The cross upon which Jesus died is the eternal burial place of sin. When Jesus decided to take our burden of sin on His shoulders, He also chose to take the punishment too and die so that man could live eternally. The people chose for Jesus to die a Roman death on a cross, making the symbol of God’s promise a cross to show His love for mankind.
As Jesus died on the cross for us, the cross becomes a symbol of both death and life for all who chose to accept the gift of Jesus accepting our punishment on our behalf. To better understand the sacrifice, let us take a closer look at the many different ways the cross impacts life and faith. A deeper understanding of the cross will help you to fully comprehend the magnitude of the gift.
Christian quotes about the cross
“The cross is the center of the world’s history; the incarnation of Christ and the crucifixion of our Lord are the pivot round which all the events of the ages revolve. The testimony of Christ was the spirit of prophecy, and the growing power of Jesus is the spirit of history.” Alexander MacLaren
“His brokenhearted cry on the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do,” shows God’s heart toward sinners.” John R. Rice
“As Christ struggled up Calvary’s hill and bled upon it, His aim was to eradicate self-love and implant the love of God in the hearts of men. One can only increase as the other decreases.” Walter J. Chantry
“The most obscene symbol in human history is the Cross; yet in its ugliness it remains the most eloquent testimony to human dignity.” R.C. Sproul
“The cross shows us the seriousness of our sin—but it also shows us the immeasurable love of God.” Billy Graham
“1 cross + 3 nails = 4givin.”
“Salvation comes through a cross and a crucified Christ.” Andrew Murray
“It horribly skews the meaning of the cross when contemporary prophets of self-esteem say that the cross is a witness to my infinite worth. The biblical perspective is that the cross in a witness to the infinite worth of God’s glory, and a witness to the immensity of the sin of my pride.” John Piper
What does the Bible say about the cross?
Paul mentions the cross many times in the New Testament, using it to reference Jesus’ sacrifice in many letters to believers. A few pertinent verses in Colossians spell out the intent of Christ’s sacrifice. Colossians 1:20 says, “and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, whether things on earth or things in heaven have made peace through the blood of His cross.” Later in Colossians 2:14, Paul states, “having canceled the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”
In Philippians 2:5-8, Paul eloquently tells the purpose of the cross, saying, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, as He already existed in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped but emptied Himself by taking the form of a bond-servant and being born in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death: death on a cross.” All these verses demonstrate the intent of the cross was to serve as the burial place of for sin.
1. Colossians 1:20 “and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”
2. Colossians 2:14 “having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”
3. 1 Corinthians 1:17 “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”
4. Philippians 2:5-8 “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”
5. Galatians 5:11 “Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished.”
6. John 19:17-19 “Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle. 19 Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: jesus of nazareth, the king of the jews.”
What is the meaning of the cross in the Bible?
While the cross was the physical place of death for Jesus, it became the spiritual place of death for sin. Now the cross symbolizes salvation as Christ died on the cross to save us from the punishment of sin. Before Jesus, the simple shape meant death as it was a common punishment during the time for both Romans and Greeks. Now the cross offers hope as a symbol of love and a promise kept by God of redemption.
As early as Genesis 3:15, God promises a savior which He delivered on the cross. Even before His death on the cross, Jesus said to His disciples, “And the one who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. The one who has found his life will lose it, and the one who has lost his life on My account will find it.” Jesus gave us life by losing His own, showing the most incredible love possible, “greater loves has no one than this, that a person will lay down his life for his friends” (John 15.13).
7. 1 Peter 2:24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”
8. Hebrews 12:2 “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
9. Isaiah 53:4-5 “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”
10. John 1:29 “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
11. John 19:30 “So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.”
12. Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Was Jesus crucified on a cross or stake?
Jesus was crucified on a cross, not a stake; however, whether on a cross or a stake, the purpose is unchanged – He died for our sins. All four apostolic books give evidence to the device of Jesus’ demise. In Matthew, the people put, “This is Jesus the King of the Jews” above His head, leading us to believe there was a cross beam, the same beam Jesus carried.
Moreover, the crowd specifically tells Jesus to come down from the cross if He is the Son of God. Although, before Christ, there were four come forms of the cross used for crucifixion, and which one was used for Jesus may always be uncertain. The Greek word for cross is stauros and translates to “a pointed stake or pale” (Elwell, 309), which leaves some room for interpretation. The Romans used several forms of crosses, including a pole, stake, and inverted cross, and even a Saint Andrews Cross, which was shaped like an X.
