by John D. Morris, Ph.D.
“Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.” (Matthew 27:45)
The second verse of the grand old hymn “The Old Rugged Cross” contains much truth, rich and deep.
Oh, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary.
The world despises the cross, and the One on the cross. “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:3). But yet, even in His bloodied and broken form, there is a wondrous attraction, for “surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: . . . he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (vv. 4-5).
His death substituted for ours. He was the sacrificial “Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). This Lamb is none other than God the Son, who willingly “took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: . . . and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:7-8). Remarkably, even God the Father “despised” Him as He hung on the cross, for God is holy, and for our sakes had “made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). The apex of Christ’s suffering came, as we see in our text, when God the Father separated Himself from His beloved Son, “forsaking” (v. 46) Christ to suffer for three hours the awful pangs of hell which we deserved. So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross. JDM
Click here for the sheet music for this hymn.