by Linda Veath Cox

As I knelt at the Communion rail the first Sunday of Lent, I lifted my eyes and took in the view. Next to the pulpit stood our large wooden cross draped in purple for Lent. And I was kneeling directly in front of it. The sense of its towering over me as I took Communion—the body and blood of Christ—filled me with wonder and brought to mind the hymn written by Isaac Watts in the 1700’s, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.”

That beautiful hymn, the most famous of Watt’s writings, has been labeled “the greatest hymn in the English language.” It gives us a very intimate look at Jesus on the cross. An instrument of cruel torture and death that became God’s instrument for our salvation. Yet when Watts looked upon it, he called it “wondrous.”

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.

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge

of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things,

and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ …

~ Philippians 3:8 NKJV

What do you see when you gaze upon the cross?

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.

But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,

by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

~ Galatians 6:14 NKJV

What do you see when you gaze upon the cross?

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?

… He humbled Himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!

~ Philippians 2:8 NIV

What do you see when you gaze upon the cross?

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!

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us.

And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. ~ 1 John 3:16 NIV

My prayer is that we all may see the love of Jesus—love so deep that it suffered the agony of crucifixion to proclaim the magnitude of His love for us—and fall on our knees in wonder and worship. It is indeed the wondrous cross.