As a central fixture of most Christian churches you will find a cross. Ask any Christian the significance of this symbol and most will say something similar to, “Christ died for our sins.” While true, is that really the most exceptional thing Jesus ever did? Think about it for a minute. If given the choice of giving up one’s life to save humanity, who wouldn’t do it? Not to downplay Jesus’ sacrifice, but all it proves is that Jesus was a decent person. Many people have sacrificed just as much for far less.
As for dying, Jesus probably wasn’t particularly afraid of death. He knew He would be resurrected in just a few days. What undoubtedly troubled Jesus was the pain and humiliation He knew He must endure. So it might be better to say that Jesus’ real sacrifice was to endure several hours of excruciating pain for our benefit. But couldn’t the same be said of most of our mothers?
If giving birth to you is the main reason you love your mother, then you probably had a very sad childhood. A mother’s love is universally symbolized by cradling arms rather than women racked in the pain of childbirth. Why not symbolize Jesus’ love rather than His agony? Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross proves, that He did love us, to be sure but not necessarily any more than a common soldier who gives up his life for his country.
It is Jesus’ life, that makes His death significant – not the other way around. It is only because of who He was and how He lived that we could be saved. To symbolize God becoming a man, perhaps a baby Jesus in a manger would be a better choice. Or perhaps an empty tomb if we wish to focus on the resurrection. But if we must use a cross to symbolize Jesus, then why not an ankh – the symbol of life, rather than a symbol of death?
Personally, I prefer the ichthys, or fish, that is basically symbolic of His Great Commission – to be fishers of men.