The Old Rugged Cross!
Christian Devotional by Pastor Cecil Thompson
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
As we continue to examine stories surrounding the great hymns of the faith, it gives pause to the reality of faith. Our failure to consider the words and intent of many of these hymns is tragic. They are more than mere melody and harmony—they express trust and adoration.
The cross of Christ was not the symbol of early Christians—it was the fish. But having said that, the cross of our blessed Savior is central to our faith. A bloodless theology is nothing more than man’s attempt to do for himself what only God could do by sending His dear Son to become our Passover Lamb.
Back in 1913, George Bennard was struggling with a problem that caused him much suffering. His mind went back again and again to Christ’s anguish on the cross. This was the heart of the gospel! The cross he pictured was no gold-covered icon. It was a rough, splintery thing, stained with gore.
George Bennard is quoted as saying: “I saw the Christ of the cross as if I were seeing John 3:16 leave the printed page, take form and act out the meaning of redemption.” Sometime later he expressed that John 3:16 is probably the most familiar verse of the New Testament: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
This theme was so great, it needed a song. In a room in Albion, Michigan, Bennard sat down and wrote a tune. But the only words that would come to him were “I’ll cherish the old rugged cross.” He struggled for weeks to set words to the melody he had written.
As a Methodist evangelist, Bennard was scheduled to preach a series of messages in New York. He found himself focusing on the cross. The theme of the cross grew increasingly more urgent to him. Back in Albion, Michigan, he sat down and tried again to put together the words. This time the lines came. He was able to rewrite the stanzas of the song without so much as one word failing to fall into place.
THE OLD RUGGED CROSS by George Bennard
On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross.
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross
where the dearest and best
for a world of lost sinners was slain.
Refrain: So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
’til my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
and exchange it someday for a crown.
O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God
left His glory above
to bear it to dark Calvary.
In the old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
a wondrous beauty I see;
For t’was on that old cross
Jesus suffered and died
to pardon and sanctify me.
To the old rugged cross I will ever be true,
It’s shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me some day
to my home far away,
where His glory forever I’ll share.
Blessings dear hearts. Walk with God today. Trust Him completely and be a blessing.
— Pastor Cecil
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