A time-honored question asked of many children is, “What color is your favorite?” The answer can give insight into a child’s world as well as a child’s heart. As we grow older, however, such questions as this are replaced by inquiries such as “Where do you work?” and “What do you do for a living?” The answers to these questions may give insight into a person’s wealth, power, or prestige, but they rarely give any glimpse of one’s heart.
Outside the city walls of Jerusalem almost two thousand years ago, God gave us more than just a glimpse of His heart when He showed us His love for us. It, too, was revealed by a color, because on that day God’s love ran red. For you. For me. For all people of all time.
Jesus, the Son of God, was being crucified.
Throughout His ministry on earth, Jesus continuously stated that He came into this world not to be served but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45, Matthew 20:28). Not to condemn us but to take away our sins (John 1:29, 3:14-17). Not to die of old age surrounded by His loved ones but to die on a cross surrounded by criminals, Roman soldiers, and a mob that hated Him (Mark 9:31, Matthew 16:21).
When I think of colors that reflect God’s love, I think of blue – like the sky on a beautiful spring morning. I think of white – like a soft, quiet snow on a winter night. I think of green – like a garden in full bloom on a summer evening. I think of the colors of an entire rainbow after a heavy and thunderous rain.
But that day outside the walls of ancient Jerusalem, on a hill called Golgotha (meaning the place of the Skull, John 19:17), God’s love ran red. He allowed His Son – Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah – to die a horrible death in order to show us, beyond any question and any doubt, how far He was willing to go to bring us home to Heaven.
It was not about wealth or power or prestige. It was not about skies or flowers or rainbows. It was about eternal life, and there was only one way to obtain it for us. The Son of God had to die, and the Father had to watch and let it happen.
Love ran red. And our sins were washed white.
There are so many beautiful songs about Christmas and Easter. Joy and life. Peace and victory. Even preparatory seasons such as Advent and Lent have hymns that are near and dear to our hearts.
The day Jesus died on the cross should be no different. And, thanks be to God, it is not.
No matter how many times we read the Gospels, and no matter how many times we watch well-intended movies, we will never know – we can never know – the true horror of the last twenty-four hours in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. That is exactly why sacred music is such a gift to us. It speaks when our hearts cannot. It lifts us up when our minds go numb.
Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, and Jonas Myrin are three of my favorite artists in contemporary Christian music. I truly believe that each one of these men has a gift from Almighty God, and each one uses that gift to honor Him.
Four years ago, they, together with the talents of Matt Armstrong and Ed Cash, wrote “At The Cross.” The subtitle of this moving song is “Love Ran Red.” Here are some of the words:*
There’s a place where mercy reigns and never dies
There’s a place where streams of grace flow deep and wide
Where all the love I’ve ever found
Comes like a flood
Comes flowing down
At the cross
At the cross
I surrender my life
I’m in awe of You, I’m in awe of You
Where Your love ran red
And my sin washed white
I owe all to You, I owe all to You
Today, as you prepare for the power and majesty of Resurrection Sunday (Easter), stop for at least a moment and linger at the cross. Close your eyes and feel God’s love for you. Say a prayer of thanksgiving that you have been called and chosen to be a child of our Heavenly Father.
And remember that Jesus died to set you free as His love ran red.
-- Dr. John Morris
* “At The Cross (Love Ran Red).” Publishing: © 2014 Shout! Music Publishing (APRA) (admin. in the US and Canada at CapitolCMG Publishing.com) / Thankyou Music (PRS) (admin. worldwide at CapitolCMGPublishing.com excluding Europe which is admin. by Integrity music.com) / Universal Music - Brentwood Benson Songs / sixsteps Songs / Worship Together Music / S.D.G. Publishing / McKittrick Music (BMI) / sixsteps Music / worshiptogether.com Songs / Said And Done Music (ASCAP) / Universal Music - Brentwood Benson Tunes / Countless Wonder Publishing / Fots Music (SESAC) (admin. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com). Writers: Matt Armstrong, Ed Cash, Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, and Jonas Myrin.