The Glory of the Cross

Off the coast of South China, on a high hill overlooking the harbor of Macao, is a huge wall. This wall is the only thing that remains from a massive cathedral that Portuguese settlers built on that hill hundreds of years ago. A typhoon hit that cathedral, literally reducing it to ruins. Everything except this front wall was totally leveled. High on top of that wall stands a huge bronze cross.

 In 1825, Sir John Bowring was sailing a ship off this same coast when a terrible storm hit, breaking his ship apart and throwing him into the water. He was holding on to a board for dear life, thinking he was going to pickled in that China sea, believing that all had been lost, including his own life. All of a sudden through the storm, he caught sight of this bronze cross atop this cathedral wall. In that moment God spoke to him and he knew in his heart that God was going to deliver him, and that his life would be spared. Indeed, he was miraculously rescued.

John Bowring was so moved by how God had spared his life, that he wrote a poem that years later was put to music, and for over one hundred and fifty years God’s people have sung this song over and over:

In the cross of Christ I glory,
Tow’ring o’er the wrecks of time;
All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime.

When the sun of bliss is beaming,
Light and love upon my way,
From the cross the radiance streaming,
Adds more luster to the day.

Two thousand years ago the cross was nothing to glory about. In fact, the cross was grossly offensive to the three major cultures of Paul’s day. To the Romans the cross was so despicable that Cicero, the Republican orator and statesman, who died in 43 B.C., wrote: “Even the mere word ‘cross’ must remain far not only from the lips of the citizens of Rome, but also from their thoughts, their eyes, their ears.”

In the history of the Jewish people, Titus, Pilate and other Romans crucified more than 30,000 young Jews. Yet we remember the name of only one. Do you know why he couldn’t call the name of one out of thirty thousand? Do you know why we remember one name when we can’t remember the other twenty-nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine? Because Jesus Christ is the only one who died for our sins, and was raised from the dead!

You see, the Lord Jesus turned the cross from a symbol of guilt into a symbol of glory. He transformed it from a beam of execution into a balm of salvation. Oh, it is not the cross that is so wonderful, it is Christ on the cross that is so amazing.

We are not to glory in church buildings, budgets, or baptisms. We are not to glory personally in prestige, privilege, or position. We are to glory only and eternally in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. Because the only hope for a hurting, hateful, horrible world that is lost in sin, is that old rugged cross.

–James Merritt

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