Local News: First Presbyterian Church of Jackson is searching for tutors available to volunteer for the Neighborhood Christian Center. Every school year, FPC is responsible for tutoring 15 student from Johnson Elementary School. Tutoring takes place at Room 210 of the FPC Study Center at 3:00 on Mondays and Tuesday from September to May. Tutors are especially needed on Tuesdays. For more information, call the church office at 601-353-8316.
September 14 is known on the Church Calendar as Holy Cross Day, a day especially set aside to remember the cross of Jesus Christ. After 2,000 years of associating the cross with religious worship, the oddness of thinking of a cross as a “holy” thing has sort of worn off. People of the first century, though, could hardly be expected to intuitively understand what could possibly be “holy” about a cross. It would be equivalent, in the old West, to have a day called “Holy noose day”, or in our own time to have a “Holy lethal injection day”. Instruments of execution are not usually thought of fondly.
Understanding this helps make sense of what Paul meant when he said that preaching about Christ’s cross seemed foolish to many listeners. They couldn’t get past the fact that the Savior being preached about as the triumphant one had been publicly humiliated by the shameful death of crucifixion. Crosses were for the defeated, those who’d been put under by the Roman Empire—they weren’t for Messiahs.
1. Why is the cross “holy”?
Why, then, do Christians speak of the cross as a holy thing? How has Christ taken what would have normally been only an object of horror and made it a symbol of redemption? The reason Christ’s cross is sacred is that on the cross Jesus bore the sins of the world.
Due to sin—disobedience to God—the human race had become alienated from God, cut off from him as traitors are cut off from a king. God, taking the initiative to reconcile himself to the sinful human race, without turning a blind eye to sin or condoning it, sent his eternal Son to pay for our sins by dying for us. When Christ died on the cross, he didn’t pay for his own sins—he had none to pay for. He paid for the sins of the world, the sins that had alienated humanity from God. Thanks to the cross, God and mankind are reconciled. Sin is destroyed and death is defeated.
2. Why is Holy Cross Day on September 14?
The reason September 14 has specifically been set aside to commemorate Christ’s cross goes back to the 4th century. Tradition says that during a pilgrimage to Jerusalem the emperor Constantine’s mother, Helena, discovered the actual cross that Jesus died on in 326, one year after the Nicene Council. Afterwards, Constantine ordered the construction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at the site. On September 14, 335, the day after the church’s dedication, tradition says that a portion of the true cross was brought into the church to be venerated, and this is why September 14 is now marked as Holy Cross Day. To learn more of the history of the day, click here.
For the Christian, all of life is shaped by remembering the cross of Christ. Paul described his own ministry, saying, “We preach Christ crucified”. In Romans 5:8, Paul says, “God demonstrates his love to us in this: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” 1 John 3:16 says, the apostle John says, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us, and we also ought to lay down our lives for the brothers and sisters.”
For the Christian, the only frame of reference for even understanding what love means is through Christ’s cross. It is because God willingly gave Jesus to die on the cross for our sins that we know God loves us. It is through using God’s love demonstrated to us on Christ’s cross that we have a model for how we are to love each other. Take away the cross, and for the Christian, the center and essence of life is gone. This is why Christians can speak of the cross as “holy”.