Last night we had a night of fellowship around the Word with sister churches in our community. I had the privilege of preaching to this gathering and our subject was the redemption that Christ purchased on the Cross from Ephesians 1:7.
During my opening illustration, I referred to the rich history of symbolism that exists within Christianity. My purpose in this illustration was to land on how interesting it is for the Cross, which is an instrument of torture, to be the universal symbol of Christianity. In leading up to this point we talked about several of the other symbols Christians have used throughout the years.
The first symbol is one that many have seen, but few know the history of — the “Jesus fish”. We get our famed “Jesus fish” from the Greek word “ichthus” (which is Greek for “fish”). This symbol was used in many ways in the history of the early church. However, here are the two most prominent usages:
- The sign of the fish was used by the early church during times of persecution to identify other Christians. During the course of conversation between two people who had just met, one of the individuals would draw an arc in the dirt with their foot. If the other person was a believer as well, then they would draw an opposing arc, thus completing the sign of the fish.
- Additionally, the word “ichthus” was made into an acronym. There were many false teachings about the nature of Jesus, so the early church used the letters in the word “ichthus” to represent a specific teaching point about Jesus. The graphic below, taken from Wikipedia, shows the individual meanings behind each letter