The cross is a torture device. One of the worst ever invented by man. There are many terrible devices, but only one of them caused the coining of the word excruciating, which literally means “out of the cross”, such was the pain it caused. It was once a symbol of evil terror and oppression.
Yet this symbol is now, and long has been, a symbol of hope, salvation and grace to a large percentage of humanity. It’s a sign that we will not be left in our sins, without hope. It’s a symbol that people wear on necklaces, t-shirts, put in their churches, or in their houses to inspire themselves. It’s a symbol of joy to those who believe in what it represents.
How does a symbol of torture become a symbol of the most amazing hope? Something genuine must have happened. Something did.
As Mary was told, a sword would pierce her side, in other words, her heart would be broken, because she would see her son suffer on the cross. The little boy that was born on the first Christmas day, before it was called that, was going to achieve salvation for us, by suffering for us, in our place on that cross. The innocent crushed for the guilty, to redeem us from evil and guilt.
As the great song says:
“God rest ye merry gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember, Christ, our Saviour
Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan’s power
When we were gone astray
O, tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
O, tidings of comfort and joy”
The cross brings tidings of comfort and joy, because of the one who suffered in our place, who defeated sin, death and the devil for us. Christmas is the celebration of the coming of this saviour who would achieve this.
The gospel is a transforming power and I think one of the most powerful pieces of evidence of its power to transform is that it turned one of the most terrifying symbols of oppression into one of the most amazing symbols of hope. Only a true and powerful event could have done this. No myth, no legend, no lie, only a true and meaningful event that genuinely changed its symbolic image.
Christmas day reminds us of this hope. Because on that first Christmas day our saviour began his work for us, the little child was born that would redeem the world.
So let’s celebrate this awesome event that brings us great tidings of comfort and joy.