From the pen of Dr. Sam Jones
The author and composer of “The Old Rugged Cross” was George Bennard. The inspiration for this hymn was the result of period of struggles in his life. During the difficult and uncertain times in his life, he studied and reflected on the cross of Christ. As he was studying, his mind constantly kept reflecting back to Philippians 3:10 where Paul writes, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” From this verse, he got the theme for the hymn, “The Old Rugged Cross.” Below are the first two stanzas and the chorus of the powerful and favorite hymn of many.
On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
the emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
for a world of lost sinners was slain.
O 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.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it someday for a crown.
What a calming hymn! When you think of the old rugged cross of Calvary, what thoughts come to mind? When I consider the old rugged cross, there are at least four thoughts that fill my heart. One thought is gratitude! My heart is bubbling-over with unfathomable appreciation of what God the Father and Jesus our Savior have done for us (cf. Jo. 3:16). Another thought is, oh what amazing love demonstrated by our Father and Savior. In Romans 3:10-12, Paul gives a description of us by writing,
“There is none righteous, no not one: There is none who understand; There is none who seeks after God…There is none who does good, no, not one.”
Yet God asked His only Son to provide redemption for all (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21; Tit. 2:11-12). God watched His Son suffer and die for sinners like us (cf. Rom. 5:8). What love! A third thought of the old rugged cross is what compassion. God really, really cares for us. His deep and abiding love for us caused Him, the great Creator, to feel the need to provide a means for our restoration. So, He decided to suffer Himself by allowing His Child to endure pain. Finally, when I think of the old rugged cross, I think of what hope. As a result of the cross of Christ, you and I truly live in hope of two of several great expectations – (1) to one day live again, and (2) to live eternally in Heaven with God.
So let’s cherish the old rugged cross, and be thankful for this hymn. Why? For it reminds us of the wonderful blessings that we enjoy daily because of “The Old Rugged Cross.”