Being Baptist, I recognize the empty cross as a sign of the resurrection where Catholics recognize the cross bearing Jesus as the sign of the crucifixion. One clergy i heard said without Christ on the cross, it was only a sign of torture. Wouldn't Christ on the cross be a sign of torture?
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I think that the cross can mean many things to many different people, and I can certainly see how it could be a sign of all of the things that you mentioned. Indeed, Jesus was tortured by way of the cross, and indeed, it is a symbol of His resurrection. There are no specific instructions in the Bible about whether or not we should display the cross; furthermore, there are no specific instructions about whether or not Jesus should be on it if we do choose to display it. The one warning we have been given about such displays is that we are not to make them into idols of any kind (see 1 John 5: 21 and Exodus 20: 4), although there are many people that view such objects as idols in and of themselves, especially when Jesus is depicted on the cross. I think that the most important things for Christians to remember are that: 1) The cross is the one thing that sets us apart from all other religions. No other "god" ever gave him/herself up for mankind on the cross in order to bridge the gap between God and man. 2) Jesus instructs us to take up the cross and follow Him (Matt. 16:24) as evidence that we are His disciples. Laying our lives down for others is how we carry on Jesus' tradition and continue to draw people to Him. Whether Jesus is depicted on the cross or off of it in our places of worship, it should always serve as a reminder that we need to be imitators of Him.
I think the answer is both. Christ was torturerd in an absolutely horrible way. The word excruciating can be traced back to crucixion. But, the cross is also a symbol of Christ's absolute, unquenchable, intimate, and unfailing love for His creation. Just as a point of clarification, it's not the empty cross that's a sign of Christ's resurrection and conquering of death, it's the empty tomb.
Displaying the Cross is a continuous reminder to us and this world that would not want any thing Christ or Christian to be seen or so displayed. The cross is a witness and more than ever we should continue to live and wear it.
I've been encouraged with all three comments. As for torture: Jesus bore the wrath of God. God is not into torture (2Peter 3:9 God "is patient towards you, not wishing that any should perish), God is Just and justice was carried out on the behalf of man at the cross. PRAISE BE TO JESUS! We are not to represent God as one who tortures. God carries out justice. God is love and is nothing like us.
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