“The Old Rugged Cross” (Ready to Worship S7E1)

Ready to Worship Season 7, Episode 1 for Friday, January 19, 2018

This season on Ready to Worship we are examining different hymns that can help us to better focus in our worship. In this podcast, we are going to examine the song, The Old Rugged Cross. Our focus in this episode will be on bringing that cross on a hill far away a little closer in our worship.


The song begins with the words, “On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross…” For sure, the cross took place on a hill far away. The gospels refer to the place as Golgotha. John wrote, “And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst” (John 19:17-18). Golgotha was located outside of the city of Jerusalem. If my estimates are correct, that is over 7000 miles from where I live in Texas. That certainly fits the description of a hill far away. However, when I worship, that cross cant remain on a hill far away. I have to bring it close. It has to be near. The same holds true for you.

The cross has to be near when we observe the Lord’s Supper. We are observing it in remembrance of what our Lord did on that old rugged cross. To the saints at Corinth, Paul wrote, “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come” (1 Cor. 11:23-26). In a very direct way, the cross is in view as we partake of the Lord’s Supper.

The cross has to be near when we give. Again, to the saints at Corinth, Paul wrote, “I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love. For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (2 Cor. 8:8-9). Our Lord’s sacrifice on the cross is what motivates us to sacrifice.

The cross has to be near when we pray. It is through our Lord and His blood that we have access. To the saints at Ephesus, Paul wrote, “And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father” (Eph. 2:16-18).  Without the way that Christ made for us through the cross, we could not approach the Father.

The cross has to be near when the gospel is preached. To the saints at Corinth, Paul wrote, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18). When we preach, the cross has to be at the heart of the message.

Finally, when we sing the cross must be near. It is what helps us to sing with grace. To the saints at Colosse, Paul wrote, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Col. 3:16). The cross of Christ is what allows us to sing with grace. Without the cross, we couldn’t access God’s grace.

As we get ready to worship this week, lets focus on that old rugged cross on a hill far away. However, let’s not leave it there. Let’s bring it near that we might worship God in spirit and in truth.


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