Friday, April 8, 2016
“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly…. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6,8 KJV).
The first verse of George Bennard’s classic 1913 hymn, “The Old Rugged Cross,” highlights today’s Scripture.
“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.”
According to Scripture, Abraham offered his only begotten son Isaac on Mount Moriah (Genesis chapter 22). How Abraham “loved” Isaac (verse 2)—“love” first appears in our King James Bible! But, he was willing to part with him if it was God’s will. Some 2,000 years later, in the same general area, another Father gave up His beloved, only-begotten Son. How that Father loved that Son, more than human words could express, but His will had to be fulfilled, and so He was ready to part with Him!
While the God of the Bible is so maligned and railed against, it is as a brother in Christ said, “Our God is a good God.” He held nothing back to save us “lost sinners.” Indeed, as the hymn-writer wrote, Father God gave the “Dearest and Best.” Literally, everything that He valued, everything that He loved, it was in His Son, Jesus Christ. For Him to part with Him, we can never begin to fathom.
Jesus Christ appeared weak on the cross. Satan thought he had finally won! God’s Son was being tortured and slowly dying (“rugged cross” meaning “jagged, rough wood”). Calvary was a place of ever so much suffering that a special term was invented to describe the pain of crucifixion—“excruciating.” Christ Jesus was put to shame, but He “despising the shame,” endured the cross because He knew the joy that was set before Him (Hebrews 12:2). Certainly, we do not worship the wood of Calvary, but rather we worship the eternal Son of God offered on that wooden altar. It was there that God’s love toward us was manifested. “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). 🙂