I am accepted, You were forsaken
By Julius Izza Tabi
The old rugged cross has made a history over 2000 years now. This day so called Good Friday is very ironical, one actually wanders why a day that show Christ humiliated and cruelly hanged on the old rugged cross would be called a Good Friday. Wasn’t he given an unjust hearing, that his human right was actually violated? Did he really deserve to have gone through all that agony that even made him, while on the old rugged cross to cry, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” meaning, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Is it really right to brand this day ‘Good Friday?’ Such questions actually made one, a lawyer to have concluded that Jesus was not given a fair trial by the Roman governor, and sought to file a case against the Romans for unjustly dealing with the man Jesus.
Humanly, yes, Jesus was never given a fair trial. What was his wrong? Healing on Sabbath? Did he lead a revolution? No, he didn’t do anything worth deserving him a capital punishment of death on the cross. It is a Good Friday because his suffering yielded to the satisfaction of God’s wrath, the wrath that would have been poured on you and me for having rejected God.
This morning before I went to church, I saw a very interesting cartoon illustrating this, in which one person said he was sad for calling this day a Good Friday, yet Jesus was brutally handled. His friend asked, suppose it was you to die and Jesus sacrificed to die on your behalf, how would you feel? The reply was that, “I will feel good.” It is a Good Friday, yes, a Good Friday because, the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), I should have died on that cross because of my sin, but Christ took my place. He died that I might have life, and life in abundance, “For the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, his Son.” Through his death, I am reconciled to God, I am redeemed, and now through him, I have a restored relationship with God. So, if his death is all that to me and you, why not a Good Friday?
It is an irony that a cruel death is positively referred. John the Baptist called Jesus, the Lamb of God, whose sole purpose was to be sacrificed for an atonement. Letting alone the Jewish practice of sacrifices, I have grown in a typical community where an African Traditional Religious practices involved the sacrifice of Lambs. For example, if there was a sickness in the community, ancestors would be consulted about it. In most cases their response would be because there was an infamous act, a prohibited one that has been done by a member of the living that has displeased the ancestors. The remedy would usually be to make a sacrifice of a Lamb, whose blood would be sprinkled to cleanse the community. I have not participated in slaughtering a sacrifice lamb, but I have ever slaughtered a sheep or goat, at least not only once. It is not all that fun to see life out of the animal but if you need the meat, you have to make the slaughter, if you need the blood you have to do the slaughter. That’s exactly what God had done in Christ for you and me. So we do not have to lament and mourn because he went through that, yes, we can be sorrowful for our sins, but we have tens of thousands of reasons to rejoice because it is a Good Friday.
He knew no sin, actually Pilate said it that he had found no reason to have Jesus the ‘king of the Jews’ sentenced to death, but the Jews unanimously shouted “crucify him, crucify him.” On the old rugged cross, hanged Christ, the Son of God as testified by one of the centurion on duty on that day. On the old rugged cross is where your sin has been laid upon Christ, that you may be free. What a love, that made him bear the Cross for my sake? On the old rugged cross is where there is victory over sin, death and the devil. No, darkness did not overcome light. On the old rugged cross, I see Grace, God’s abundant Grace, the grace that gives life, the grace that relieves me from earning my salvation, I wouldn’t have worked enough to earn it. On the old, rugged cross, was a way opened for me to a fellowship with God, yes “since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1).
In remembering his gracious sacrifice on the old rugged tree, it is right for us to cherish the old rugged cross, to highly esteem this cross, the cross of our salvation. I offer you this classical hymn written by George Bennard (1873-1958), “The old rugged cross.”
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.
Refrain: 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 some day for a crown.
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. (Refrain)
In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine, a wondrous beauty I see, for ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died, to pardon and sanctify me. (Refrain)
To that old rugged cross I will ever be true, its shame and reproach gladly bear; then he’ll call me some day to my home far away, where his glory forever I’ll share.
 Read more about the history of this hymn here http://www.lectionary.org/HymnStories/The%20Old%20Rugged%20Cross.htm