Many beautiful songs have been written about the cross. We’ve made jewelry and designed shirts, bumper stickers, and bookmarks to remind us of what Jesus did for us on the cross. I have a beautiful, hand-carved cross that a dear friend brought back from Israel. The cross is an emblem, a symbol, a mark to remind us of the great sacrifice Jesus made for us to be free.
Every now and then, it’s good for us to go back to the cross and think about all that it represents. Maybe today you, like me, need a reminder of the power of the cross.
May my cry come before you, O LORD; give me understanding according to your word. May my supplication come before you; deliver me according to your promise. May my lips overflow with praise, for you teach me your decrees. May my tongue sing of your word, for all your commands are righteous. May your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts. I long for your salvation, O LORD, and your law is my delight. Let me live that I may praise you, and may your laws sustain me. I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands (NIV).
We have come to the end of Psalm 119, all of which is an acrostic of the Hebrew alphabet with every eight verses devoted to a Hebrew letter. These eight verses all begin with the letter tav. The ancient pictograph for tav is two sticks in the shape of a cross. Remember, this alphabet was given to the Hebrews thousands of years before Christ came to earth.
Unlike our alphabet, each Hebrew letter has a meaning. The meaning of the word tav is “mark, sign, or covenant.” So in this letter we see that thousands of years ago, God gave us the cross as a sign of covenant. Isn’t that beautiful?
Wait until you see this! The word truth in Hebrew is emet. Emet is spelled with the letters aleph, mem, and tav. Aleph is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet and means “father.” Mem is in the very middle of the alphabet and means “water” or “Spirit.” And tav is the last letter, meaning “cross.” How cool is it that the very word truth contains the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the One who said He is the first and the last, the beginning and the end, the Aleph and the Tav?
Tav is the first letter of the word tikkun, which means “redemption,” teshuvah, which means “repentance,” and Torah, which means “teachings,” referring to the Word of God. The cross is literally the beginning of redemption, repentance, and the Word of God.
So, what does the cross mean to you?
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with all its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross (Colossians 2:13-15).
The “written code” was a business term that referred to a certificate of debt. In our sinful nature, we are enemies of God, because we owe a debt that we cannot pay–a sin debt. We simply cannot live up to God’s holy requirements on our own. Left to my own devices, I am a total mess. That written code is holy and beautiful, but it stands opposed to us because we cannot keep it. BUT GOD had a plan to cancel that debt before time began. It is written in His alphabet.
He nailed it to the cross. Right along with the beautiful hands and feet that brought us the good news.
Jesus triumphed over the enemy and He canceled all our debt. That is the power of the cross. Two beams of wood that represented death and shame have come to represent forgiveness and freedom.
But there’s more.
When our debt is canceled, our commitment begins. I don’t know about you, but when someone is good to me and cancels a debt that I owe, I want to be good right back.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me (Matthew 16:24).
You see, Jesus took up the cross for you; now you should take up the cross for Him. What does that mean? I can only tell you what it means to me. I am fully devoted and committed to follow Jesus, wherever and whatever that means. I am committed to lay down my own desires to fulfill His desires for me (which are always better!) It means committing myself 100% to walk by faith and follow His ways and His Words. I may fail, but I will always try with His help.
Why? Because that is the least that I can do for the one who canceled my debt, who triumphed over sin, death, and hell for me. The cross represents so much to us as believers. It is the place of redemption, healing, deliverance, salvation, power, victory, and peace! The enemy was defeated at the cross. Hell was defeated at the cross. No matter who we are or where we have been, the ground is level at the cross.
Sometimes the cross gets heavy and seems too much to bear, but remember that for the joy set before Him–that joy was you and me–Jesus endured it. So can we–with our eyes fixed on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, the true Aleph and the Tav.
So today, let’s think about the power of the cross in our lives. May the story never get old. May the emblem never become common. May the songs always ring in our hearts.