Blessed… When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

32 As they were going out, they found Simon, a man from Cyrene. They forced him to carry his cross. 33 When they came to a place called Golgotha, which means Skull Place, 34 they gave Jesus wine mixed with vinegar to drink. But after tasting it, he didn’t want to drink it. 35 After they crucified him, they divided up his clothes among them by drawing lots. 36 They sat there, guarding him. 37 They placed above his head the charge against him. It read, “This is Jesus, the king of the Jews.” 38 They crucified with him two outlaws, one on his right side and one on his left.

39 Those who were walking by insulted Jesus, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “So you were going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, were you? Save yourself! If you are God’s Son, come down from the cross.”

41 In the same way, the chief priests, along with the legal experts and the elders, were making fun of him, saying, 42 “He saved others, but he can’t save himself. He’s the king of Israel, so let him come down from the cross now. Then we’ll believe in him. 43 He trusts in God, so let God deliver him now if he wants to. He said, ‘I’m God’s Son.’” 44 The outlaws who were crucified with him insulted him in the same way (Matthew 27:32-44, Common English Bible).

Isaac Watts’ famous hymn, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” is one of my favorites. Read his lyrics:

  1. When I survey the wondrous cross
    On which the Prince of glory died,
    My richest gain I count but loss,
    And pour contempt on all my pride.
  2. Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
    Save in the death of Christ my God!
    All the vain things that charm me most,
    I sacrifice them to His blood.
  3. See from His head, His hands, His feet,
    Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
    Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
    Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
  4. Were the whole realm of nature mine,
    That were a present far too small;
    Love so amazing, so divine,
    Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Most of the time when we sing this song, we sing it in a major key. Several years ago I heard the song performed with verses 1 and 2 sung in a major key and then there was a switch for verse 3. It was performed in a minor key and verse 4 switched back to the major key once again.

When you combine Watts’ powerful words, “See from his head, his hands, his feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down! Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown,” and combine that with the haunting sounds of a minor musical key, the combination can make the hairs on the back of your neck and your arms stand up.

The words remind us of what Jesus did. Today’s scripture reading does the same. As evidenced by Jesus’ head, his hands, his feet, the love that was his life’s blood poured down. In that moment there was a definite meeting at the corner of love and sorrow. And the crown Jesus wore became more valuable than any crown worn by any royalty before or since. This crown came at the cost of divine life. It’s value to us? Grace. The haunting music simply serves to drive the point home. It emphasizes for us, as sometimes we forget, just what Jesus did for you and for me.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Grace and Thankfulness,

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

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