The Power of the Cross
We should not allow our familiarity with this song to dull our hearts to the impact of the lyrics, which seem to build in intensity with each succeeding verse. Let’s approach these words with a prayer for fresh eyes and an open heart to grasp anew the power of the cross.
When we look at the first stanza of The Power of the Cross, perhaps we should assume the perspective of the heavenly hosts looking down in horror as the King of Glory was being brutalized and abused by mere mortal men. I propose assuming this perspective because the people of that day were so ignorant of His identity that they either were delighted by their ability to overcome their enemy, or dismayed by the helplessness they felt as their Master (and their expectations) were being shattered. In neither case could they understand the meaning of the first verse of this song, for they did not know who He was, or the purpose for which He came.
Even from our perspective on this side of redemption, it is difficult for us to comprehend the heights of His holiness and depths of our own depravity which would cause the hosts of heaven to gasp in amazed horror that He would be tried by sinful men, torn and beaten. We have little concept of the chasm between His holiness and our sinfulness, so our wonder at the truth of what He did for us is stunted. In our sanitized, civilized society we cannot fathom brutality He suffered in our stead. Yet, by enduring all of this, He imbued the cross with the power to bring about the eternal salvation of all who would believe.
Have you ever witnessed the face someone suffer extreme pain? Perhaps husbands have watched their wives have a difficult labor, or those of us with family members who have had a kidney stone or end-stage cancer have experienced this to some degree. But even witnessing these examples would pale in comparison to the agony of someone enduring the tortures of crucifixion. Even if we can imagine it to some degree, add to that imagining that the person suffering is doing so because it was our fault—that our own sinful, rebellious choices had caused the agony of another person. The power of the cross is that not only have our sins been forgiven, but the personal pain we inflicted in Jesus because of our sin has been forgiven, as well. The power of the cross extends to turning our deepest sorrow into our greatest joy! That is exactly what God wants for us. In fact, anything less than joyous redemption betrays the fact that we have yet to grasp the full power of the cross on our behalf.
The power of the cross is displayed as creation is turned on its head—the Creator submits to the creature. The One who should have been blessed and praised became and endured cursing and rejection. And yet, in many ways it was only fitting, because the creation had no power of its own to make things right and save ourselves. If God did not interpose Himself on our behalf, we would have all be doomed without remedy. Without the cross we would have been without hope and without God.
The power of the cross is our names written in the wounds. It is no blanket pardon, or “no harm, no foul,” no universal “pass.” The power of the cross is available only to those who acknowledge and throw themselves on the mercy of God’s sacrificial love. As Romans 1:16 puts it, this gospel—the good news about the cross—is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes. And 1 Corinthians 1:18 tells us that the cross is foolishness to those who are headed for destruction! But to those who are being saved it is the very power of God. It should cause us humble wonder that God has let the light of this knowledge fall on us so that we might believe in the power of the cross for our salvation.
But the power of the cross extends beyond the event of our conversion. It is the power not only of bringing us to life in Christ, it enables us to sustain life in Him as we are being changed into His image. And, as we read Revelation, we will see that the cross never loses its power there either. All of heaven never gets over the cross, for Jesus is always known as the “Lamb who was slain.” If heaven never gets over that wonder, neither should we.
Do you still experience the wonder of the cross and what Jesus did for you there?
How do the words of these lyrics impact you?
What does the power of the cross mean to you, personally?
How is its power being demonstrated in your life today?
Let me encourage you to spend some time thinking/praying over these lyrics and renewing the wonder for what God has done for you through the cross. Make a list of reasons for which you are grateful for the power of the cross in your life, then spend a season of time giving daily praise and thanks for what it means to you personally.
This, the power of the cross; Christ became sin for us; took the blame, bore the wrath—we stand forgiven, at the cross.
by Sheri Cook, Director of Special Ministries