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Words: Henry Augustine Collins (b. Apr. 28, 1827; d. Jan. 29, 1919)
Music: Adoro Te, by Joseph Barnby (b. Aug. 12, 1838; d. Jan. 28, 1896)
Note: Collins began as an Anglican priest, and later in his ministry became a Roman Catholic. This hymn was written in 1854.
Sometimes a friend will mention an individual, asking if we know him. Not recognizing the name, we may respond, “No, who is he?” We’re asking for some identifying characteristics, and possibly the circumstances in which we might have become acquainted with him.
Is it just my own experience, or do our wives not seem to have a better head for this sort of thing? “Oh, don’t you remember the party at the Jones’s, about ten years ago? Remember that hideous red dress Mabel wore? Your old college buddy, Bill Franks was there, and he brought Henry with him. Henry’s some kind of city engineer I think. He fixes roads.” And we nod, patiently, trying to recall any fragment of memory from that long ago evening.
Perhaps establishing Henry’s identity isn’t that important to us. But, on the other hand, if we’ve been bothered for weeks by some deep, bone-jarring potholes in front of the house, he might be a person who could help us, someone we need to contact.
All of this came to mind as I pondered the identity of Jesus. Who is He? Some may not care what the answer to that question is. An ancient wise man, or maybe a mythical character–who really cares? They may even go to church, and sing the hymns–after all, that’s what we do in church. “On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross”–but to them it’s not much more than an old-fashioned, sentimental religious song.
But if Christ is who He said He is, and has done what the Bible says He has done, it is foolish to treat Him with casual indifference. “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?” (Lam. 1:12). Over eighty times in the New Testament the One who hung upon that cross is called by a triple title, the Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s think about those three for a moment.
“Lord” translates the Greek word kurios. In its common use in that day it identified one who was the master or ruler of others. That relates to Christ’s leadership of His followers (cf. Lk. 5:5; 8:24). But when used of Christ in particular it also has, uniquely, to do with His deity. As God the Son, He is “our Master in heaven” (Col. 4:1). “He is Lord [or Ruler] of all” (Acts 10:36).
“Jesus” means Jehovah is Salvation. It was the earthly name given to Christ, before His birth, because “He will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). The name is used of Him over nine hundred times in the Bible. In most cases–especially after His ascension into heaven–it is combined with “Lord.” He is no longer the humble Jesus walking the dusty paths of the Holy Land, but the Lord Jesus, restored to heaven’s glory.
“Christ” means Anointed One. It is equivalent to the Old Testament title Messiah. That name ties Him to the many prophecies given before His birth about One who would come to be Israel’s Messiah-King. At His first coming, His reign was rejected, and He was nailed to a cruel cross. But the Bible promises that He is soon to come again, when He will take up His glorious rule (Matt. 24:30).
English clergyman Henry Collins wrote a passionate hymn which clearly answers the question we have asked about Christ’s identity. As a kind of refrain, each stanza concludes with the couplet: “Jesus, my Lord, I Thee adore; / O make me [cause me to] love Thee more and more.” Its passion reminds me of the psalmist’s words: “Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You” (Ps. 73:25).
CH-1) Jesus, my Lord, my God, my All,
Hear me, blest Saviour, when I call;
Hear me, and from Thy dwelling place
Pour down the riches of Thy grace;
Jesus, my Lord, I Thee adore;
O make me love Thee more and more.
CH-2) Jesus, too late I Thee have sought;
How can I love Thee as I ought?
And how extol Thy matchless fame,
The glorious beauty of Thy name?
The author marvels that One so infinitely great would take an interest in him. That humble adoration is a much more fitting response to Him.
CH-3) Jesus, what didst Thou find in me
That Thou hast dealt so lovingly?
How great the joy that Thou hast brought,
So far exceeding hope or thought!
1) What hinders this kind of passion from filling the heart of every Christian?
2) What will life be like for the one who has such a passion?