Thoughts for the Day

Tuesday, 26th March 2024: The symbol of the cross

Cross John 12 Heavenly Father Symbols Jesus

Reading : Verses from John, Chapter 12


Jesus said, ‘Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—“Father, save me from this hour”? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, ‘An angel has spoken to him.’ Jesus answered, ‘This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. The crowd answered him, ‘We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains for ever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?’ Jesus said to them, ‘The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.’

(Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)


Early Christians used a variety of symbols to express their faith, for instance a dove, a fish, a ship, the cross, and an anchor. The Greek word for fish came to be used as a symbol - ichthus - as did an acronym of the word, that is: 'Jesus Christ, God's Son, Saviour'. Writings from the early church also show how central the cross was. Justin Martyr writing in the mid 2nd century argued that God had providentially put the shape of the cross in everyday objects, such as the masts of ships, tools like the plough and the axe, and the standards of Roman legions. By this time people were also making the sign of the cross on their head and chest.

In our reading Jesus speaks of being "lifted up from the earth". Jesus knows that death awaits him at this point, the savage death on a cross, and so the words "lifted up" have a deliberate double meaning. He will be raised up physically on a cross and left to die, but he will also be "lifted up" in the sense of being elevated to a King's throne at his resurrection. Because of this he says, "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." We should notice the word 'people' literally means all people, no matter their gender, age, background, nationality or position.

The Son of God will freely accept the punishment laid on each of us, to reunite us with our Heavenly Father.


Lord Jesus Christ,
as we walk this week with you
may we accept that all too often
we turn away and ignore You.
Help us to understand what You
suffered for us,
and keep us true to the path
we have chosen to walk as Christians
even if the way is difficult,
knowing You are always with us.

Follow Up Thoughts

You might like to find out more about Christian symbols:

Or listen to this song:

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