Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Wondrous Christ

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.

In many Protestant churches I have heard, sometimes with a degree of arrogance, people commenting on the Catholic custom of displaying Christ on the Cross. "Jesus is not still on the Cross!" Right. Maybe too right. It is easy to view an empty, often stylized version of the Cross and forget what really took place upon it.

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.

That Cross was a bloody mess. Upon it exsanguinated a flesh and blood man, His blood congealing to a cement like glue welding our sin to Him and Him to the Cross. Blood that has thickened smells. The shredded ribbons of skin torn by the lash began to die the moment the whip struck. Jesus literally reeked of death and our sin. The stench must have been overpowering and sickening in the heat.

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?

Love and sorrow mingled like water and wine. He loved us and it cost Him. Whatever physical beauty Christ possessed, and we are told He was not striking, it was ruined utterly and totally and crowned with thorns so the cypress and the myrtle could flourish in place of nettles and briers.

His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o 'er His body on the tree;
Then am I dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.

Paul says it beautifully, 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

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

He took my place. Your place. He forces nothing upon us but offers His all and absolute self for the asking. The pain was His. The glory ours. If the planet were our possession to lay at His feet it would be small treasure in compensation for the grace flowing from His wounds, yet He will take our heart. He will take our heart, our love, our devotion and it will be the joy and rejoicing of His own eternal heart.

"Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all."

To survey is to view in detail, especially to inspect, examine, or appraise formally or officially in order to ascertain condition or value. Survey the Wondrous Cross during this Lenten season and fall in love all over again with its Wondrous Christ. May it be a time for all of us, in a world intent on removing all vestige of His Presence, to press in and discover the deep places of His Grace. I wish you a prosperous journey.


Lyrics by I. Watts

Cross by Salvador Dali


  1. A bloody mess of a cross with a savior to rescue a bloody mess of people. No wonder Paul didn't find much else to talk about except his Redeemer and the price He paid. Nothing compares. -K

  2. Gal 2:20 is one of my favorite verses & reminds me each time I remember it of a sacrifice uncomparable for my miserable life. We would all do well to mimic the catholics in reverence and remembrance more than just during our lenten season. Thank you, dear Friend, for stirring words that minister to the depths of my soul.