Easter Reminders: The Cross and the Stone

cross

I wrote this post a couple of years ago, but its message resonates today. Always remember that the cross and the stone must go together because one without the other means very little.

A cross and a stone. Those are the images of Easter. One represents death. The other life. Without one, there is no need for the other.

The cross

Over the years, the cross has lost it’s gruesomeness. We’ve prettied it up. We wear the reminder around our necks, we hang it on our walls. When we look at it, we don’t see what the Jews of Jesus day saw. We don’t see a symbol of death and oppression. We see only a symbol of hope. We see a symbol of sacrifice.

Yet, for centuries, the cross was a tool of oppression. The Jewish people did not use crucifixion as a form of punishment. It was reserved for the Roman government. And you didn’t have to commit a horrific crime to find yourself hanging from one. You could steal something or speak out against the government. The cross wasn’t just a tool of execution. It was a public deterrent to dissent.

And that’s where Jesus died — on a human government’s tool to suppress revolt. He died on a hill in full view of everyone, his crime posted on a sign above His head. At any time, Jesus could have climbed off the cross. He could have taken over, sent everyone fleeing in the face of His awesome power. But He didn’t. He stayed on that cross and died, bearing the weight of the sin of the world. All so we could be free — not from an oppressive government, but from the separation from God. And in that moment, the cross became a symbol not of death and oppression, but a symbol of love.

The stone

It was big. It was heavy. It was unmoveable by one person. The stone that covered the entrance to the tomb was an obstacle to the living. Yet, even the heavy stone could not keep Jesus in the grave.

When the women arrived at the tomb on Sunday morning, that stone, that keeper of death, was rolled away. The tomb was empty. And it would stay that way. This was no mistake. No one had taken Jesus’ body. He had been dead for three days and then came back to life.

Without the stone, there is no redemptive power in the cross. Without the stone, Jesus would just be another man who claimed to be God. It is only because of the stone that the words of John 3:16 mean anything. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Only a living God can promise eternal life. Jesus’ death means nothing without His resurrection.

The cross is useless without the stone.

Create reminders

As Easter approaches, as we take our kids to Good Friday and Easter services, we need to help them understand that the importance of Easter lies not just in the cross but in the stone as well. Create a reminder of the importance that the tomb was empty.

Sometime this weekend, give your kids a cross made of twigs and a rock from the yard. Explain that they are reminders of the two events that make Easter so important. Jesus died on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins. It represents the fact that Jesus loves us and wants us to have a relationship with Him. Jesus rose from the grave three days later. The stone represents the amazing power of a living God. It reminds us that Jesus is who He said He is, and He holds power even over death.

The cross and the stone. Two important reminders of what Easter means to us.

 

First Friday: The Broken Cross

Today is Good Friday. The day that we remember the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. And today, I get to introduce you to my friend Sara Cormany. Sara is a gifted writer whose writing touches my heart every time I read it. She has graciously agreed to fill this space on the first Friday of every month. I know you’ll enjoy hearing from her as much as I do. Today, enjoy being reminded that because of the cross, Jesus can pick up our broken pieces.

Sleepily, I padded into the kitchen this morning.  Lifted the baby into her highchair.  And threw some dried cereal in her general direction, secretly hoping it would give me a moment to collect myself.

I would like to say that moment involved perusing something amusing on the internet.  Or intensely conversing on the phone with a dear friend.  In truth, I would like that moment to involve anything other than what it actually did involve:

Blank staring.  A dirty kitchen sink.  And one exhausted woman.

But in an effort to be completely authentic,  I will confirm that I was, indeed, emptily gawking at said sink when it happened.  An enormous crash.  Followed by a random object hitting me squarely in the back of the head.

I turned to see my son standing on a chair looking sheepish.  My daughter, in her high chair holding decorative berries in her hand.  And my resin cross that normally rested on our buffet, in pieces on the floor.

My reaction was less than gracious.  I most likely shouted “Noooooo!!!”  “Aaccckk!!!” or “What in the world?”  Something not terribly brilliant but definitely too dramatic for the demise of a $10  cross from Hobby Lobby.

As I huffed and puffed while looking for a lone candle that had also vanished, I caught something out of the corner of my eye:

It was my son.  Who had since climbed down from the chair.  And was now systematically gathering the pieces of the cross.

I stopped for a moment and just watched him. He lovingly picked them up.  Made a pile.  And began attempting to put the pieces back together.

I sat down beside him and said, “What are you doing, buddy?”

Focused on the task at hand, he kept working but managed to say quietly, “Jesus died on the cross for me.”

