Symbols make up life: Flags around a dead man’s room, a Master’s degree, a rainbow, the cross.
A symbol is something that represents an idea or relationship. Sometime ago I was asked to visit a dying man and his family in hospital. When I arrived, I was confronted with a scene of grief. He had just died an hour before. As I spent time with them, hearing the story and praying with them, I noticed something: the hospital room was full of an AFL club’s flags, posters and colours.
He had been a big fan and had been a member for many years of his life. As I sat there I realised there was no magical power in that AFL memorabilia. They were just symbols of a deep relationship he had with that club.
Recently I saw a Master’s Degree certificate. It was just a piece of paper with the students’ name and the grades achieved. The comment made was that this paper was symbolic of the true story behind that Master’s: that of two years of challenges and trials. It was a symbol of that sacrificial journey.
The Bible’s symbols
These stories made me think more deeply about the message of the Bible. The Bible is full of symbols. No, not secret codes but ways the message of Jesus is highlighted through certain objects or types. Like how the rainbow symbolises God’s promise (Genesis Chapter 9 verses 12-17 and Revelation chapter 21 verse 1). The temple is a symbol of the Emmanuel/Jesus to come and the atonement He made.
Symbols are everywhere. Most of the time they become white noise: for example, the Lord’s Supper can often lose its meaning in the routine. But the challenge is to stop and see beyond the object to what these symbols really represent. This has been my challenge recently.
My challenge to your: the cross
So how do you respond when you see a cross? Is it just some jewellery or fixture on a wall? Or can you see this symbol of a God that so loved the world that He sent His Son to rescue us by dying in our place (John chapter 3 verses 16 & 17).
As I reflected on this, it has reminded me of how the cross is a symbol that points to a restored relationship with God through Jesus. As I meditated on this I saw His power displayed through this cross and fulfilment of God’s plan.
This is such a simple symbol yet such a powerful life-changing message.
Jeremy Dover is a former sports scientist and Pastor
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