When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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?
4. 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.
The cross was a bloody incident. The cross was death in a most excruciating way. The cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18). The cross before Christ crucified was a death reserved for the worst criminals they could find. It was a warning to other criminals to steer clear of that one guy’s crime. After Christ crucified it became a symbol of hope to those associated with the Christ. Today, we seem to forget the power of the cross. What it means. What had to happen for us to see the cross in a positive light. This hymn does a great job of reminding us of it all.
The cross is where our Prince of Glory was slain so that we may be set free. The cross is where God Himself took up our sin – the full weight of it – and bore it so that we would not have to. He did it all Himself, without us doing a single thing… so that we may not boast. Those many vain things that we seek because they give us fleeting pleasure… they count naught when weighed against the power of His blood. That one act would cover all sins past, present, and future of the people of God. His sacrifice would lay, like a purifying blanket, over the course of history, swaddling those who would become – or had become – His.
But what was the cross like? Verse 3 brings out some of it. The Roman empire was very good at one thing: killing. Whether in war or in peace, they had produced an almost scientific algorithm to killing effectively. Crucifixion was one of those of the gorier persuasion. You didn’t die from the beatings, the floggings, or the bleeding produced. You didn’t fall from the cross due to poor nailing – for they nailed through the wrist bones. No, you died of asphyxiation. Your feet were nailed together… to the wood… but through the unbelievable pain, you would push up to allow yourself to breathe. At least until they broke your legs… now you would hang there, in terror, until you suffocated.
Christ would take beatings, whippings, mocking, a crown of thorns smashed into His head… He would walk His final means of death up a hill… He would then be nailed, and mocked some more… But they would not break Him, not spiritually or mentally, and not physically.
See…from His head… His hands… His feet… Sorrow and blood flow mingled down…
Most of us have heard the phrase, “Christ paid the ultimate sacrifice for youuuuu!” or “Christ died for youuuu, won’t you pleeeeaase accept Him into yer heart??” But have you ever actually sat down and thought about what Christ did so that we may not find ourselves one day eternally separated from God? That is where we find ourselves when we deny Him for a lifetime. It isn’t this place where the Devil is king, and all those rabble rousers get to spend eternity partying in sin. No. Hell is as much a prison for Satan as it is for the reprobate.
Hell is where the love and mercy and grace of God are absent… Hell is where only the wrath and righteous justice and judgment exist. God is still there, but not the lovey-dovey One. The righteous judge that produces just condemnation of the unjust. Christ sacrificed three days of the “three-in-oneness” He had experienced from eternity so that we would never have to experience that hell.
Were the whole realm of nature mine…. THAT were a present far…too…small
That love is so amazing, that love is so divine. There is nothing we can offer God to give us the same result that Christ’s sacrifice did. All we can do is give our life, our all, to the Man who gave His life – His all – so that we would never know the wrath of hell. There is no gift or offering big enough to satisfy the gaping hole sin leaves. But we can offer our thanks, our repentance, our faith. A faith that manifests itself if works for the Kingdom. We can survey the cross with wonder, and with sincere thankfulness!
Yes, the cross can be a tripping hazard for some, but for me… it is beauty so divine that all I can do is sing about it!