Sunday, May 22, 2011

C-h-r-i-s-t

In my sermon today, I made mention of the fact that I’m not a bumper sticker guy…but I did just recently put a bumper sticker on my ’96 Chrysler for the very first time. I think it’s a very cool twist off of the “coexist” bumper stickers that you see all the time.

One of the neat things about worshiping in a movie theater is that I can use the screen to show imagery and symbolism that teaches the truths of the Bible. In case you missed it this morning (or you haven’t seen my rusty red car driving around Franklin), it looks like this:



I got it from this website. And on this site there’s an informative description of what each of the symbols mean as they tell the story about what makes Jesus Christ unique among all the founders of any religion, philosophy or worldview.

C – The Open Tomb: The first symbol portrays the foundational fact of Christianity: the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate proof of Jesus’ divinity and work. Such a tremendous event caused Jesus’ witnesses to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth. Sunday, he day on which Christ rose became the day on which Christians worship. Without the resurrection Jesus’ life and death and the cross would have been meaningless. As the Apostle Paul says, “And if Christ had not been raised your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17 NIV).


H- The Lamb of God (Agnus Dei): The second symbol functioned as one of the earliest depictions of Jesus Christ. The lamb reminds Christians that Jesus Christ is the perfect sacrifice for sins. In the Old Testament the blood of the Passover lamb rescued the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Likewise, the blood of Jesus Christ rescues God’s people from sin. The lamb is pictured with a banner representing his victory on the cross. The simple gospel proclamation is best summed up by John the Baptist, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).


R – The Chi-Rho (Kee-Roe): The third symbol, also known as the Chistogram, is one of the earliest symbols used by Chrsitians. The Chi-Rho is formed by the capital Greek letters Chi and Rho. Chi and Rho are the first two letters of “Christ” in Greek. The Greek language is of course the language that the New Testament was written in and also the language in which the early church blossomed. The Chi-Rho forms a cross which of course brings to mind the death of Jesus Christ. The significance of Jesus’ crucifixion is perhaps best summoned up by the prophet Isaiah some 700 years before the crucifixion, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:5-6 NIV).


I – The Star: The fourth symbol is the star of Bethlehem. The star represents Jesus Christ as the light of the world. Jesus is the light that pierces the darkness enabling the blind to see. For Gentiles (non-Jews) the star holds a special meaning as it was a star that God used to guide the Gentile Magi from the East to the Christ-child in Bethlehem. For Christians, Jesus is still the guiding star that gives direction, purpose and hope. Jesus proclaims this very truth when he says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12 NIV).


S – The Fish (IXTHUS): The fifth symbol consists of perhaps one of the most common Christian symbols both ancient and modern. The Christ Design fish symbol consists of two intertwined fish representing the fellowship enjoyed among Christians. Despite culture, background, and status Christians are made one in Christ. The fish is sometimes seen with a simple cross where the eye would be located. It is also seen with the word IXTHUS. IXTHUS is the Greek word for fish. It can also be used as an acrostic with each letter standing for a Greek word that sums of the central truth of Christianity: (I) Jesus (X) Christ (TH) God’s (U) Son (S) Savior. The fish is of course an appropriate symbol since many of Jesus’ first followers were fishermen. Jesus spent much of his time on the shores of the Sea of Galilee where one of his miracles consisted of multiplying fish to feed thousands of people. It was Jesus who gave his disciples and all Christians the simple command: “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19 NIV).


T – The Anchor: The final symbol of the Christ Design is one of the earliest symbols of Christianity and was found etched in the walls of Rome’s catacombs. The anchor contains within it a hidden cross. The anchor is a symbol of the hope that Christians have in Jesus Christ. He is the sure anchor that keeps us safe through the storms of life and death. The author to the Hebrews writes, “We have this hope for the anchor of our soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:17 NIV).


The meaning of the word Christ: The word Christ is a Greek word which means “Anointed One.” In the Hebrew it is “Messiah.” The title is appropriate for Jesus because he was anointed by his Heavenly Father for the work of mankind’s salvation. Those who were anointed in biblical times were prophets, priests, and kings. Jesus Christ is the ultimate fulfillment of all those roles. He is the prophet that has spoken to us the revelation of God. He is the king who lovingly rules over all things for the good of the church and he is the priest who not only intercedes on behalf of us but actually sacrificed himself for us. May Peter’s great confession be that of every Christian when he says to Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16 NIV).

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