Of the many paradoxes of Good Friday, Jesus’s gruesome murder, his crucifixion transformed something totally dreadful into something really stunningly beautiful. Kinda weird huh? Only the worst enemies of the state are reserved with punishments like crucifixion. It was horrendous, prisoners could be nailed to any tree and left to hang there till dead. It was public, the passersby could come by and gawk, suitably discouraged from committing such crimes. And it was excruciating–beheading was instantaneous, but a crucifixion victim could linger in agony for days.
The Romans’ worst punishment was God’s choice for the punishing of his Son, whom he now considered to be the worst sinner of all time. The prophet Isaiah, seven centuries before Christ, was allowed to look into the future to see the strange way in which salvation for the human race would be won. “He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5). There is no longer any condemnation or punishment for those who believe in Christ. His precious body was pierced by dreadful nails; his precious wounds bring you healing. We are healed by his wounds. He died a dreadful death to save us all from sins.
The death of Jesus has transformed an instrument of torture into a symbol of inspiration for our churches. The cross has become our logo, our “mark.” We use it for artistic decoration, place it atop our steeples, and hang it above our altars, at homes, worn around the necks of many Christians. It is now such a beautiful symbol that Christians use it as jewelry.
Wear your cross with pride.
Isaiah 53:5 (KJV)
But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.