Symbols of Redemption and What They Mean for Christians

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Redemption is the act of atoning or correcting a past mistake. It can also be defined as an act of being saved from evil or sin. A classic example of this is Jesus Christ who died to atone for all the sins of humanity. For Christians, redemption is at the heart of the faith. Here’s a look at a list of symbols of redemption in Christianity and what they mean.  

Cross

The cross is one of the most popular symbols of Christianity, representing the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, making it a perfect symbol of redemption.

However, the cross wasn’t always a symbol of redemption. In ancient Rome, the cross was used as an instrument of public humiliation and torture because criminals are punished by dying on a cross. It was a symbol of punishment and comeuppance. After the death of Christ on the cross, the symbol was adopted by Christianity to represent the values and ideals of Jesus.

Aside from redemption, the cross can also be used to symbolize sacrifice, repentance, suffering, and solidarity. Finally, this symbol can also signify the Christian faith.

Pelican

A pelican is a bird characterized by its large throat and a long bleak. It’s a Christian or Eucharistic symbol of redemption. This is because of an ancient belief wherein a mother pelican pierces its breast to save its young ones from starvation. This noble action represents the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to redeem the sins of mankind.

Aside from redemption, the pelican symbol can also represent responsibility, resourcefulness, humility, and generosity. Typically, the pelican symbol is present in some chalices and altars all over the world. Sometimes, it is also shown on top of the Cross.  

Crucifix

The crucifix has a similar appearance to the cross. But the main difference is that the crucifix has the figure of Jesus Christ. Like the cross, the crucifix is a common Christian symbol, and it is usually placed above the altar. Additionally, the crucifix also represents the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to save humanity. This symbol can also inspire believers to atone or repent for their sins and be thankful for the salvation, which was obtained through the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ. 

Blood

Generally, blood is a symbol of life and the human soul. However, some cultures also use blood to symbolize redemption. For Christians, blood can represent the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which resulted in the redemption of humanity.

In ancient times, some cultures use blood as an offering to the gods. By sacrificing an animal, people could atone for their sins. They did this by killing an animal and placing it on an altar. 

In other cultures, blood can also represent life force or the essence of life. It is also used to affirm a contract, an alliance, or a vow. 

The Brazen Serpent

The brazen serpent symbol features a stick with an entwined snake. This symbol first appeared in the Old Testament, specifically in Number 21: 5-9, where God sent snakes to punish the people for their lack of faith. However, Moses was able to save the people through the help of the brazen serpent. As such, this rod can symbolize salvation and redemption, as it saved people from danger and their sins. Additionally, the image of the brazen serpent also foretells the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, which led to the redemption of humanity.

Paschal Lamb

The paschal lamb features a lamb with a cross, typically used in heraldry or on banners and armor. This symbol represents Jesus Christ, a sacrificial lamb offered by God to redeem the sins of humanity. The verse found in John 1:29 clearly states that Jesus Christ is the lamb who saved mankind. 

In other cultures, a lamb can also represent innocence, purity, gentleness, and obedience. Also, it can symbolize forgiveness, meekness, and sweetness. 

Ark

In Genesis chapters six to eight, Noah was tasked to build a three-story ark made of wood. This enormous boat became a floating home and refuge for the chosen survivors when the great flood occurred, ensuring the continuance of the animal kingdom and the human race.

Keep in mind that the great flood was God’s punishment to the people for their sins. In a way, the ark was an instrument that saved the chosen ones from danger, making it an excellent symbol of preservation, salvation, and redemption. It can also symbolize new beginnings because the survivors were given a second chance to live a peaceful and meaningful life.     

Bread and Wine

Bread and wine are two objects with deep religious meaning. To be specific, the bread represents the body of Jesus Christ, which was sacrificed on the cross. The wine, on the other hand, symbolizes the blood of Jesus Christ, which was shed for the redemption of humanity. Aside from those meanings, bread can also symbolize God’s gift, and wine can represent transformation, happiness, and friendship.

Red

The color red can represent many concepts. One in particular is the blood of Jesus Christ. As mentioned above, Jesus Christ shed his blood to redeem the sins of humanity, making the color red as one of the most significant symbols of redemption.

In Christianity, the color red has other meanings. It may also represent sacrifice, life, and God’s love. In Asian countries, this color also symbolizes good luck or fortune. Lastly, it may also signify courage and power.

Cardinal Bird

Typically found in South and North America, the cardinal is a red-colored bird with a small stature or physique. In Christianity, the bird’s red color is symbolic of the blood of Christ, which was shed to free humanity from sin and evil. Moreover, the cardinal bird may also represent life and restoration.

In other cultures, seeing a cardinal bird can mean that a loved one who passed away is visiting you. This bird also symbolizes hope because it often appears when you’re in despair, reminding you that there will always be hope.

Final Thoughts

While the symbols listed above all hold meaning for Christians, it’s important to note that a symbol may have multiple meanings. For example, these symbols of redemption may also be symbolic of other things such as life, hope, and courage, for example. This depends on the context and culture it’s viewed within.