The Cross

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“You forgot your cross.”

Mom’s voice through the cell phone was apologetic. My face scrunched up with disappointment.

My parents live almost two hours south, and my hubby and I had just arrived home after a 24-hour visit with them and out-of-state family for a birthday get-together. The final moments leaving my parents’ house are always chaotic: lugging clothes, stuffed animal comforts, books, reluctant kids, favorite pillows, and toiletry bags to our truck.

My beloved crystal cross lay where I left it the night before, on my parents’ guest bedroom dresser, clear and unobtrusive.

“I’ll bring it when we come up next,” she promised.

The cross is my one-and-only from Tiffany & Co. Around the time my hubby and I were seriously talking babies twelve years ago, he surprised me for our third anniversary with the simple, supple cross.

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The jewelry piece caught my eye during a daydreaming jaunt through a local mall’s Tiffany & Co, and was a last-hurrah splurge gift before we narrowed down to one income from two and our family expanded from two to three.

Do you have jewelry you wear every day?

I’m not a big jewelry person, but it’s a rare occasion you’ll find me without my engagement ring and ten-year anniversary band on my left and right ring fingers, along with the crystal cross around my neck.

At work, customers have commented on the cross’s unique beauty. My fingers often grasp its rounded edges, sometimes when I’m daydreaming and other times when I’m praying.

This Sunday our assistant pastor taught from 1 Corinthians 1, in an Easter series about the Cross.

Not my pretty crystal neck adornment.

The real thing.

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(This might get ugly.)

The wooden cross Romans used to crucify murderers and thieves.

Criminals. Bad people we would never choose to be around, people looked down upon as the scourge of society. People tortured then nailed upon two trees hewn together in the shape of a ‘T’.

In ancient times, death by crucifixion was the worst possible way to die. Typically slow and painful, it was also humiliating, as they often stripped the criminal of his clothing. The guards had free reign with criminals, doing whatever they wanted to inflict pain on them in order to deter others from committing the same crimes.

It’s pretty ugly to think about, to dwell on.

Pastor Mark made the valid point that you’d never, ever see anyone wearing a tiny guillotine or a little gold electric chair on a chain around their neck.

It just wouldn’t happen.

So why the Cross? Why is a symbol of torture worn by believers the world over?

“And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center” (John 19:17 & 18).

When I prayed about this post the word engraved on my heart was peace.

“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him” (Isaiah 53:4 & 5).

I wear my cross because it reminds me God’s sustaining peace is ONLY because of and through Jesus’s sacrifice on that awful, horrible, humiliating Cross. I don’t want to forget what Jesus paid for my sin, for your sin.

There was a price to pay for believers’ peace—for the gift of having a made-right relationship with our Creator and the promise of eternal life with God—and Jesus paid it on the Cross with His wounds, afflictions, and overwhelming chastisement.

With His humble acquiescence for God’s saving plan.

Lord, please don’t let me forget this, ever. It’s all about Jesus and the Cross.

I love my crystal cross. It’s pretty and unique, and I’ve missed wearing it while it’s at my parents’.

But it’s an ephemeral symbol.

Your soul is not.

Have you put your faith in Jesus’ finished work on the Cross?

“If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

The Scars That Stay

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“Do you think this scar will ever heal?” Cole stared down at the one-inch jag of bumpy skin on the top of his right foot.

“It’s healed. It’s just a scar. It’ll go away as your foot grows. It’ll probably be mostly faded by the time you’re a teenager.”

The memory of Cole getting the scar six plus years ago came back like a flash of lightning over the Gulf. My sister, our three boys, and I ventured out to Ft. Myers Beach on a muggy summer afternoon. We built sand castles, barely avoided gray-blue water walls of summer’s flash storms, licked melting ice cream, and enjoyed watching our youngsters run around like bathing-suit clad wild men, wrestling and digging in the cooled-off sand and shells underneath the setting sun.

During one of the last playful jaunts around the sand playground that evening, four-year old Cole let out a yelp, hobbling in my direction. Trickles of crimson streaked down his foot.

I rushed toward him, imagining a broken shell or piece of a broken bottle stuck in his tender sole.

Squinting through the twilight, I tried to figure out what Cole stepped on. He pointed to a four or five-inch long, green stick lying near his feet. Upon closer inspection, I realized he’d been poked on the top of his foot, not the bottom.

I found a band-aid, stopped the bleeding, and we began packing up for the night. After tucking the strange green branch in my beach bag, we headed home.

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Later, I learned that Cole had stepped on a Red Mangrove propagule. One end of the propagule is a relatively sharp, pliable barb intended to stick in the sand in order for the plant to begin new growth. The green bean-on-steroids seed pod had somehow jabbed the top of his foot, causing a decent puncture and a scar that’s still visible half a decade later.

Scars.

We all have them, each with its own story. Some scars bring us precious new life; others draw us too close to death.

First they hurt, then they heal. Eventually, they fade. Some are tiny, others gruesome, but always they’re marks of physical trials and emotional pain where healing occurred but memories remain.

During a sermon last year, our pastor noted that the only physical scar from earth we’ll see when we’re home in heaven are the scars on our Savior’s hands.

Jesus’ scars. The scars that stay. For you. For me.

Thomas and the disciples saw these scars after Jesus rose from the grave and spent time with them in His glorified body, before returning to His Father’s right hand in heaven.

“Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ So he said to them, ‘Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.’ And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst and said, ‘Peace to you!’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.’ And Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'” (John 20:24-29)

Instead of anger or indignation at Thomas’s stubborn skepticism, Jesus offered Thomas the opportunity to see and touch His scars. To believe. Thomas’s disbelief vanished upon seeing his beloved Teacher’s wounds — undeniable evidence that obliterated his doubt and quadrupled his faith.

As Easter draws near, and we’re inundated with chocolate, bunnies, and spring dresses that impress, don’t forget His scars. Even to the skeptic Jesus will show them — His pain that became our eternal gain. His sacrifice, for our salvation.

Amazing Grace.

Jesus.

 “See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands…” Isaiah 49:16