Other verses in the Bible lend more credence to a traditional cross as found in almost all Christian symbolism. In John 20, Thomas said he would not believe he had seen Jesus unless he could nail holes in Jesus’s hands, and nails were not used for a stake or a pole but for a cross to keep the arms outstretched. No matter what version of a cross Jesus was on, He was on it to die on purpose for redemption.
13. Acts 5:30 “The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross.”
14. Matthew 27:32 “As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross.”
15. Matthew 27:40 “Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!”
The importance of the Cross
The entire Old Testament of the Bible leads up to the New Testament to lead to Jesus Christ and His death on the cross for human redemption. In the Old Testament, we see two main factors, sinful humans who cannot comply with the Law (the Ten Commandments) along with genealogy and prophecy leading to one man – Jesus. All that came before lead to Jesus. God has never forsaken His precious humans. First, He was with us on earth; then He sent His Son followed by the Holy Spirit to guide us and keep us connected to the Trinity.
All of these factors lead to the importance of the cross. Without the cross, we are stuck to take the punishment for our sins. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gracious gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” If Jesus had not died on the cross, we would have to die so blood could be shed to cover our sins. Jesus’ blood was capable of covering all of our sins because he was without sin.
Now instead of the cross symbolizing death, it symbolizes redemption and love. The cross became the greatest sacrifice and love story ever told, a gift from the Creator. Only with the cross can we live forever with God as Jesus fulfilled the Law and made a way man could be in God’s presence even in our sinful nature.
16. 1 Corinthians 1:18 “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
17. Ephesians 2:16 “and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.”
18. Galatians 3:13-14 “But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” 14 Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing he promised to Abraham, so that we who are believers might receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith.”
19. Romans 3:23-24 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
20. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”
21. Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
22. Romans 5:21 “so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
23. Romans 4:25 “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”
24. Galatians 2:16 “yet we know that a person is not justified[a] by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.”
The Trinity and the cross
Jesus boldly declared in John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.” Yes, He took human form by being born to a woman and living in mortal flesh, but He was not alone. While only His flesh died, God and the Holy Spirit did not leave Him but were there the entire time. As the three are one, God and the Holy Spirit are divine and not the material. Essentially, the Trinity was not broken at the cross. God did not abandon Jesus, nor did the Holy Spirit. However, they were not the flesh and were there instead in spirit.
Many people believe when Jesus said on the cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” It was proof God had abandoned Him to die alone, but quite the opposite is true. Jesus was taking our punishment and became one of us to take our death. Equally so, He took the words out of our mouths. Do we not ask God, why am I alone? Why aren’t you here for me? His statement allowed the human nature of doubting God and lack of faith to die with Him along with sin.
Moreover, this verse tracks back to Psalm 22 as a direct quote allowing Jesus to fulfill another prophecy. While Jesus in the flesh was on the cross, God gave His Son up to go to His death and stayed with Him, while the Spirit worked in Jesus to give Him strength by applying the Spirit. They are a team, each with their specific part.
25. Isaiah 9:6 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
26. John 10:30 “I and the Father are one.”
27. 1 John 3:16 “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers and sisters.”
Bible verses about Jesus’ death on the cross
Matthew brings the story of Jesus dying on the cross, followed in suit by Mark, Luke, and John. Each telling starts with Judas betraying Jesus, sending him before the governor Pilate with the charge of Jesus claiming to be King of the Jews. Pilate washed his hands of Jesus’ judgement leaving the decision to the Jews who chose to crucify Jesus on a cross.
The mental picture of Jesus’ death paints a scene of horror and hatred for the truth. Once the decision set into motion, the people ordered Jesus flogged by a device with multiple ropes each ending in a sharp object. His skin was flayed before He even went to the cross by His own people. They dressed Him like a king replete with a crown of thorns while mocking and spitting with an unparalleled vengeance.
Jesus took up the cross carrying it to Golgotha with the help of a man named Simon when He became too weak to continue dragging the massive beam. He refused a drink meant to lesson his pain before they nailed His hands and feet to the cross for him to suspend in humiliation before His murderers. Even in the last of His life, Jesus proved His love by saving a man on cross beside Him.
For hours He hung on the cross bleeding, His muscles tense and raw. He would have passed out frequently from the pain of the nails, the marks on His back, and the thorn punctures around His head. At the ninth hour when the pain to His flesh was too much, Jesus called upon God as He released His spirit to God. Only then did the people agree Jesus was indeed the Son of God.
28. Acts 2:22-23 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.”
29. Acts 13:29-30 “When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead.”
30. John 10:18 “No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”
31. 1 Peter 3:18 “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.”
32. 1 John 2:2 “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”
33. 1 John 3:16 “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers and sisters.”
34. Hebrews 9:22 “Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”
35. John 14:6 “Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.”
Why did Jesus suffer the way He did?
