This passion hymn invites us to behold Jesus on the cross, both to remember how deeply our sins have stung him, and to remember that freedom from death and sin - true life - is found by looking to Him. The song not only tells the story of Jesus' suffering and death, but also of His triumphant resurrection and the eternal proclamation that peace and pardon were won through His death and resurrection. This text represented somewhat of a musical challenge in that the first two stanzas focused on Jesus' suffering and the last two stanzas on His resurrection, making it difficult to write a tune or find a mood that would do justice to the feeling of both halves of the song. The solution was to write one melody (so that congregations could easily learn the song) and set it to minor chords for the first two stanzas and major chords for the second two stanzas. The result provides a sharp musical contrast between the suffering of Jesus and the triumph of His resurrection which helps us to feel the contrast of the lyrics.
Posts Tagged ‘The Cross’
This song is a cry for help in the struggle that every Christian faces against their remaining sin. What should we do when sin seems to "take such hold" on us that we feel powerless against it? The song reminds us that there is only one place to look - to Jesus, the source of forgiveness and grace. Remembering the sufferings of Jesus, as a result of our sin (the very sin we are struggling with) will remind us of the grief, anguish, sadness, and guilt that our sins deserve. But the very suffering that reminds us of our sin's penalty also reminds us of the incredible, gracious, love that God has demonstrated for us at the cross. Because Jesus suffered in our place, we need not face eternal suffering for our sin. Because Jesus rose again and conquered sin and death, we can experience His resurrection power in putting our remaining sin to death. We do this not by our own effort, but by starting at the foot of the cross where we are reminded of God's grace and the source of power in the struggle against sin.
This song seeks to portray the amazing contrast between what Jesus possessed as the divine Son of God and what He gave up to redeem His people from their sins. 1 John 4:10 says "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." The suffering that Jesus endured to turn the Father's wrath away from us ("propitiation") demonstrates both His and His Father's amazing love for us. Jesus was willing to trade the glory and majesty that He possessed from eternity past to become a poor peasant who ultimately roamed Israel homeless and was executed for crimes He did not commit. He was willing to be tempted beyond anything we can fully understand by Satan himself, willing to be forsaken by every single person in this world, to be mocked and scorned, beaten, and crucified, all while deserving worship. Philippians 2:6-8 says "though he was in the form of God, [Jesus] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."
We never move past the need to meditate deeply on the suffering that Jesus endured for our sins. Without reflecting often on the unjust suffering of our glorious friend and king we can easily slide further and further into complacency and be unaffected by the magnitude of what took place at Calvary. The spotless Lamb of God died for us - unworthy, helpless sinners entrenched in our rebellion, intent on slaying Him and usurping His authority over us. The song begins by inviting all to come and behold Jesus dying on the cross that they might find the endless and abiding love of God. The chorus answers this invitation, declaring that we will indeed come and remember that mercy moved God to satisfy the demands of righteousness by sending His own Son to bear the punishment for our sins. In the second verse we cry with hymn-writer John Newton that the cross might continue to pierce our hearts as we remember that it was for our sins that Jesus suffered and died.
The Christian holiday of Good Friday, the Friday before Resurrection Day (commonly called Easter), is a very special day for on it we remember how our precious savior suffered and died on our behalf. To non-Christians our fascination with the death and suffering of Jesus may seem morbid at best and downright disgusting at worst. But there is a purpose to meditating on Jesus’ pain and torture. God has done something to our hearts like He promised in Zechariah 2:10 (“they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him”) so that considering the bloody cross moves us to repentance, faith, and love for Jesus. It is at the cross that we see most clearly how seriously God takes sin and the punishment it deserves. We learn from 1 Peter 2:24 that Jesus “bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” It should have been us on that cross; we put Him there. It is because of the sins that we commit daily, the sins we often dismiss and minimize as “not that big a deal,” that Jesus suffered. The cross is precious not just because we see the seriousness of sin but more importantly, the unbelievable depth of grace. On the cross God’s mercy moved Him to give His own beloved Son over to bear His wrath when He had done nothing to deserve it. Look what God did to reconcile us to Himself! Look what Jesus endured to pay for our sin and win us to Himself! We need not look to the cross with fear but with expectation, for it is there where we find true love, acceptance, and friendship because of what Jesus did.