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Devotional: The Cross and Crown – 3rd Saturday in Advent

3rd Saturday in Advent

The Cross and Crown

Cross and Crown
Be faithful, even to the point of death,

and I will give you the crown of life.
Revelation 2:10

Another crown on our Chrismon tree features a cross behind it. This cross and
crown is a symbol of the reward of the faithful in life after death to those who
believe in the crucified Savior. It is a reminder that both the reign of Christ and
our reigning with him came at a high cost. The cost for Jesus was death on a
cross to pay the penalty for our sins. But there is also a cost for us. As Jesus told
his disciples,

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross
and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever
loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the
whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for
their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his
angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.
(Matthew 16:24-27)

Undoubtedly the disciples were picturing the many martyrs they saw carrying
crosses as they went to die for standing up to their Roman oppressors. They
dared not say, as we sometimes so flippantly do about minor inconveniences,
“Oh, that’s just a cross I have to bear.” They saw the agony in the eyes of those
dying on crosses and instinctively knew that following Jesus wasn’t for the faint
of heart. It might involve a real cross! Indeed, virtually all the disciples of Jesus
literally died for their faith—many on crosses. But superimposed over the cross
is a crown. Crowns were not only for kings, but also were awarded to victors in
the ancient Olympic games, rewards for their perseverance in winning the race.
The cross and crown together remind us that suffering for Jesus comes with its
own reward: the cross of death leads to a crown of life. Death, which is temporary,
leads to a life which is eternal. Whatever “cross” we have to bear for the
sake of Jesus will be rewarded a hundred times over by the crown of life which
he will place on our heads. And which we will ultimately lay before his throne
(Rev. 4:10), because we know that the victory was actually won for us by Jesus
Christ.

Prayer: Jesus, we thank you that you give us strength for the crosses we bear,
and hope of an eternal crown, because of the cross you bore for us. Amen.