Easter baskets, new dresses, pastels, and spring–these are a few of my favorite things. I love to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ each year. It’s a time to rejoice in new life and the empty tomb.
But as we sang “At the Cross” this past Sunday, I was struck with the idea that I don’t really think that much about the cross. I have one hanging around my neck, but I seldom consider the cross like the old hymn writers did.
Do we really glory in the cross? Do we truly cherish that old rugged cross? Or do we just think about it briefly on Good Friday, and then skip right to the empty tomb?
For the early church, the cross was everything.
“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel–not with words of human wisdom, let the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.”1 Corinthians 1:17-18, NIV
What Does the Cross of Christ Mean to You?
Let’s look at some of the hymns we sing about the cross:
“When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride. Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, save in the death of Christ, my God; all the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood.”Isaac Watts
Wow. The cross was a place of execution and torture. It wasn’t a cute symbol to the early church. It represented death. And so it should to us. Death of sin and self.
Do I think about the cross in light of all that I have and think that I am? Do I boast only in what Jesus has done and lay down the vain things of this world in order that I might have more of Jesus in my life?
How about this one?
“Jesus, keep me near the cross, there a precious fountain, free to all, a healing stream, flows from Calv’ry’s mountain. In the cross, in the cross, be my glory ever, till my ransomed soul shall find rest beyond the river.”Franny J. Crosby
I love this one, because even though the blood that flowed from Calvary’s mountain was real and painful, it’s a stream of healing to all who put their trust in Him.
Do I pray daily that Jesus would keep my heart close to the cross where He gave His life for me? Do I glory only in the cross of Christ and His sacrifice?
Think on this one:
“At the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light, and the burden of my heart rolled away. It was there by faith I received my sight, and now I am happy all the day!”Ralph E. Hudson
This cross song brings joy because the writer reflects on the power of Jesus’ sacrifice to rid him of the burden of sin. How often do I remember where I came from and how far Jesus has brought me, all because of the cross “where I first saw the light”?
My all-time fave:
“On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, the emblem of suff’ring and shame; and I love that old cross where the dearest and best for a world of lost sinners was slain. So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down; I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it someday for a crown.”George Bennard
The cross is a horrible symbol of suffering and shame–a place of execution, a murder, a crime scene. I can’t imagine my son hanging on a cross. I can’t imagine the horror and pain Mary and the others must have felt that day. But I want to remember. I want to let it really sink it, lest I become immune to it.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must take up his cross and follow me.'”Matthew 16:24
I don’t want to wear a cross and not carry one. I don’t want to take my salvation for granted or extend it to others without fully explaining to them the price that was paid. I don’t want to sing the songs and act as if nothing happened.
I want to remember that it was my sin that nailed Him to the cross. And He calls me to be crucified to sin and self on that cross.
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”Galatians 2:20
Do we really come to the cross to die?
“Oh, the wonderful cross, oh the wonderful cross, bids me come and die, and find that I may truly live. Oh, the wonderful cross, oh the wonderful cross; All who gather here by grace draw near and bless Your name.”Christ Tomlin, Jesse Reaves, and J.D. Walt
How can a place of shame be wonderful? Because death on that cross means life to those who come to Him. His sacrifice set us free and defeated the power of the enemy. We find death to self and life anew at the cross.
“He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”Colossians 2:14-15
Jesus triumphed over the death, hell, and the power of Satan on that cross. Those beams of wood that brought shame and sorrow also delivered us from sin and death. We have much reason to ponder the cross–to be both horrified by it and to cherish it.
As we sing the songs of the cross, make those Easter baskets, and celebrate the resurrection, may we also take time to really think about what the cross of Christ means to us.
May it shake us to our core, bring us to our knees, and be our glory ever.