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When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, by Allan Mitchell

Every Easter season, believers from every tribe and tongue celebrate and reflect on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. In the midst of the calm, calamity, and circumstance of daily living, many believers assess and express their spiritual devotion to their Christian faith. Sadly, for many, Easter has become a comfortable custom of familiar religious rhetoric and ritual – acknowledged only to sustain what some people would define as an antiquated and irrelevant tradition.

Some people superficially sustain Easter tradition through the fictitious folklore of gift- bearing rabbits—these secular, mythical alternatives divert and deceive people from contemplating and experiencing the true, eternal hope of Easter. Why has the world’s alternative Easter traditions caused many to disregard the eternal significance of one of humankind’s most significant historical events? Why have we lost the joy, hope, and glory of the Easter experience?

To understand fully the eternal significance of the Easter narrative, each person must ask the question—what does the cross of Christ mean to me? Scottish minister Alexander MacLaren proposed: “We believe that the history of the world is but the history of His influence and that the centre of the whole universe is the cross of Calvary.” If the cross of Christ is the focal point in human history, then it is logical and reasonable to presuppose that Calvary’s cross should esteem equal significance and influence in every human mind and heart.

The Bible reiterates MacLaren’s proposition. The Old Testament’s prophets, priests, and kings testify of a future coming saviour; the New Testament’s disciples, apostles, and associates testify of the life, death, burial, and resurrection of a living saviour. The Old Testament points toward Calvary; the New Testament reflects back to Calvary. Collectively, they narrate God’s perfect plan—a scarlet thread weaving a beautiful tapestry of redemption—the substitutionary sacrifice of God’s own Son on Calvary’s cross.

What was Jesus thinking on the very first Palm Sunday—as the people gathered round Him, shouting Hosanna? Indeed, celebration was in the air as the pilgrims, prophets, and priests prayed, prophesied, and prepared for Passover and the sacrificial offering of an unblemished lamb. Jesus knew this Passover would be different—as John the Baptist declared, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”(John 1:29b, NKJV).

Jesus knew His sole purpose was to fulfill the requirements of the law—become the unblemished lamb and shed His blood for the remission of sin. Under the law, the annual sin sacrifice was a temporal covering for sin—until God’s own perfect Passover sacrifice, Jesus, would not just cover sin, but completely and eternally remove sin—past, present, and future. God redeemed humanity through the substitutionary work of Christ on Calvary’s cross—imputing righteousness on penitent man through the precious blood of Jesus.

Now, in Jerusalem, in the final days of His earthly ministry, Jesus prepared to lay His life down as a ransom for many. He prepared the Passover meal; He reassured the disciples; He prayed in the garden; He surrendered to the temple guards; He defied the Sanhedrin; He perplexed Pontius Pilate; He endured a Roman scourging; He carried His cross to Calvary.

Scourged, and suffering the agony of the ages, Jesus willingly poured Himself out on Calvary’s altar—from His pierced brow, hands, and feet, the crimson blood of redemption flowed—“but He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him…” (Isaiah 53:5, NKJV). What was Jesus thinking on the very first Good Friday? Amidst unbearable physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering, Jesus endured the anguish and agony of Calvary’s cross because He was thinking of the names of all the redeemed. He was thinking of you.

As I reflect on the tragedy and triumph of Jesus’ selfless act, I recall the profound and stirring words of Isaac Watts’s timeless hymn:

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

Compared to Watt’s poetic verses of reflection and thanksgiving, my words seem hopelessly inadequate to express the awesome splendour and spectacle of Calvary’s glorious majesty; nevertheless, I can reiterate its everlasting influence in my life through the words of Paul the apostle: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8: 38-39,NIV). As believers in Jesus, we have the unique privilege of reflecting on Calvary’s cross everyday—we should never forget that we are the reward of His suffering—and our hearts should be overflowing with everlasting praise and thanksgiving.

Unequivocally, every Christ follower would agree that the most significant event in human history occurred almost 2000 years ago—on a craggy hill called Calvary. It was the holy altar where Jesus of Nazareth, God’s only Son, ransomed His life so that we may inherit eternal life. Indisputably, Calvary is the triumph of the ages—past, present, and future. What do you see when you survey the Cross of Christ? Do you believe that Jesus bore the burden of your hereditary sin? Do you embrace God’s grace gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ? Do you see God’s love in all its wondrous majesty and glory? The answers to these questions are essential to understanding the true Easter experience.

In retrospect, Easter is much more than a traditional holiday season—it is a holy season—a season when we should reflect on the God who loved us so much that He left His eternal glory to cloth Himself in the frailty of human flesh—pouring out His life as a ransom for many. As you reflect on Calvary’s cross this Easter, may the eternal truth of Jesus words resonate in your heart, mind, and soul:  “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.  And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:25-26, NKJV)—what a glorious promise. Jesus is our everlasting hope—our past, our present, our future—our restorer, our redeemer, our saviour.

2011-04-30T04:33:56+00:00 April 30th, 2011|Devotionals, Faith Adventure Stories, Our Blog|1 Comment

One Comment

  1. Randy Skutle February 12, 2012 at 9:11 am - Reply

    Thank you…

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