From the pen of Dr. Sam Jones
In 1869, Fanny J. Crosby wrote the popular and familiar hymn, “Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross.” This hymn, like many of Ms. Crosby’s hymns, has truly delighted the hearts of millions over the years. It’s an old hymn but its message is just as contemporary today as it was when it was written over 140 years ago. The hymn challenges each of us to pause and reflect on the significance of the cross in God’s scheme of our redemption. In each stanza, we are encouraged to keep our hearts near the cross.
If we are going to have a “burning passion” within us to serve God and an abiding desire to please Him, then it’s imperative for us to strive to remain near the cross. For the cross conveys a depth of love unmatched; for Paul declares “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Oh, what love! The cross symbolizes a master plan put in motion before the universe was created; again, Paul states, God…”who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began” (2 Tim. 1:9). The cross is a vision of hope to the hopeless, who have been separated from their Creator because of sin (Rom. 3:23; 6:23). The cross is what our Saviour said yes to after He and the Father concluded, there is no other way (cf. Matt. 26:36ff).
Ms. Crosby captioned in this hymn the plea that should be on the heart of every person, especially Christians, “Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross.” Consider the following words of the first three stanzas and chorus of the hymn:
Jesus, keep me near the cross,
There a precious fountain
Free to all, a healing stream
Flows from Calvary’s mountain.
Near the cross, a trembling soul,
Love and mercy found me;
There the Bright and Morning Star
Sheds its beams around me.
Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Let me walk from day to day,
With its shadow o’er me.
In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever;
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.
The significance of the cross is seen in the Scripture, where Christians on the first day of every Lord’s Day are to remember the cross (Acts 20:7; I Cor. 11:23ff). How often do you take the time to reflect on the cross? How often do you pray for God to keep your mind on the cross? My plea for us today is that we will strive to stay near the cross.