Stealing the Cross

It is amazing to walk through the Roman Colosseum!  The historical significance is staggering and the spiritual implications are overwhelming. The Colosseum looms over Rome and is so huge and powerful in appearance, but this is nothing compared to the significance it has in history. Here great battles were recreated for massive audiences, gladiators fought to the death, wild animals battled, and Christians were fed to the lions.  Different Caesar's reigned over the festivities and people all over the world at that time marveled at the thought of seeing the incredible shows and barbarism.  A focal point in the Colosseum today is a metal cross that stands where Caesar stood and ruled over the festivities.

As was explained by an "expert tour guide" on a previous trip, the cross was a symbol used to show the place where Caesar stood in power and made his judgments. The cross was a symbol of his power and judgment since it symbolized his power to condemn people to death.  It's unsettling to think that this symbol that represents an act of sacrificial love to those of us who are Christians today was used to inspire fear and hatred in it's day.  An intriguing thought to me is that Domitian (as well as other Caesar's) saw this as a symbol of power for them, but it ended up being a symbol of love for Christ.  In essence, Jesus stole the cross from them as a symbol and adopted it as His own.  Today when you look at this cross in Rome you don't think of Domitian, Titus or any Roman ruler, you think of the son of a Nazarene carpenter, the kind and loving teacher, and the Son of God who was willing to die for those who would choose to take up their cross and follow Him.

There were many who were held beneath the floor of the Colosseum and were given a choice: deny Jesus and walk away with your life or defend the name of Jesus, proclaim your allegiance to Him and go out and face the lions.  Caesar might believe he was in charge, but the Christians at that time looked beyond Caesar to their ultimate ruler, Christ, and faced the lions.  The cross of Caesar had lost it's power.  They focused on the cross of Christ.

One amazing thing about walking in the footsteps of those who lived in New Testament times is that it makes you think back to those who followed Christ in the past and it strengthens your resolve as you follow Him today. I am grateful to be able to experience something like this and share some thoughts with you.

More updates, thoughts and photos to come...

In Him, Chris

 

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