Though it was around 60 years ago, I have vivid memories of when the cross of Jesus Christ began to have meaning for me. It happened at a place called Vesper Point, which was a piece of land that jutted out toward the west into the east bay of Lake Bloomington, Illinois, USA. It was a Boy Scout camp which my denomination had rented for a few weeks of youth summer camp.
We did the things that were done at most church camps. Crafts. Softball. Tennis. Volley ball. Swimming. Then every evening we would have a devotional service shortly before bedtime at Vesper Point.
Most of the time, it was as you’d expect it to be with a bunch of boisterous kids. The counselors stayed busy keeping the boys from playing pranks on the girls while the camp preacher tried desperately to get and hold our attention with a lesson from God’s Word.
But something happened one evening which had to be the work of the Holy Spirit. We went to Vesper Point, as usual, and took our seats on the ground. I sat with the boy who had accompanied me to the camp. But from that point on, I only remember one thing. Not the pranks. Not the choruses we sang. Not the devotional which almost everyone ignored. I only remember three crosses.
They were planted at the water’s edge, and were backed by the setting sun. My eyes were fixed not on the center one, which would have represented Jesus’ cross. I was focused on the cross on my right. I didn’t know it at the time, but that was the one which most of the movies about Jesus’ life assign to the penitent thief.
Understanding the full meaning of those three crosses has been a lifelong process, but I think I finally have it. The center cross, of course belongs to Jesus. It was there where my sin nature and all of my personal sins were hung on the actual person of Jesus. He literally became the sin and sins of the world.
The cross on the left represented my pride, arrogance and self-righteousness. And yes, children can be possessed by those things. It was constructed by the devil himself, and he could only have been satisfied with my complete destruction, along with himself.
The cross on the right represented the mercy, grace and love of Jesus Christ. It was constructed of humility, contrition and repentance. All He wanted was my flesh–its self-centeredness and self-will–to be hung there, saving me from myself.
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
I had never noticed something until I was writing this: “. . .the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God.” It is not MY faith. It is the faith which belongs to God’s Son that saves me.