So Hershey teamed up with Starbucks a few years ago and they helped each other sell chocolate and coffee.

Napa Auto Parts promotes Nascar on their advertising and vice versa.

Coca Cola became the official brand of the Olympics and both benefited.

The NBA figured to make $100 million by adding advertising patches to its uniforms.

This sort of thing is called cross marketing or cross branding.  Each product is branded by the other’s label. They are identified with each other.

There is a “cross branding” that the Bible talks about.

There is a cross that marks the life of Christ, the cross to which He was nailed, the cross by which He redeemed us from sin, death and the dark powers.

As the doorposts of Israel in Egypt were marked with the blood of the unblemished lamb so that death might pass over their homes and lives, so we, by faith, are branded with the blood of Christ crucified.

What does the pastor say at a baptism?  “Receive the sign of the holy cross…”  Jesus brands us as His own, identifies Himself with us before the Father’s throne with the cross that marked His life.

There is another cross that marks us.  As Christ gladly bore the cross of His suffering to save us, so we who bear His brand now gladly bear the cross of suffering for Him, to confess His name, serve Him, to identify ourselves as His own.  “If anyone would come after Me,” said Jesus, “he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.”

“I bear on my body the marks of Jesus,” said St. Paul.   Paul had been beaten up plenty for his confession of Christ over the years, in body, mind and spirit.  But you sense his holy pride in those “marks.”    If Packer fans are proud to wear Packer jerseys even in Viking country, if Cubs fans wear Cubs caps even in Milwaukee, then why should we be ashamed to wear the “cross” brand?  “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,” said the apostle.

For all who belong to Jesus, there will be a cross. No cross, no Christian.  In Iraq and Syria, it may be a literal cross as the militant Islamics (ISIS or ISIL) behead and crucify Christians.  In our comfortable country, it may be the utter isolation, ridicule and contempt we suffer for being faithful to the Scriptures in a culture saturated with “anything goes.”  One way or another, we are “cross” branded. We are His.  He is ours.  As the prophet Ezekiel once rushed about to mark the foreheads of God’s elect, as the blood of the Passover lamb marked the lives of Israel in Egypt, so the mark of Christ will never lead us where His grace shall not keep us.