“Morning by morning, O Lord, you hear my voice”
Glory in the Cross?
(Please read Galatians 6:14)
Some people do not like to sing “The Old Rugged Cross” because the cross, they say, was an instrument of torture and execution, not something to be sung about.
All of us would agree that the literal, physical cross was an ugly device likely to raise horrible images in the minds of all who saw it –- and we would hesitate to praise such a thing. We should recall, though, that Paul wrote, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. . . ” (Galatians 6:14, KJV). It was this passage, no doubt, which gave rise to the beautiful old song, “In the Cross of Christ I Glory,” in which the poet said of the cross, “Lo! It glows with peace and joy.”
Our congregation’s hymnal includes about 25 songs featuring the cross. One is Isaac Watts’s song, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” Perhaps some of his thoughtful words show how we can “glory” in the cross while recognizing its ugly side: “See, from His head, His hands, His feet, Sorrow and love flow mingled down. Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, Or thorns compose so rich a crown?” It’s a “wondrous cross” only in the spiritual sense that it played such a part in the central events of all time and the basic truth of the gospel. It marked a turning point in human experience, and as such became a kind of shorthand for the great sacrifice the Savior made for us.
The glory of the cross is not in its ability to take the life of a man, but in the aftermath of its taking the life of the Son of Man. So Paul referred to the gospel as “the word of the cross,” and to those who subverted the gospel as “enemies of the cross of Christ.” Then when we sing of the cross, we are acknowledging the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, which made him the conqueror of death, hades and the grave.