How horrible it is to think of Jesus suffering and dying an excruciating death when He was innocent. It makes you wonder, why did He have to suffer so to save us from sin? Could the Law have been fulfilled without the pain and anguish? Jesus suffered from the moment He became flesh, not just at His death on the cross.
Life is full of pain from being born, waking up with a painful back, stomach problems, tiredness, the list goes on and on. However, the pain on the cross was far more traumatic. Death on a cross was humiliating as you hung up for all to see with no way to care for your body. Agony degraded our Savior that day as he suffered first a beating and crown of thorns before having his hands and feet physically nailed to the cross.
His body was mutilated, flesh torn, and even the slightest movement would have caused agony. Flesh ripping around his hands and feet would have been unbearable as he tried to keep his body upright along with muscle spasms. No human who has not experienced torture can even begin to understand the horrendous death on a cross.
Again, though, why did Jesus need to experience this much pain to save us from sin? The answer is just as horrible to contemplate as the punishment. God gave us free will, and mankind – the Jews, the chosen people, God’s people – decided to hang Jesus. Yes, at any point God, or Jesus could have stopped the people or have chosen a different punishment, but that would have eradicated free will, and God has always wanted us to have the option to choose Him and not be robots who loved not of ourself. Unfortunately, with the good comes the bad along with the choice to torture our Savior.
Furthermore, Jesus knew what would happen, what He would suffer beforehand – as He is God – and He did it anyway. He told the disciples in Mark 8:34, “And He summoned the crowd together with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.” Jesus led by example, showing how harrowing a believer’s life would be, and yet Jesus did so willingly out of love for us.
36. Isaiah 52:14 “As many were astonished at you—his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind.”
37. 1 John 2:2 “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”
38. Isaiah 53:3 “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.”
39. Luke 22:42 “saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
40. Luke 9:22 “And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”
41. 1 Peter 1:19-21 “but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.”
Bible verses about taking up your cross
Jesus led by example of how to take up your cross by literally taking up our cross. In both Mark 8:34 and in Luke 9:23, Jesus tells the people that to follow Him, they must deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Him. The first breaks down to they must stop thinking about their needs and desires and take up Christ’s will. Second, the cross was a known enemy under Roman rule, and they knew the victim of such was forced to carry their cross to the spot they would be crucified.
When Jesus told the people to take up their cross and follow Him, He was explaining life as a believer would not be pretty, but painful to the point of death. To follow Jesus was to give up all parts of yourself, take up His will, and follow Him not man. Taking up your cross and following Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice with an eternal reward.
42. Luke 14:27 “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
43. Mark 8:34 “Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
44. Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
What does it mean that Jesus paid our debt in full?
Under the old covenant or the Law, we as sinners legally would have been bound to die. The Law was the Ten Commandments of which Jesus perfectly kept each which fulfilled the Law. Because of His obedience, the Law was fulfilled, and He was able to be a sacrifice as someone pure and keeping with the Law. He took our punishment of death for us and, by doing so, paid our Debt to God, who set the Law and the punishment of death. When Jesus died on the cross, He canceled out debt by sacrificing the blood necessary to allow us into the presence of God (1 Corinthians 5:7). Like the Passover, we are covered by Jesus’s blood, and no longer will our sin show to God.
45. Colossians 2:13-14 “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”
46. Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, and let us debate your case,” Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are as scarlet, They shall become as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be like wool.”
47. Hebrews 10:14 “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.”
How does the cross show God’s love?
When you look at a cross on a stained glass window or on a chain around your neck, you are not looking at an innocuous symbol, but of a painful reminder of the punishment you were spared because of Jesus’ sacrifice. He spent hours tortured, mocked, ridiculed, in horrible, agonizing pain to die for your sins. What greater love is there than to lay down your life for someone else?
The most beautiful love shown by the cross is how simple it is to be with God. No longer do you need to follow the Law as it was fulfilled, but now you must simply accept a gift handed to you. The path to God is straightforward, “…confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead and you will be saved.”
Not many would send their son to die to save someone else’s life, but God did. Before that, He gave us free will, so we had options, and as a gentleman, He does not force Himself on us. Instead, He let us have our way but gave us an easy way to choose Him. All this is possible because of the cross.
48. Romans 5:8 “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
49. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
50. Ephesians 5:2 “and walk in love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant sacrificial offering to God.”
The cross is not just a symbol for believers but a reminder of love. Jesus sacrificed Himself in the ultimate display of love to save us from our own rightful punishment for sin. The cross is not just two lines crossing but an entire love story of redemption and salvation and a personal testimony of the love Jesus has for you.