Summary: Based on the hymn this message draws the believer back to the cross to experience the love and grace of Jesus.
July 16, 2017
I Cherish The Old Rugged Cross
Intro.: I can only recall his first name as Alister, yet his name is really not all that important tonight but I wish I had a picture of Alister because -- if a picture is worth a thousand words, this picture would drain the ink and fill the page with enthusiasm, excitement, peace and hope. It was his tear-filled eyes that told most of the story.
Diana and I met Alister in the Garden Tomb in 2011 on the last day of our Israel experience. Alister was our tour groups guide when we visited Golgotha where Jesus had been crucified and the empty tomb where Jesus had risen from the dead.
His face and his words told us the old, old story of Jesus. Yet, it was as if it had happened the day before. Like it had happened during his lifetime and he had personally witnessed it. To Alister the crucifixion and resurrection was real, it was personal. He knew all about it because of the knowledge he had learned and researched but he also knew it through experience because he believed it and wanted everyone else to believe it.
Diana and I did believe it – we had been believing for almost 40 years. But this day was different – this day was special. There we both stood in silence and in awe as we were drawn back to Scripture passages and words from familiar songs like “The Old Rugged Cross.”
As we stood in the Garden Tomb and had us focus on Golgotha, there we observed the image of a skull. Then he reminded us the walk that Jesus made up that mountain where He was crucified. He reminded us of the other two men that died with Jesus on that dark day.
Then, then he turned our attention and bodies to the tomb area. He told us we could walk in that tomb where Jesus was buried -- and this is when his tears of sorrow turned to tears of joy. He told us again we could go in that tomb and look for the body of Jesus but you will not find it – “because He’s not there.” It was evident that Alister loved Jesus, that he loved telling the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Making our way (halfway) through our Favorite Hymn messages we once again come to an old hymn, tracking its beginning following the Civil War days written in 1873 by George Bennard, “The Old Rugged Cross.”
It has been estimated by historians that during the reign of Pontius Pilate and Titus (40 years) at least 30,000 Jews were crucified. In the midst of all those criminals and crucifixions was One named Jesus.
So why is this cross special? Why do hymn writers choose to write about the cross that Jesus died on? Well we should know that the significance is not the cross, it’s not that it is an old, old cross. Rather, it’s because of the character and the person of the One who was nailed to the cross.
I. The Old Rugged Cross of Christ IS the Father’s Goal/Purpose
A. The old rugged cross was not a second thought from God the Father.
1. It was always a way to bring humanity back to Him.
2. The cross was not a second thought from God or a plan B.