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The Savior’s Cross

At a Jewish mob’s urging, Pilate ruled in favor of capital punishment by crucifixion for Jesus Christ. Jesus endured scourging and then “he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha” (John 19:17) outside the walls of Jerusalem. “And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews” (John 19:19).

And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left. And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors.
And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, Save thyself, and come down from the cross.
Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save. Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him (Mark 15:27–32).

The cross became not only the means of Jesus’ execution, but also the symbolic object of criticism, sarcasm, and manipulation. Ironically, Jesus did bear the burden of the world, was the King of the Jews, and could have saved Himself from the tortuous cross. He fulfilled His Father’s will by allowing Himself to die, so that He could break the bonds of death and hell through His resurrection.

Symbol of the Cross

crucifixion of Christ

To many Christian sects, this figure symbolizes Christ’s crucifixion and atonement, and is extensively displayed throughout cathedrals, churches, and as personal adornment as an emblem of highest devotion.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not use the cross in its architecture. Latter-day Saints prefer instead to include the crucifixion in the Savior’s atoning mission as a whole and honor the sacramental emblems the Savior established as symbols for His life’s mission of atonement, including the crucifixion.

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.
And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins (Matthew 26:26–28).

Though the cross is not displayed in its buildings, the Savior’s atonement is the main doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ, evident through ordinances — sacred rituals — and covenants — sacred promises made to God. Only through Christ can mankind return to God.

When asked “If you do not use the cross, what is the symbol of your religion?” President Gordon B. Hinckley replied,

This was the cross, the instrument of His torture, the terrible device designed to destroy the Man of Peace, the evil recompense for His miraculous work of healing the sick, of causing the blind to see, of raising the dead. This was the cross on which He hung and died on Golgotha’s lonely summit.
On Calvary He was the dying Jesus. From the tomb He emerged the Living Christ. The cross had been the bitter fruit of Judas’s betrayal, the summary of Peter’s denial. The empty tomb now became the testimony of His divinity, the assurance of eternal life, the answer to Job’s unanswered question: “If a man die, shall he live again?” (Job 14:14).
And so, because our Savior lives, we do not use the symbol of His death as the symbol of our faith. But what shall we use? No sign, no work of art, no representation of form is adequate to express the glory and the wonder of the Living Christ. He told us what that symbol should be when He said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
As His followers, we cannot do a mean or shoddy or ungracious thing without tarnishing His image. Nor can we do a good and gracious and generous act without burnishing more brightly the symbol of Him whose name we have taken upon ourselves. And so our lives must become a meaningful expression, the symbol of our declaration of our testimony of the Living Christ, the Eternal Son of the Living God. [1]

Metaphorical Crosses

Knowing His life’s path led to Calvary, Jesus taught mankind that He was The Way. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).

In one sense, crosses metaphorically depict man’s trials and persecutions in overcoming the wicked world. “And he that will not take up his cross and follow me, and keep my commandments, the same shall not be saved” (Doctrine and Covenants 56:2).

The cross also became a symbol of obedience and consecration as disciples follow the path Christ prepared.

And now for a man to take up his cross, is to deny himself all ungodliness, and every worldly lust, and keep my commandments.
Break not my commandments for to save your lives; for whosoever will save his life in this world, shall lose it in the world to come. And whosoever will lose his life in this world, for my sake, shall find it in the world to come.
Therefore, forsake the world, and save your souls; for what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (JST Matthew 16:25–29).