At The Foot Of The Cross
I like a lot of the old classic hymns, but there is one that I struggle to sing – The Old Rugged Cross. I understand that George Bennard’s masterpiece has an allure to a lot of people, but honestly, there are some phrases that get stuck in my mind and in my heart. I find it hard to vocalize that “I love that old cross” or that I can see its “wondrous beauty”. No, I don’t have any scriptural issues with the song, nor do I feel we should stop singing it – it’s just not one of my favorites.
While I may struggle with Mr. Bennard’s description of the cross, I do appreciate the imagery of emotionally standing at the foot of the cross and being reminded of its lessons. When I look at the cross, here are a few things I notice:
1). My inability to be personally successful in life. Everything I have and everything I hope for comes from Jesus. Whether it is internal peace or external success, it all dependent upon His work in my life. Yet, my greatest failure comes in my inability to save myself. The cross reminds me, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God ...” (Ephesians 2:8).
2). The darkness of the depravity of man. If humans will crucify the pure and perfect Son of God who came to save us from our own sin, just how low can we go. We hear the question, “How can someone shoot up a school and kill a dozen children?” – that quandary is answered at the cross. Left to its own devices (and prompted by satan’s temptations) humanity can be evil! To me, the lesson found at the cross is a reminder that I must remain vigil or I might end up on the side of darkness. The people who killed Jesus were the “religious leaders” of the day! As I look at the cross I am reminded, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.” (I Corinthians 10:12).
3). The nature of God’s love. There is a wretchedness in a human race that would not only reject God’s offering of peace, but would brutally return it to Him bloodied and battered – and crucified. Yet, even that offensive gesture was not enough to stop His love for us. We killed His Son, but He still loves us. It is inconceivable that, “... God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16), but He does.
In a sense, I understand Mr. Bennard’s affection for the cross. No, he is not drawn to the beauty of the wooden tool of execution, rather to what it symbolizes for him. As he said, it is an “emblem of suffering and shame” – not for Jesus, the holy sacrifice; but us, the sinners.