Saturday, March 11, 2006

I have been trying to figure out how to present the word pictures of the cross in the adult fellowship meeting. These words are big and difficult ones: being redemption, reconciliation, propitiation. By God's gracious leading, I was led to explore an idea, which turned out to be almost priceless!

I checked out the Chinese characters for those words and used to find out the semantics of each part of the characters. My find was astounding to say the least.

Here was what I had discovered.

In explaining that we have all sinned and fall short of God's glory, its Chinese character 罪 has a net 网 covering evil 非. We fool ourselves if we think we are without sin.

I introduced the group to sacrifices and sin offerings of the Old Testament - in order to pay for the wrongs that the Israelites have done, they were instructed to offer unblemished lambs to be slaughtered in their place. They are also required to place their right hand on the animal while it is being slaughtered to signify their responsibility for the death of the animal in their place. The lamb is to take their place in response to their wrongs before God. The Chinese character for sacrifice 祭 consists of flesh 肉 offered by the right hand 又 to show 示, in this context remorse and grief. Notice the usage of the pictograph of the right hand in comparison to the placing of the right hand of the sinner onto the animal's head. To use the character for Christ, he was God made flesh 肉 offered by God's own hands 又 to show 示 us the way to the Lord.

Redemption stresses that in order to get something back, a price has to be paid. Its Chinese character 贖 consist of the character for valuables 貝. Christ is the precious one that was given in order to redeem us from our slavery to sin. The price was paid by his blood.

In order for reconciliation to happen, something has to be removed. Its Chinese character 解 is profoundly intriguing. It is made up of a knife to cut 刀 the horns 角 of an ox 牛. Until and unless our horns or sins are cut away and removed, we can never be reconciled to God. Only Christ made that possible by being our sacrifice, who justifies us to be free of sin.

After preparing the above word pictures of the chosen 3 concepts, I thought I'd check out the cross. And it turned out to be one of the most amazing find.

The Chinese characters for the cross are 十 字 架. The character ten 十 in Chinese signifies completeness, an ideograph indicating the four directions and the centre. The character 字 consist of a child 子. The character 架 consists of a tree 木 and it means a frame that stands upright.

Mark this - the Chinese pictorial language of the cross is: a complete perfect child on the tree. Christ, who is the perfect being and Son of God was hung on a tree as a sacrifice for us in order that we are saved from the bondage of sin which is death (
Deut 21:22).

One more interesting word-picture. The character for removal 免, here in our context the removal of sin, is the Chinese character of a rabbit 兔 that escaped, signified by a missing dot. By Christ's sacrificial act on the cross, we have escaped death by the removal of sins in our lives.

And just a minute ago, I decided to look up the Chinese character for blood 血. And you know what I found? Simply astounding.

The Chinese character for blood 血 consist of a serving vessel 皿 containing sacrificial blood, signified by the mark on top.

What more can I say!

Picture by Andreas Thies

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4 comment(s)

  1. Meg, This sounds very cool. Can I download a chinese font to see the characters? They show up as little rectangles on my screen.

  2. The font used in the post is MS Mincho. But I think you may not need to download and install the font.
    Try clicking:
    Start, Control Panel, Regional and Language Option, Languages Tab, Select Install Files for East Asian Languages. The default Chinese font for Windows is SimSun (for least for Windows on this end of the world).
    Let me know if you still can't manage it - I will pdf it for you :)

  3. I have just pdf-ed it and will be mailing it to you in awhile.

  4. I still cannot figure out how to trackback, but I wanted to make sure a couple of my language friends would see this, I posted on it.

    Super cool. Thanks for writing it up!