Favourite songs (3): The Power of the Cross

I’ve been meaning to write this one for ages. The Power of the Cross is a very powerful hymn by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend that takes us back to Good Friday and to remember how Christ “became sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Oh, to see the dawn
of the darkest day:
Christ on the road to Calvary.
Tried by sinful men,
torn and beaten, then
nailed to a cross of wood.

This, the pow’r of the cross:
Christ became sin for us;
took the blame, bore the wrath—
we stand forgiven at the cross.


Keith Getty & Stuart Townend
Copyright © 2005 Thankyou Music

The reason this post has been sitting unwritten for so long is that half of me loves this hymn and half of me finds it just too much to bear. There is a part of me that doesn’t want to see the dawn of the darkest day. I like to think I can avail of the cross of Christ whilst walking quickly by without thinking too deeply about exactly what was involved.

There is a wonderful little booklet by John Richardson, “The Eternal Cross“, reflecting on the sufferings of Christ and the place of suffering at the heart of God. He points us to John 14:8-9, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father”, and says:

Of course, these words are also comforting to the armchair theologian who looks at Jesus healing the sick or raising the dead. It is easy to see the Father there, if we have already decided that the Father is the one who always delivers when he is called upon. But the cross confronts that illusion by saying, “Look, here is also the Father. He who sees this Christ, the Christ on the cross, has also seen the Father.” Yet crucifixion is an unpalatable sight, from which human instinct turns away. Trying to look at this to see God is like trying to look at the sun. We must force ourselves into the confrontation.

And so I sing this wonderful hymn.

On the Athanasian Creed

Until today, I don’t believe I have ever had a phrase from the Athanasian Creed pop into my head while walking through a shopping centre with my children. I don’t think I have ever actually been to a church service where the Athanasian Creed was recited, come to that.

We were returning to our car after shopping at the farmer’s market in Solihull, and had stopped for a chat with Stephen Dancer and his bookstall from Solihull Presbyterian Church. We got talking about Pierced for our Transgressions, and the importance of the doctrine of the Trinity for correctly understanding penal substitution. We must not, in our thinking about the atonement, set the persons of the Trinity at odds with each other, as if the Father were demanding blood from an uninvolved, unwilling Son. The distinct persons act together to bring about the common will of God. One purpose, yet distinct persons carrying out their different aspects of the one plan of redemption.

And then, walking along through the shopping centre as you do, a phrase from the Athanasian Creed just popped into my head: “Neither confounding the Persons : nor dividing the Substance”. Exactly.