Posted by: Jo | April 6, 2012

The Wondrous Cross

“This is love: not that we loved God. but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)

imageWhen one of my granddaughters was a little girl she was sitting on my lap and playing with the cross I was wearing and as she was fiddling with the chain she said, “Why do you wear this cross all the time?” Before I could reply she answered her own question. “Oh I know, you love Jesus.”, and immediately jumped off my lap and went off to play with her sisters. Initially I was pleased with her answer, but the more I thought about it I began to question my own motives for wearing this symbol of the most incredible gift of sacrificial love ever given to mankind. My husband and I are great fans of the writings of Brennan Manning and just recently we were reading a passage from his, “Reflections For Ragamuffins”, where he was addressing the way Christians viewed the cross and what he wrote made me stop and think more deeply about how the world and believers view our sacred emblem. This is what he wrote;

Lamentably, Christian piety has prettified the passionate God of Golgotha; Christian art has banalized unspeakable outrage into dignified jewelry.

The secular world has prettified the whole meaning of Easter with big fluffy bunnies and imagechocolate Easter eggs and even the church going population would rather fill the pews on Easter Sunday than agonize with our Lord on Good Friday. I began to grasp what Brennan Manning wanted his readers to see. The cross must always remain first and foremost as a constant reminder not of our inadequate human love towards our Heavenly Father, but of his incredible, overwhelming, unconditional love that was poured out for us in the form of Jesus’ blood.

Paul was very aware of the danger of losing sight of the powerful influence of the cross and warned his readers thus;

“…not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power” (1 Corinthians 1:17)

And again in Galatians he warns about ignoring the offense of the cross;

“….In that case the offence of the cross has been abolished” (Galatians 5:11)

Over three hundred years ago, Isaac Watts, who was a prolific writer of hymns, summed up the powerful message of the cross in his famous hymn, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”. Isaac’s beautiful hymns were defined by his ability to affirm the Christian faith in a both spiritual and personal way and in this particular hymn he bares his soul as he writes of what takes place when he is confronted with the cross. Suddenly earthly things become paltry. Riches mean nothing. His pride becomes a contemptible thing. He is exposed to the most amazing love he has ever encountered. Love that demands a response from him. The final line sums up what standing at the foot of the cross can evoke in the very depths of man’s soul.

“Were the whole realm of nature mine,

That were an offering far too small;

Love so amazing, so divine,

Demands my soul, my life, my all.”

As we dwell on the last lines of this hymn, we suddenly glimpse a soul liberated, set imagefree, saved from the tyranny of sin, awed by the fact that he is the recipient of this gracious gift of love and we too can sing like Isaac Watts with equal awe, as we stand before the cross on this Good Friday.



  1. Thanks Jo – one of my favorite hymns and one of my favorite images – “sorrow and love flow mingled down:.


  2. Thank you, Jo , for sharing your meaningful reflection. May Christ be with you and your family this Easter.


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