Author’s Note: Interested readers can find all previous volumes of this series here. News Flash: The first 56 volumes are compiled into a book titled “Bible Study For Those Who Don’t Read the Bible.” More details at the end. Now back to our regular programming.
Tomorrow will be 20 years since the discovery of what we call the “World Trade Center Cross” found amidst buried bodies and tons of toxic, smoking rubble.
Back on Sept. 10, 2012 — the day before the 11th anniversary of 9/11 — I wrote a piece on PJ Media (before it was a Salem-owned sister-site to Townhall) headlined “Atheist Lawsuit Against World Trade Center Cross Makes Me Want to Scream.”
Since July 23, 2011 — when the 17-foot-tall “intersecting steel” beams resembling a Christian cross was lowered by crane into the under-construction museum — the court had to rule whether the cross could remain part of the museum’s permanent collection.
In my 2012 piece, I asked Colby May, “director and senior counsel with the Washington office of the ACLJ” [American Center for Law & Justice], to explain the case. Related to the meaning of the cross as part of today’s Bible study, here is what May said:
“On September 13, 2001, two days after the worst terrorist attacks in American history, New York City firefighter Frank Silecchia discovered two steel beams in the shape of a cross just after recovering three bodies from the rubble of the collapsed World Trade Center. Silecchia told ABC News of his immediate reaction: ‘I was overwhelmed with the image of my faith… it brought me to tears and to my knees.’
“Silecchia was not alone in his reaction. Contemporaneous reports are unanimous in recording the immediate and profound effect that the cross had on first responders and rescue workers. This is why the cross is at the ‘historical exhibition’ of the September 11 Memorial museum, where it chronicles not only the recovery and rescue efforts but how we understand ‘collective grief.’
“In short, Plaintiffs [American Atheists, Inc.] cannot dispute that the cross is an historical artifact of the September 11 attacks, they cannot dispute that it had significance to many first responders and others at Ground Zero, and they cannot dispute that historical artifacts – even religious artifacts – have long been placed in America’s public museums. Inclusion of the cross is constitutionally appropriate, and by no measure does it establish a state religion.”
Then two years later, on July 28, 2014, a CNN headline read: “Court says ground zero cross can stay.” The report said, “A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit found that the cross, located at ground zero, was ‘a symbol of hope’ and historical in nature. It did not intentionally discriminate against a group of atheists who sued to have it removed.”
Now, let’s formally begin our Bible study with that “symbol of hope.”
Long before the cross became the symbol of Christianity, crucifixion on crossed wood was a Roman-devised method of capital punishment publicly showcasing an agonizingly slow, torturous death from asphyxiation.
In the gospels, first in Matthew 10, Jesus mentions the cross in terms of total commitment to Him even if it means sacrificing one’s life:
“‘Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it’” (Matthew 10: 38-39).
The concept of “taking up the cross” was so essential to Jesus’s teaching that in Matthew, six chapters later, He repeated it:
“Then Jesus said to 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?’” (Matthew 16:24-26).
Cross-bearing means a willingness to suffer and die for Jesus with the anticipation and expectation of eternal life.
The hope and promise of eternal life with Jesus is symbolized by His suffering and death on the cross for the sake of our sins. Then three days later, Jesus conquered death through His glorious Resurrection. And, why fireman Frank Silecchia — himself surrounded by suffering and death — upon discovering the cross said, “I was overwhelmed with the image of my faith… it brought me to tears and to my knees.”
One could say Silecchia experienced first-hand what St. Paul wrote about in Galatians:
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
Although I applaud the judges for their 2014 ruling that the cross could remain in the museum as “a symbol of hope” — the concept was incomplete. Hope does not stand alone. Hope is founded and grounded on a personal ongoing faith-based relationship with Christ — trusting and relying on Him through crises, life’s complexities, and triumphs. The cross symbolizes hope fulfilled through knowledge of and faith in Christ, who will lead us to our eternal home.
Many of the recovery workers were men of faith, but the physical appearance of the cross rising from the ashes proved Jesus was there with them, and that was no coincidence. Hope meshed with faith when it was most needed.
While visiting the 9/11 museum, I am fortunate to have stood at the foot of that cross. It miraculously radiates the power of Christ’s love — the fulfillment of hope when hope was failing. And that is what The Cross does for believers every day. It stands as a witness to our faith in Jesus that grows stronger through prayer and reading the Word of God.
Myra Kahn Adams is a media producer and conservative political and religious writer with numerous national credits. Her new book, “Bible Study For Those Who Don’t Read The Bible,” reprints the first 56 volumes of this study. The publication date is Sept. 27, with pre-sales on Amazon, but the e-book is available now.
Myra is also Executive Director of SignFromGod.org, a ministry dedicated to Shroud of Turin education. On Oct. 9, the Museum of the Bible hosts a Shroud speaker’s event that includes SignFromGod board members. Contact: MyraAdams01@gmail.com or Twitter @MyraKAdams.