The Difference Between a Cross and a Crucifix
The main differences comes down to this: whereas in the Protestant, Born-Again Christian faith there is greater emphasis on the resurrection of Jesus Christ, there is great emphasis, in the Catholic faith, on the death and suffering of God’s Son.
This is not to say that Catholics do not support the idea of resurrection, but, in their religious emblems and symbols of faith, there is greater emphasis on death than on life. Catholics have often been criticized for leaving a suffering Christ hanging perpetually on the Cross whereas Christians depict an empty cross, pointing the observer to the fact that Jesus has risen and ascended. The cross is left barren as a representation of Jesus Christ’s life eternal.
C.S. Lewis, in A Reflection on the Psalms, writes: “Our life as Christians begins by being baptized into a death; our most joyous festivals begin with, and center upon, the broken body and the shed blood”. While this is true for all Christians, Protestant and Catholic alike, the Catholic focuses more, in their reminders of faith, on the tragedy of the Crucifixion; the Protestant on the glory of Resurrection. Both are invaluable to understanding the whole story. But we must remember that Jesus cried, “It is finished!” And this was an acclamation of joy and exultation never before witnessed by a Man who was pleased to give Himself up for those who would follow Him.
The crucifix is important as an historical depiction of what occurred two-thousand years ago. The empty cross is a vital reminder of the present condition of Christ, who is seated in heaven, at the right hand of His Father. It is a symbol of victory of sin and death, the devil, and the works of darkness.