The Devotion to Christ – Take up thy Crucifix and wear it

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By Brian Cook

Do you wear a Crucifix? If not, why? Maybe you’d say like I used to say, “I wear a cross and not a crucifix because Jesus is not on there anymore.”

I’d like to argue from Scripture for the Crucifix. It is not a Catholic thing; it is an evangelistic thing. In fact, it’s not a “thing” at all. the Crucifix is the most important example we can put forth to the world of the most profound statement ever made. It is the most important symbol of all time – It is the ultimate message.

1 Corinthians 2:2 says, “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

In the Catholic Mass, the very first image we see when the congregation stands and faces the back of the Church to welcome the start of the procession is a large crucifix fixed on a pole and held in a place of prominence in front of the altar servers, deacons and priest. As the crucifix and the procession passes, we “cross ourselves” and bow slightly, then we all turn to face the altar. There again we are greeted with an enormous crucifix at the front of the sanctuary. We see Crucifixes everywhere hung around every neck. Why? Again, I refer you to 1 Corinthians 2:2. When we back up and read 1 Corinthians Chapter 1, it’s not hard to envision St. Paul looking at a crucifix as he wrote it.

If we back up in the Bible, we find a most interesting story. Old Testament stories oftentimes show us in physical form what we as New Testament believers experience in spiritual form. Because of sin, God punishes the congregation of Israel by sending serpents into the camp (Numbers 21:4-9). This story is instructive for us as a reminder that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

As an answer to prayer, Moses is instructed to hold up and make visible a most despicable image for all to see. The very thing that reminded the Israelites that their sin was to blame for their own suffering and the suffering of others also served as the source of salvation.

Jesus takes up this image in his conversation with Nicodemus in John Chapter 3. The well-known brass serpent story is elevated and offered to the Pharisee as a “sign” impossible to miss. Jesus even says that the Son of Man “must be” lifted up as the serpent was in the wilderness. For sin to be defeated, the Son must be the serpent, the “fiery serpent” must become the bloody sacrifice and the pole must be the cross. Yes, it must be that “the very thing that reminded them that their sin is to blame for their own suffering and the suffering of others, also serves as the source of salvation.”

From that day forth, we have lifted up “the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 6:14). We are reminded, and the whole world is instructed, that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” Yes, we are not ashamed of the crucifix, for as Jesus said, “if I am lifted up….I will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:32).

There is a song by Dennis Jernigan that sets the crucifix before our eyes. Some of the lyrics are “It was my sin that nailed Him there, it was my cross He had to bear, it was His blood that washed me clean, no greater love has this world ever seen! You died for me, You washed me clean, I am redeemed, worship the King.”

Yes our weak, beaten, bloodied and crucified Lord is our King. Having a tangible image of His suffering to touch, like Thomas touching the nail and spear wounds, helps us to believe (John 20;24-27).

I strongly encourage you to wear a crucifix. Have crucifixes in your home, in your church, above your doors, around your neck, in your heart, on your mind and ever before your eyes. This physical object tells the story of our sin and the great love of God, not in the past, but in the present. The Crucifix is the physical Gospel, shown forth and lived out for all the world to see.

Brian Cook is a Cropwell native and a graduate of Pell City High School, Gadsden State Community College and studied music and history at Jacksonville State. He and his wife Hope have five children. A self-described “on-again-off-again bi-vocational part-time” Protestant minister for almost 20 years, Brian converted to Catholicism in April 2021. They attend Saint James Catholic Church in Gadsden. With no formal training (Acts 4:13), Brian is active in the Catechetical training of children and adults. His book “The Devotion to Christ” can be found on Amazon. He is available for speaking and teaching engagements in any parish, church, or group setting. He may be contacted at thedtc@protonmail.com or thedevotiontochrist@gmail.com.

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