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Chapter 5

The cross on which Jesus our Lord and Savior died for our sins is the most commonly recognized and most universally accepted symbol for Christianity the world over. It symbolizes God’s great sacrifice, an offer of salvation to all of humanity and the promise of the resurrection.

There are three different styles of crosses Jesus might have died upon. Scholars are not completely sure as to which style it was. The first style is the Tau cross. It is in the shape of a “T”. The second style is referred to as the Latin cross. This cross is the most popular representation of the cross today and most likely the form Jesus died upon. The final style is the Y-shaped cross. This cross is not as popular as the first two, but still an option.

Tradition tells us that the cross our Savior died upon
was made of four different types of wood. The four types of wood where chosen by the Jews for their lasting properties, so that Jesus might hang on the cross forever. The footrest of the cross was made of cedar for its durability and resistance to rotting. Other woods used were the cypress, for its pleasant aroma that would offset the stench of death, the palm, a symbol of victory and olive wood for the inscription, a


symbol of the peace that would follow after Jesus was dead.

During the early days of the church, the cross as a Christian symbol was rarely used. Believers did not want to think about their Savior’s death. It was, after all, the instrument upon which He died.

After 325 A.D. the cross rose in popularity as a symbol of the Christian faith. It was in that year that Constantine conquered the Roman Empire and made Christianity its main religion. The cross of Jesus was supposedly found by Constantine’s mother, Helena, on May 3, 328 A.D. Tradition tells us it was buried deep underground where it was found with the other two crosses. Jesus’ cross was easily separated from the others when a woman, who was sick touched one of the crosses and was instantly healed.

Crosses fall into two major categories: the Greek (equal length arms) or Latin (shorter cross bar raised above the center). All crosses are variants of these two forms and quite a few variations there are indeed. F. R. Webber estimates that there are 400 different forms of the cross, with 50 of them playing a prominent part in the decoration of our churches and parishes.

Crosses have been used in all sorts of ways. They have accompanied names on contracts to show the trustworthiness of the deal. Crosses have been used as basic floor plans for churches, on the walls of

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© 2016 By Doug Gray. All Rights Reserved.