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Meaning of the Cross

A lambs life taken for the life of a guilty sinner

QUESTION:  Dear pastor, I would like to know more about the cross of Jesus Christ. What did that event stand for in terms of our salvation? What is the meaning of the cross? Thank you in advance. Brendah.


Praise God, Brendah, and thank you for the question. I am glad you used the terms ‘event’ and ‘meaning’ on matters of the cross. I like ‘event’ because the death of Jesus on the cross is a historical event.

The practical and historical gesture of a bleeding and hanging God on the cross stood for our redemption. At the cross, God redeemed us and redemption is key to our salvation.

To understand what redemption means, you need to refer to the ancient cultures in the Old Testament.

In ancient cultures redemption was a social, legal, and religious custom.

The practice implied the idea of setting free a slave, buying back property lost or sold on behalf of another, exchanging something for another and ransoming.

Three redemption terms

Redemption involves deliverance from bondage, based on the payment of a price by a redeemer. In the Old Testament, there are three key Hebrew terms translated as redemption.

The first is Pada; which is a legal term concerning the substitution required for the person or animal redemption. Human firstborns were redeemed, either by the substitution of an animal or by payment of a fixed sum of money (Numbers 18:16).

The second one is Gaal; it is a legal term for deliverance of a family’s property. A kinsman-redeemer who has a claim on what is bound through family relations.

According to Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary, “it was the duty of a man’s redeemer, usually his next of kin, to buy back the freedom that his relative had lost through debt”.

An example of such “redemption” is found in Leviticus 25:47-49, where an Israelite who had to sell himself into slavery because of poverty. He would be redeemed by a kinsman or by himself.

Property sold under similar conditions could likewise be redeemed, thus keeping it within the family (Leviticus 25:24-25; Ruth 4:1-6; Jeremiah 32:6-9).’

The third is Kapar; which means to cover. To cover sin, atone, or make compensation are associated meanings. It was largely used in the Old Testament sacrificial system.

The sacrificed lambs and goats, redeemed a sinner from immediate punishment. Jesus Christ symbolised the ultimate sacrifice at the cross and redeemed us from sin (Hebrews 10:4-1).

Meaning of the Cross

The cross symbolises a God who became our kinsman (Hebrews 2:14-18), through incarnation (John 1:14) and redeemed us. God in flesh is the firstborn in whom we receive our redemption (Exodus 12:29; Colossians 1:14-15).

His blood at the Cross atoned for the blood debt we had with Satan. The cross signifies restoration and redemption of our original freedom before the fall of man (Adam and Eve). Jesus, at the cross ransomed us from Satan, the former slave master. He took off all the chains and declared us free.

It is your choice

A story is told of a slave master who had a disobedient slave, who refused to work under all circumstances and the slave master decided to sell him off.

When they got to the slave market, the same slave started yelling at all potential buyers, warning that he would not work for any one.

This took almost the whole day and all buyers were discouraged. Finally in the evening, one buyer insisted and bought him, regardless of his threats.

After he had paid for him, he directed that all chains be removed. He looked him in the eyes and told him that he was free to go. The former slave, confused about the whole act, decided to follow the man that set him free.

We, therefore, have a choice of following Jesus, who redeemed us at the cross or turn back to the master (Satan) who held us in chains.

Answered by
Pr Isaiah White
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