I never thought about what the symbol really meant. Not what it meant before the empty tomb. Before the stone rolled away. I never thought about what it meant to the people on the streets. What it meant to the people watching it rise up in the sky, hanging with a living body. What it meant to the followers.
Then we, my husband and I, were reading our devotional, and I turned to the reading for the day. In his Live Bible there was a 'pop out' that spoke about the cross and crucifixions. What it meant to Romans, to Hebrews, to conquered people. It meant death, it meant oppression, it meant the heavy hand of the sword wielding Roman machine. It reminded us that it took centuries for the horror of the cross to grow into a symbol of hope - the empty cross. The empty tomb, the empty cross - our salvation paid, our redemption secured.
The cross, empty or filled, tells us many things...it tells us about prices paid, it tells us about burdens born, it tells us about lives tied together in love, blood and tears. The full cross is the weight He bore to redeem us, the full weight of the sins of humankind. The empty cross, the redeemed and cleaned. The empty cross pointing towards an empty tomb. The faith of the women on the road, the touching of fingers to cruel nail holes, the absolute grace of being saved for the sole reason of love.
In the centuries before the cross was a symbol to be worn, Christians would draw an arc on the ground, a fellow believer would then draw the opposite arc. This completed the simple fish that symbolized the followers of Christ, the 'Fishers of Men'. This secret symbol became a tattoo, a small mark indicating sanctuary. I love the symbol of the fish, those two lines, the Ichthys, meaning so much.
On this Easter Saturday, between the Crucifixion and the resurrection I'm not thinking just of crosses, I'm thinking of fish. Jesus, in his last moments, was weaving nets of love to catch us all to Him. The birth of hope, into love. The birth of grace, into love. The catching of us, in our fall, and raising us up to grace.
Jesus went fishing again, after the resurrection, in John 21:1-17 He reminds them of his first fishing trip with them in Mark 1:17. He wants them to set their nets to love, cast far and wide in the world.
On this Easter Saturday I'm going to be studying and praying about crosses and fishes...