Posted by: rcottrill | April 19, 2013

The Way of the Cross Leads Home

Words: Jessie H. Brown Pounds (b. Aug. 31, 1861; d. Mar. 3, 1921)
Music: Charles Hutchinson Gabriel (b. Aug. 18, 1856; d. Sept. 15, 1932)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Jessie Pounds)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Mrs. Pounds hymn was first published in 1906.

It is hardly surprising that the cross of Christ figures prominently in the teaching of the New Testament. It is central to the gospel of grace, and to the Christian life. Other hymns emphasize this, in addition to the present one. Fanny Crosby prays, “Jesus keep me near the cross,” and Elizabeth Clephane, testifies, “Beneath the cross of Jesus I fain [willingly, gladly] would take my stand.”

On the cross of Calvary, the Lord Jesus “humbled Himself” to the fullest extent (Phil. 2:8). He “endured the cross” for the joyous prospect of what it would accomplish for us (Heb. 12:2).

When criminals were crucified, the accusation against them was posted on the cross above them. (To discourage others from committing the same offence!) In the Lord’s case, the Jewish leaders had accused him of claiming (falsely, so they thought) of being “The King of the Jews” (Jn. 19:19).

But there’s more to it than that. More accusations were invisibly posted on the cross by God the Father. In taking sin’s punishment for us, it was as though all the accusations against us, all the sins charged to our account (including those of His accusers), were nailed there too (Col. 2:14).

It’s through the cross of Christ we’re saved and have peace with God (Eph. 2:16; Col. 1:20). We’ll never be able to boast rightly that it was by our own good works that earned our salvation (Eph. 2:8-9); our only boast should be in the cross of Christ (Gal. 6:14).

There is a dark side to this subject too, faced by every Christian. There are enemies of the cross (Phil. 3:18), those who consider the gospel message “foolishness” (I Cor. 1:18), and who persecute those who have trusted in Christ and proclaim the message of the cross (Gal. 5:11; 6:12).

To return to the application of the cross to the believer, we first come to the cross, as sinners, to put our faith in the Saviour and in what He has done for us. But there’s a sense in which our whole lives thereafter involve the cross. As Christians, we are to, as Jessie Pounds puts it, “go home [to heaven] by the way of the cross.”

CH-1) I must needs go home by the way of the cross,
There’s no other way but this;
I shall ne’er get sight of the gates of light,
If the way of the cross I miss.

The way of the cross leads home,
The way of the cross leads home,
It is sweet to know as I onward go,
The way of the cross leads home.

The Lord Jesus spoke a number of times about this. Taking up the cross involves a willing identification with Christ, whatever the cost. It is the essence of discipleship. “Whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (Lk. 14:27). And it’s not simply a one-time commitment, but a daily walk (Lk. 9:23).

Bearing the cross involves sacrifice (Mk. 10:21) and self denial. “Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me’” (Matt. 16:24).

To deny oneself is not simply a matter of foregoing or refusing something–like an extra piece of pie, or an expensive pair of shoes. Nor is the cross some burden we determine to bear (however grudgingly)–such as the insults of a coworker, or the interference of a critical mother-in-law. More precisely it’s to deny Self, to say “No” to selfishness, and self-centredness, and self will, and submit, day by day to the Lordship of Christ. That is the way of the cross.

CH-3) Then I bid farewell to the way of the world,
To walk in it never more;
For the Lord says, “Come,” and I seek my home,
Where He waits at the open door.

Questions:
1) How would our churches be different if they were filled with cross-bearers in the sense described?

2) Why is this a difficult principle to put in practice consistently?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Jessie Pounds)
The Cyber Hymnal


Responses

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