Posted by: rcottrill | June 12, 2015

Jesus, Wonderful Lord

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Words: Paul White (no information available)
Music: Paul White

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal (none)
Hymnary.org

Note: It will be clear from what’s missing above that little is known about Paul White. There was a Christian missionary doctor with that name, but there’s no evidence he wrote any hymns. At a guess, I’d place the author’s dates at about 1900 to 1970. The song was published in 1933, and the copyright was renewed by Mr. White in 1961. I have an old recording, made over half a century ago, of a couple of friends singing the song beautifully, as a duet. If you know more about the author, please share it.

1) Born among cattle, in poverty sore,
Living in meekness by Galilee’s shore,
Dying in shame as the wicked ones swore:
Jesus, wonderful Lord!

Wonderful, wonderful Jesus!
He is my Friend, true to the end;
He gave Himself to redeem me–
Jesus, wonderful Lord!

You likely know the old joke: What’s a paradox? Answer: Two doctors. The actual dictionary definition is more to our point here. A paradox is a statement that seems to contradict itself but, in fact, it may not.

People can be paradoxical too. That is, there can be things about them that are contradictory. They can seem to be one thing, but in reality are something quite different. For example, Hetty Green (1834-1916) lived in the States in grinding poverty. To save money, she was known never to use heat or hot water in her barren apartment. And when her son broke his leg, Mrs. Green scoured the city where she lived, looking for a free clinic to treat him. Because of the delay, the leg never did heal properly, and it later had to be amputated.

But Hetty Green was far from poor. In fact, she may have been the world’s richest woman at the time, and her obsessive stinginess led the editors of the Guinness Book of World Records to label her the greatest miser who ever lived. In today’s money, she was worth between two and four billion dollars when she died. Her chosen lifestyle and her wealth were certainly paradoxical.

There’s a sense in which the Lord Jesus Christ provides the supreme paradox of all. What He is, and has been from all eternity, is in stark contrast to how He appeared on earth. God the Son, the second person of the Trinity, worshiped by angels and enjoying the glories of heaven, came to this earth in poverty. As the virgin-born Son of Mary, His first cradle was a manger (Lk. 2:7).

The Bible says, “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (II Cor. 8:9). In fact, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Grace is God’s unearned, unmerited favour to us, and it was by His grace that God the Father sent Christ to die for our sins, so we might be cleansed and forgiven (Eph. 1:7).

He blessed us in other paradoxical ways by His “poverty,” as well. Jesus was severely tempted by the devil (Lk. 4:1-13), yet He is able to offer us deliverance from temptation (Matt. 6:13; I Cor. 10:13). He was weary and thirsty (Jn. 4:6-7), yet He offers us rest (Matt. 11:29-30), and offers us the spiritual water of life (Jn. 4:10, 14-14). He suffered human weakness, and death (Matt. 27:50), but through His death He helps the weak and saves the lost (Rom. 1:16).

It is the repeated testimony of the Bible that Christ never sinned (I Pet. 2:22-23; Heb. 4:15), yet He died in shame as a criminal (Isa. 53:12; Matt. 27:38). He died in a strange and supernatural darkness, Matthew tells us (Matt. 27:45), but He offers light to the world. He said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (Jn. 8:12; cf. Eph. 5:8).

All of these things are part of a strange and wonderful paradox. The present hymn takes note of some of the contrasts in the life of Christ, making Mr. White’s beautiful song worthy of our attention. The third stanza reminds us that He was a Friend to the friendless (Lk. 15:1-2), though He Himself was betrayed by Judas, denied by Peter, and forsaken by His followers in His hour of greatest suffering. I trust that He is your Friend too.

Questions:
1) What are some other paradoxes in the Person and earthly life of the Lord Jesus?

2) Which would you say is the greatest paradox of all about Him?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal (none)
Hymnary.org


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