The Old Rugged Cross*


“Jesus . . . endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

I wear a necklace with a cross every day.  I don’t wear it as a fashion statement nor is it meant to be a bold proclamation of my faith.   In fact, when I am at work, I wear it under my uniform.  I don’t wear it for others, I wear it for myself, to remind me of who I am and whose I am.  I wear it to remember what Jesus did for me.  I actually do wear it to declare my faith – to myself.

To our contemporary perspective the cross is a holy icon of the Christian faith, but in first-century Rome, the cross was anything but honored or holy.  Death on a cross was a barbaric form of capital punishment.  It was horrifically bloody and the person on the cross screamed in agony until he was spent.  It was very public, the condemned were hung near public entries to the city or in the public square.  The criminal was stripped naked, adding to the humiliation.  The cross was a shameful way to die.

How like God to take what man considered shameful and make it a symbol of freedom, forgiveness and perfect, holy love.  God specializes in taking shame and turning it into freedom.  Maybe you, like me, have something that weighs on your heart, something that makes you feel shameful; you may even feel like you yourself are shameful.  Perhaps you past is filled with shame, or you heard shame spoken over you so much you took it as your identity.  Beloved, if you are in Christ, you don’t have to carry that shame anymore.  Jesus took it all to the cross.  He wore it like a mantel on His own body, so you never have to bear it again.  You stand before Him, free of shame – holy, clean, innocent.

If you are not a Christian, may I encourage you to receive the forgiveness and freedom that you long for?  Jesus Christ took all your sin and shame on Himself and died on a cross – for you.  He can make you clean and whole and fill your heart with peace and joy.  Just pray this prayer: “Lord Jesus, I am covered with sin and shame and I long to be set free.  I receive by faith the freedom You paid for on the cross.  I give myself to You, just as You gave Yourself for me.  Thank You for loving me enough to die for me.  Amen.”  If you prayed that prayer, please contact me so I can rejoice with you.

In Jesus Christ there is no shame.

*”The Old Rugged Cross” is the title of a classic and beloved hymn written by George Bennard, 1873-1960.