The most iconic symbol in all of humanity; the Cross. However, since its invention, it was the tool of great suffering and captial punishment for those who championed it.
Introduced by the Romans, in the beginning was used against those who could not prove they were not Roman citizens but later was to be used against theives and other malefactors. “The punishment of the cross remained in force throughout the Roman Empire until the first half of the fourth century.
In the early part of his reign Constantine continued to inflict the penalty of the cross (affigere patibulo) on slaves guilty of delatio domini, i.e. of denouncing their masters (Cod. Th. ad leg. Jul. magist.).
Later on he abolished this infamous punishment, in memory and in honour of the Passion of Jesus Christ (Eusebius, Church History I.8; Schol. Juvenal., XIV, 78; Niceph., VII, 46; Cassiod., “Hist. Trip.”, I, 9; Codex Theod., IX, 5, 18).” – Catholic Encyclopedia.
The Cross of Christ
Although we Christians see the crucifixion as the symbol of redemption and salvation, to the Jews was a curse. For according to the Jew, it was a great dishonor and eternal curse for one to ‘hang on a tree'[Galatians 3:13].
This of course meant not only to hang from the neck as though by noose but also by crucifixion. This was to further the purpose of the complete humiliation of Christ on the cross.
You must understand, that Jesus endured ALL forms of abuse for not only our flesh but more importantly our souls. We know of course that Jesus was not cursed due to the nature of His death but rather the exact opposite.
Our Lord went willingly to the Cross so that all MIGHT be saved [Colossians 1:20]. I said, “might” because even Jesus knew that not ALL would benefit from His death and eventual resurrection [Mark 14:24].
The Joy of the Cross
Make no mistake about it, to be crucified is no joyful experience. So what can it mean that joy could possibly emanate from the torture device which is the cross? Simply put, our Lord Jesus Christ told us without the cross, we cannot hope to know Him [Luke 14:27]. Jesus told us that if we are to follow Him, we must ‘deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow Him daily’.
In other words, we all have troubles, fears, and pains but in order to be a disciple of Christ, you must face your problems while maintaining trust and obedience to the words and instructions of Christ. But the ‘crosses’ in our life can be very painful to endure, how are we to bear them joyfully?
It is because to bear with your sufferings with patience and joy for the sake of Christ is the path to salvation.
We are to recognize that all things that happen are permitted by God. However, it is not God’s will that evil should happen so therefore God makes out of evil a greater good. This is why the cross, a former horror to behold, is now because of Jesus Christ, the symbol of life and power over death [1 Cor.1:18].