Inscribed For All Time

Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom

Luke 23:42
II Samuel 5:1-3; Psalm 122:1-5; Colossians 1:12-20; Luke 23:35-43

In most Christian traditions, the symbol of the Cross is fashioned from an upright and one crosspiece. However, in the Russian Orthodox tradition, it is shaped somewhat differently. In addition to the usual vertical and one crosspiece, there are two additional elements. One is positioned above the center piece and the other down toward the foot. The small one above represents the sign hung over the crucified Lord’s head, bearing the inscription, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”

The crosspiece at the foot depicts the wooden block, cruelly placed under Jesus’ feet for support, to prevent Him from dying too quickly. This crosspiece is set on the upright at a slant to indicate how Jesus must have pushed down hard with one foot when the pain became most severe. Therefore, unlike the empty Cross, which many Christian traditions use as a sign of Jesus’ victory over suffering and death, the Russian Cross emphasizes, with equal validity, that Jesus suffers still, wherever anyone suffers…

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