glory. Perhaps he saw what we should see…what we need to see. Paul saw it…that is why he wrote, “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is the power of God to us who are being saved.” No doubt.
Well, at the end of our second service, people stop and pose by the now beautiful cross and its beautiful blooms. Its beauty reminds us that instead of an instrument of death, it was an instrument of redemption. Its beauty shouts that He is no longer hanging on a cross, He is no longer tucked away in a borrowed tomb, no, He is alive…He lives. Hallelujah…what a Savior…what a Redeemer…what a Rescuer.
Monday after Easter, our cross was stripped of its now dying flowers and it was stored away to be rediscovered next year. But let’s make a point to never forget what the old, rugged cross is all about…redemption, rescue, and love. Let’s gather each week, whether it is Sunday or another day, and celebrate an old cross and an empty tomb. Because they are both empty, we have a reason to celebrate. Need a little help with that? Don’t worry…He’s got that. Bro. Dewayne