by Stan Mitchell
George Bennard called it an “old rugged cross,” and he was right. It was not bright and shiny like a pretty pendent or an etching carved into a piece of furniture. It was rough and unfinished, varnished only with sweat and blood.
Its purpose was to encounter a problem as disreputable as a drug deal in a ghetto. Jesus’ death was about sin, and there is nothing in our world like sin, sleazy and violent, ugly as a graffiti-infested wall.
“Jesus Christ was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves; on a town garbage heap; on a crossroads so cosmopolitan that they had to write his title in Hebrew and Latin and Greek; at the kind of place where cynics talk smut, and thieves curse, and soldiers gamble. Because this is where he died, and that is what he died about,” (George McLeod).
Remember that Christ did not die when we were cute and lovable; he died while we were sinners (Romans 5:6-8). When he died, like the scapegoat of the Old Law, he had to go “outside the camp” (Hebrews 13:12).
Those who thought of themselves as polite and genteel looked the other way. Jesus came to heal the sick and to seek the sinners (Matthew 9:12).
So which were you, members of the spiritual gentility, or the spiritually sick? Did you need Christ’s death on the cross?
You cannot look at the cross of Christ, stare at it unblinkingly, thoughtfully, and conclude that you do not owe its victim a profound debt. Neither can you look at the cross and become proud and haughty toward the other people for whom he died. We were all in the same boat, and we cannot afford to worry about anyone’s condition but our own.
The cross speaks of an historic cost, for debt that was historically high. It speaks of a condition so dark that one act of atonement and that act alone would suffice.
As another songwriter declares, it’s time to “kneel at the cross.”