Have you ever stopped to consider the meaning of the words Christians say and sing?
“Oh, the Wonderful Cross” is the title and chorus of a popular church song, written by Chris Tomlin in 2001. This modern song is really an updated version of a much older song (1707) by Isaac Watts, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” Both songs highlight a profound Christian paradox. This paradox is, in fact, the essence of the Gospel.
At the cross of Jesus Christ, we see the apex of God’s plan to redeem, to save, to rescue sinful people. Here we encounter the God of righteousness and mercy, justice and grace, holiness and love. While Jesus Christ was a perfectly obedient man, fulfilling every requirement of God’s law, Jesus was counted as sinfully wretched and utterly shameful.
It was my shame and sin which Christ bore on the cross, and this is why I sing.
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
But why!? Why would the Prince of Glory put Himself under the wrath of God in my place? Ah, this is the matchless love of God on marvelous display… Not that I am so loveable, but that His love is so profound.
The Bible teaches us that God has loved with an unfathomable love. We read of God’s loving self-disclosure when we come across phrases like, “God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses…” (Ephesians 2:4–5). Or consider the amazing love of God here: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Since God has loved me so, and since He has demonstrated His love in such a meaningful way, I sing again.
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.
When I survey the wondrous cross, I do indeed marvel. Such a wonderful cross it is, this monument of suffering and glory, of sorrow and love.
May God graciously grant that my soul, my life, and my all would be an acceptable offering of gratitude.