"Cross" is a short word of only five letters, but break it apart and it contains the whole story of the Bible. C.R.O.S.S.—Creation, Redemption, One nation, Separation, Salvation. The story of the Bible is our story, too, and each of these stages helps us get the "big picture" of our life in Christ. Follow the whole series here.
A nun I read about wore a crucifix every day when she went to the city school where she taught third grade. One little boy couldn't take his eyes off it, and finally he could stand it no longer. He raised his hand to speak. "Sister," he said, "that's a nice necklace you have there. But what's that man doing hanging on that stick?"
There was a day when "dying for your sins, Johnny" would have been a fine answer, but that's no longer enough. "What sins?" would likely be the next question, followed by why anyone would have to die for them. The best way to make sense of the cross is to go back to the beginning where it all began.
The first stage in the story of the CROSS, as recorded in the Bible, begins with a C: Creation. The word itself presumes someone else is present, a Creator—and sure enough, "In the beginning, God…" God's person and actions, God's response and plan permeate the start of the story. In the beginning, God creates a place; God creates people; and God creates a plan to save them.
God creates a place
God started everything by creating the universe and our world in it as a place of beauty and order and goodness. The ancients saw the earth as a cosmic temple, and that is how it is described in Genesis: as a temple complete with a sanctuary for worship (the Garden of Eden). Everything had its place, and everything in it glorified God by being and doing what it was created to be and do.
God creates people
Creation was incomplete without someone to enjoy and take care of it and worship. In fact, its whole purpose was to be a habitation for the people God created next "in his image" (Genesis 1:27 NABRE). Adam and Eve are in God's image in who they are—they can reason and they have wills and can love—and in what God charges them to do—be fruitful and multiply and share God's dominion and rule.
God gives them rules so they will know how to live and be blessed. But a serpent (traditionally identified with the devil) insinuates that God does not have their best interests at heart. It tempts them to go their own way and decide for themselves what is right. Even though God told them this will mean death, they believe and follow the serpent instead. With this first sin, humankind steps out of relationship with God. Their reason is darkened, their will is weakened, and their love turns in on themselves. Suffering and death enter the world.
Humankind has a formidable enemy in the serpent. God announces an ongoing war between their offspring: the seed of the serpent will hurt the seed of the woman, God says, but the seed of the woman will ultimately crush the serpent's head (Genesis 3:15). Theologians have called this the protoevangelium – literally, the "first gospel." It is the first "good news" in the Bible.
The results of this first sin are obvious in the next generations. As the earth is populated, two sorts of people emerge: those who worship God and those who go the way of the serpent, choosing their own way over God's way. Most go their own way.
God creates a plan to save them
Only divine intervention could bring people back into a right relationship with God, and intervene God did. God called Abraham to leave his own pursuits and follow to a new place where God promised to make of him a great new people who would share in God's rule and blessing (Genesis 12:1-3). When Abraham showed his faith in God by his obedience, by being willing even to sacrifice his own son, God saved that son and made a solemn covenant oath to do as promised (Genesis 22:1-19). The story of the Bible will now focus on the story of Abraham and his family, through whom God will bring blessing to the entire world.
Find yourself in the story
The Almighty God lovingly created you in God's image.
Even though you may have chosen to go your own way instead of God's, God calls you like God called Abraham to the obedience of faith (Romans 16:26). God has a plan to reconcile you that you might be fruitful, blessed, and a blessing to others.
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide. (John 15:16a RSV)
Want to learn more about the Bible's beginnings?
Thanks to the support of our faithful financial partners, American Bible Society has been engaging people with the life-changing message of God’s Word for more than 200 years.
Help us share God's Word where
Sign up to receive Bible-reading tips, tools and resources.