Luke 9:23; Matthew 10:38, but I'm sure there are other verses in the Gospels and in Paul's writings that deal with what the symbol of the cross means. I know the cross is central in the New Testament. The cross as a symbol of discipleship (Matthew 16:24), etc.
ESV - 23 And he said to all, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
Community answers are sorted based on votes. The higher the vote, the further up an answer is.
I would say that the cross (in whatever context it is used in the New Testament) is a symbol of death. Most importantly, it represents the willing sacrifice by Christ of His own life to pay the penalty required by God for humanity's sin, and to make eternal life possible for all who place their faith in Him instead of in their own imperfect righteousness. In the case of the verses cited in the question, the symbolism involves the day-by-day killing by the Christian of the old, sinful self, and the choice to use the eternal life granted in its place by God as a result of faith in Christ in service to Him (even to the point of giving up one's own temporal life in such service, if necessary, rather than forsaking or disavowing Christ). The idea that an instrument of death could be used by God in the granting of eternal life to people is what makes the message of the cross (as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:18) seem to be foolishness to those who are perishing. It is the subsequent resurrection of Christ that gives the cross its greatest value as a symbol of the atonement for, and victory over, sin that only He could have accomplished (as also noted by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:13-22).
I think the best explanation for the cross as a symbol of the Christian faith is this: 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. (Galatians 2:20) The life we used to live is dead and gone. Jesus has given us a new life to live, an abundantly fulfilling and deeply satisfying life (John 10:10), that started the moment we put our faith in him and goes on forever. The symbol of Jesus’ actual death has become the symbol of the greatest possible hope for today and everyday.
Of course, literally, the Cross was the instrument upon which execution by crucifixion took place. And crucifixion then was a form of torture and execution in the ancient world that involved fixing a person to a wooden post or tree using ropes or nails; used in the execution of Jesus (FSB). 1. The cross symbolizes Obedient Submission (Wiersbe) -- Matthew 16:24 pp Mark 8:34. See too Matthew 10:38; Luke 14:27 but especially Luke 9:23 which I memorized as a new Christian a half century ago. It says, 23 “And He [Jesus] said to them all, ‘If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.’” The cross definitely symbolizes discipleship as Jesus was wanting more disciples to follow Him then, and He still wants more disciples to come follow Him today. Why not? In Luke 14:27, Jesus said, “And whosoever doth not ibear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” “There are no crown-wearers in heaven who were not cross-bearers here below.” - Charles Haddon Spurgeon 2. The Cross symbolizes Atonement (Wiersbe in his Index of Biblical Images). “God requires satisfaction because He is holiness, but He makes satisfaction because He is love.” - A.H. Strong The cross destroys the power of Satan (Colossians 2:13-15; Hebrews 2:14-15;) A favorite verse of mine is Colossians 2:15. The context has to do with the Cross and includes all 3 verses: 13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses; (God “quickened together with Him (Christ). Just as Christ’s resurrection proved that He was delivered from the sin laid on Him, so our spiritual quickening proves that we have been forgiven our sins (1 Pe 3:22).--JFB 14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross; 15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” (I once quoted the book of Colossians in chapel at the Arizona Bible College in Phoenix, AZ, after having been given the assignment—I didn’t know how to write a sermon yet.) The concept of propitiation, or atonement, is central to the Gospel of Jesus Christ who covers our sin and restores us. 3.The Cross symbolizes The Gospel Message or the gospel is referred to as the “message of the cross” (1 Corinthians 2:2; 1:17-18, 23. See BibleHub.com’s Dictionary of Bible Themes and look under the centrality of the cross. The Romans used the cross as a humiliating form of execution reserved for the worst criminals—insurrectionists. (FaithlifeStudy Bible). Some people to whom we share the Good News of Christ’s love will reject the message of the cross, but others will accept it. Those are the people we must reach!
All answers are REVIEWED and MODERATED.
Please ensure your answer MEETS all our guidelines.
A good answer provides new insight and perspective. Here are guidelines to help facilitate a meaningful learning experience for everyone.