I have observed that images of the Cross typically moves people in one of two general directions, either toward love or toward hate. There are varying "shades" of these degrees, of course, but I was contemplating this today after reflecting upon some of the reactions people have had toward a film by Mel Gibson called "The Passion".
Just as there is a wide range of people and personalities, so there is a wide range of reaction people have when they see an image of the Cross.
The Cross, because of what it represents, moves some people to LOVE. Those who yield to God's mercy, grace & power will be moved to love Him and all that He is and does. God, in His perfect love, sent Christ for us to be the perfect sacrifice needed as payment for our sin. As we yield to His guidance we will be moved to love others as He loved us--sacrificially and honestly. The cross will be a symbol of safe haven, a comfort to us because it represents a truly Amazing Love. A love unlike any we have ever known.
"God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8
The Cross, because of what it represents, will also move some people to HATE. Those who are rebellious will balk at even the suggestion that they need a Savior because they do not recognize they do any wrong. Sin is more comfortable to them and some get angry when faced with truth. The cross represents judgement to those who will never accept God's grace & mercy. The cross makes some angry because it forces them to face the sin that they refuse to acknowledge.
"If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." 1 John 1:8
On the matter of certain reactions to Mel Gibson's movie:
It was not man who nailed Christ to the cross, it was our sin. He had the power to come down off that cross and slay every one of those who beat Him, spat upon Him, cursed Him, etc. He didn't put an end to the agony because He knew there was no other way for us to be saved. To Christians who understand this concept, there can be no animosity toward any particular group of people (whether Jew or Roman or any other) because His death was not caused by one mere group of men. His death was for a purpose and that purpose was grounded in perfect Love for lost souls. As we were all once lost, we have to accept responsibility for our own part in Christ's crucifixion.