Suddenly, all the frustration over the mess melted away.  I took his sweet face in my hands.  And spoke words that were really meant for me. “You’re right, Drew.  And just like you, He takes all our broken pieces and puts them back together to make something beautiful.”

A few hours later, I took the time to painstakingly put the cross back together.  Piece by piece.  Super-gluing my thumb and forefinger together several times.

But I even didn’t mind that so much.

You see, my broken cross was more beautiful than it had ever been before. 

Now, when I look at it, I won’t just see a cheap resin cross from Hobby Lobby.  I will, in fact, see something far more precious.  Something that will keep me fixed on a simple truth that often I miss in my journey with Jesus.

That something echoes back to me in my son’s simple utterance, “Jesus died on the cross for me.”

Over and over again, I hear it.  It floods my mind with its simplicity.  And takes my breath away at its sufficiency.

But its power screams to me as I say the words out loud…

The cross really is enough.

In our humanness, we will try to obsess about brokenness just as I did the mess.  Or we will focus on fixing what is broken, as my son did with the cross.  We will attempt to do this with friends, with spouses, with children and even with ourselves.

But the cross is enough. 

Lay friends before its shadow.  Or spouses.  Or children.

Or even yourself.

It is as Isaiah reminds us, “He was beaten so we could be whole.”

And it is why on my buffet, you will find a broken cross.

Chipped.  Slightly crooked.  And beautifully missing a tiny piece in the center.

Couched by the offending decorative berries.  Near a picture of the little hands that tried so earnestly to put it back together.  And placed visibly for all to see.

Our daily reminder that Jesus picks up our broken pieces.  Puts them lovingly back together.   And makes us perfectly whole.

Sara Cormany is mommy to six-year-old Grace, four-year-old Drew and one-year-old Sophie.  When she is not wiping noses, changing diapers or chasing after runaway candles, she is a sometimes writer and a sometimes teacher to teenagers.  But her most cherished role is that of one who is perfectly held by Jesus. She loves watching Him take the broken, the messy and the seemingly mundane of her everyday and turn it into something beautiful. 

Linking up today with Beholding Glory.

Easter Reminders

A cross and a stone. Those are the images of Easter. One represents death. The other life. Without one, there is no need for the other.

The cross

Over the years, the cross has lost it’s gruesomeness. We’ve prettied it up. We wear the reminder around our necks, we hang it on our walls. When we look at it, we don’t see what the Jews of Jesus day saw. We don’t see a symbol of death and oppression. We see only a symbol of hope. We see a symbol of sacrifice.

Yet, for centuries, the cross was a tool of oppression. The Jewish people did not use crucifixion as a form of punishment. It was reserved for the Roman government. And you didn’t have to commit a horrific crime to find yourself hanging from one. You could steal something or speak out against the government. The cross wasn’t just a tool of execution. It was a public deterrent to dissent.

And that’s where Jesus died — on a human government’s tool to suppress revolt. He died on a hill in full view of everyone, his crime posted on a sign above His head. At any time, Jesus could have climbed off the cross. He could have taken over, sent everyone fleeing in the face of His awesome power. But He didn’t. He stayed on that cross and died, bearing the weight of the sin of the world. All so we could be free — not from an oppressive government, but from the separation from God. And in that moment, the cross became a symbol not of death and oppression, but a symbol of love.

The stone

It was big. It was heavy. It was unmoveable by one person. The stone that covered the entrance to the tomb was an obstacle to the living. Yet, even the heavy stone could not keep Jesus in the grave.

When the women arrived at the tomb on Sunday morning, that stone, that keeper of death, was rolled away. The tomb was empty. And it would stay that way. This was no mistake. No one had taken Jesus’ body. He had been dead for three days and then came back to life.

Without the stone, there is no redemptive power in the cross. Without the stone, Jesus would just be another man who claimed to be God. It is only because of the stone that the words of John 3:16 mean anything. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Only a living God can promise eternal life. Jesus’ death means nothing without His resurrection.

The cross is useless without the stone.

Create reminders

As Easter approaches, as we take our kids to Good Friday and Easter services, we nee to help them understand that the importance of Easter lies not just in the cross but in the stone as well. Create a reminder of the importance that the tomb was empty.

Sometime this weekend, give your kids a cross made of twigs and a rock from the yard. Explain that they are reminders of the two events that make Easter so important. Jesus died on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins. It represents the fact that Jesus loves us and wants us to have a relationship with Him. Jesus rose from the grave three days later. The stone represents the amazing power of a living God. It reminds us that Jesus is who He said He is, and He holds power even over death.

The cross and the stone. Two important reminders of what Easter means to us.

Linking up today with Raising Mighty Arrows.