The Old Rugged Cross

Last updated on : August 3rd, 2017

Sonpa Telen Kom, B.Th III

The cross and the resurrection are embedded in the fabric of Christianity. It is the centre of Christianity. Without the cross, there is no atonement of sins for mankind and outside of the resurrection there is no hope for mankind. The message of the cross then is very important for every creature on this planet. But the question is what has the cross got to say? What message does it carry? What does it mean for each of us? Is it only a symbol put up in front of the church or is it only something people wear around their neck? Or has it got something more than that? Let’s reason together as the article unfolds.
This article will unfold four significant elements pertaining to  the cross. And all these four things converge at one point of time in history at a hill call Calvary some two-thousand years ago.
1)    Sin is a reality and not just an illusion or a thought we develop in our minds and hearts. To deny sin would be to deny our own existence which is a self-defeating and contradictory statement. Everybody feels and commit sin. Having realised that, decades ago, Malcolm Muggeridge said, “Human depravity is the most empirically verifiable fact though the most resistant philosophically.” We do not have to point our fingers to Hitler or Osama Bin Laden to prove our depravity; we may check our own hearts and see how depraved we are. With that in mind, there is no incident or story ever recorded in history and now where someone gave his life for a sinner or a very wicked person. At the most, someone may give their life for someone who is righteous and good. We may die for our love ones or for our country. We all may be willing to give our lives for a good cause. But it’s rare that someone would give his life for a thief, a murderer, a rapist, or a criminal. No one would willingly give their life for people of this kind. In the Bible, Romans 5:8 says, “While we were yet SINNERS, Christ died for us.” In the cross we see love crucified for the sins of humanity.
2)    In the garden of Gethsemane, seeing the agony of the cross, Jesus prayed to His Father. Luke 22:44 records that He sweated blood being in agony. Medically this condition is called Hematidrosis and Luke is the only one of the four gospels to record this. He was very much qualified to do so as he was a physician by profession. Medical science informs us that when one is in extreme anxiety, our body produces a chemical which breaks the capillaries  carrying blood and is mixed with the sweat gland thereby producing sweat mixed with blood. This condition makes the skin very sensitive. Before Christ was crucified, He was scourged by the Roman soldiers. The scourging was not a simple beating or punishment. The Romans used a whip that has leather thongs with metal balls and sharp skeletal woven around it. And normally, Romans give thirty-nine lashes for every criminal who are to be crucified which is done by professionals employed only to whip and scourged criminals. Then, they used nails that are five to seven inches long to pierce through their feet and palms. When it is nailed through the palms, it passes through the biggest nerve in the hand called median.

The pain is described by Dr. Alexander Metherell in Lee Strobel’s book, The Case For Christ. He says, it’d be like pulling the ulna nerve (the nerve in the funny bone of the elbow) out in our elbow with one plier on the one hand and break it with another plier on the other hand. So, physically Jesus suffered a lot. Then, think of the pain one will go through when one is made to suffer because of someone else’s wrong deeds. The mental torture one will be confronted with is enormous. Jesus went through this pain too. Lastly, He swallowed all the wickedness of the world though He was perfect and sinless. He cried saying, “Father, Father, why hast thou forsaken Me” (Mk. 15:34). He suffered spiritually. So, He suffered physically, mentally, and spiritually. He was mocked and they divided His garments. He had authority in His words. Winds and waves obey His words. The lame walked and the blind sees with Hi words. Be dead you sinners would’ve been a fair judgment. Yet, in the face of pain, shame, and mockery, Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Lk. 23:34). In the cross, we have Forgiveness for our sins.
3)    The cross as in the past was never a good sign. It was in fact, a symbol of shame. Only the worst people of that time were hanged on the cross. But today, do we ever asked why Christians put up cross in front of the church, where they worship? Why would anybody wear a symbol of shame around their neck? Why would people use stickers of cross in their cars and houses? Why? Aren’t they ashamed of this? It’s no shame to put the pictures Krishna playing flute with a smile on his face or the statue of Buddha sitting calmly completely detached from pain as it were. But why would any right thinking person put the picture of Jesus and His cross, wounded and bleeding? As a matter of fact, why would someone worship Him? The answer is, Jesus has defeated the grave. He has risen as the angel informed and as the disciples preached. He has risen from the dead and He is Lord as the song says. Satan was defeated fulfilling the prophecy of Genesis 3:15. Death could not hold Him. So, the symbol of shame has now become a symbol of life. In the cross, we have life that is eternal.
4)    Psychologist tells us that we cannot live without hope. Hope is vital for our lives for with it we are able to face tomorrow. Anyone who has lost hope has given up living. Kurt Cobain, the lead vocalist of the band, Nirvana shot himself to death because he has lost the hope of living in spite of the pomp and glory he received. Many celebrities alike has committed suicide though they have wealth that could put them in best hotels, buy mansions, eat best foods, wear expensive clothes, and change cars every day. The reason is, they have lost the hope of living. Wealth cannot give us hope of tomorrow nor can fame. There is nothing in this world that can give us hope except the cross. Because of the cross, we can face tomorrow. We will be united once again in heaven with our dear ones who have left us because of the cross. Thus, in the cross we have hope.
So, the four things we get from the cross are love, forgiveness, life, and hope. This is a gift given to all mankind freely. There is no other name given under heaven to save us from  sin and give us eternal life, except Jesus. All these four things are given freely to anyone but on one condition. And that is to confess one’s sins and accept Jesus Christ as the Lord and Saviour. 1 Corinthians 1: 18 says, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” So, which one are you? The foolish one who perishes or the one who is being saved? Choose wisely.