The Power of the Cross

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.—1 Corinthians 1:18

As I was leaving the grocery store, a new bagger asked if she could carry out my groceries. I said yes, as I usually do, knowing it would give me an opportunity to begin building a relationship with her so I could share Christ.

The cross around her neck would be a good conversation starter. “I like your cross,” I said. “What does it mean to you?”

Her face lighted up as she ran the chain between her fingers, pushing the cart with her free hand. “It means everything. It helps me. It protects me. It guides me.”

It was clear that to her, the cross was a talisman, a good luck charm of sorts. She believed it had magical powers. Even as I tried to explain what the cross really means and the redemption it represents, she still didn’t get it.

Before the death of Jesus, the cross that stood at Calvary was simply an instrument of death constructed using wooden beams. It represented the most excruciating means of execution. It stood as a symbol of fear and public shame. 

But the Friday before Easter changed all that. That day Roman guards nailed an innocent Man to a cross. But this was no mere man. It was the Son of Man and the Son of God, born to die so He could take the punishment for the sins of the world because we, in our sinfulness, are unable to save ourselves.

The cross that brought Him death brings us life. For those who receive Him, believe Him and have become children of God, we are no longer in bondage to our sin. God has not only given us a clean slate and has assured us of an eternity with Him.

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross.—Colossians 2:13-14

The cross represents freedom to us who accept Jesus’ substitutionary atonement on our behalf. It forever stands as a symbol of God’s power and His unmerited love for us.

Even as fire ravaged Notre Dame, a place I have visited and will forever cherish, the cross remained. It did not remain standing because it possessed some magical power. It remained standing as a reminder of the power of God that sets prisoners free. We will not have to justify ourselves before God to enter into heaven; Jesus has done that for us. The cross reminds us of that beautiful, eternal truth.

The power of the cross can still be felt 2,000-plus years later. It’s as if Jesus won the victory but handed us the trophy. But we must freely accept it. Will you?