Beneath The Cross of Jesus

redbubbleBeneath the cross of Jesus I fain would take my stand,
The shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land;
A home within the wilderness, a rest upon the way,
From the burning of the noontide heat, and the burden of the day.

O safe and happy shelter, O refuge tried and sweet,
O trysting place where Heaven’s love and Heaven’s justice meet!
As to the holy patriarch that wondrous dream was giv’n,
So seems my Savior’s cross to me, a ladder up to Heav’n.

There lies beneath its shadow but on the further side
The darkness of an awful grave that gapes both deep and wide;
And there between us stands the cross two arms outstretched to save
A watchman set to guard the way from that eternal grave.

Upon that cross of Jesus mine eye at times can see
The very dying form of One who suffered there for me;
And from my stricken heart with tears two wonders I confess;
The wonders of redeeming love and my unworthiness.

I take, O cross, thy shadow for my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of His face;
Content to let the world go by, to know no gain or loss,
My sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross.

Words by Elizabeth C. Clephane, 1868
Music by Frederick C. Maker, 1881

 


See, a king will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice. Each one will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land.
Isaiah 32:1 – 2

He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.
Genesis 28:12

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace
Ephesians 1:7

“I am unworthy–how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth.
Job 40:4

It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.
Ephesians 5:12

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Galatians 6:14

they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.
Revelations 22:4 – 5


 

 

I am not a fan of hot weather. My ideal temperature is in the mid-seventies. Yet I chose to spend a week with the Boy Scouts living on an island off the coast of the Florida Keys. Mid-seventies is what we were lucky to reach by morning. Needless to say, when the sun was high over head, it was well above my comfort zone. Thankfully our camp was set just within the tree line where there was shade from the hottest heat of the sun and a gentle breeze could be enjoyed. If it were not for the shelter from the sun, I do not know that I could have survived the week. This is the image which is drawn for us in Elizabeth Clephane’s hymn, “Beneath The Cross Of Jesus.”

The imagery of the break from the burning sun is presented starting in the first verse where it says, “Beneath the cross of Jesus I fain would take my stand, The shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land; A home within the wilderness, a rest upon the way, From the burning of the noontide heat, and the burden of the day.”

As we begin to look more closely, we see the meaning behind the picture. It is the cross, which is our shelter. Described as “a mighty rock within a weary land.” The cross becomes our place of refuge from the trial of this world. This image draws our minds to Isaiah 32:1 – 2 were we read, “See, a king will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice. Each one will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land.” This image is tied to the Great King, Jesus himself who hung upon that very cross.

The hymn continues by describing it as “O safe and happy shelter, O refuge tried and sweet.” It then begins to change the image from that of a place of shelter, to seeing the cross as the way to God. It is a “place where Heaven’s love and Heaven’s justice meet!” It bridges the gap that separated us from God, bringing together His justice and mercy. Just like the stairway seen in the dream by Jacob in Genesis 28:12, the cross is seen as the direct pathway to God.

But how can a cross be the way to God? Clephane reminds us that it was the sacrifice upon the Cross that makes the difference. A reminder that should come to us as we see the cross, for “Upon that cross of Jesus mine eye at times can see, The very dying form of One who suffered there for me.” It was Christ death upon the cross that opened the way to God. His death, in our place. This is a wonder beyond our understanding, and so the hymn writer says, “And from my stricken heart with tears two wonders I confess; The wonders of redeeming love and my unworthiness.”

It is the wonder of God’s redeeming love that opens the door for us to know him. Ephesians 1:7 says, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” We have been forgiven of all our sins. The things that separated us from God have been erased that we might stand before him. He extends to us a love that we do not deserve. We are unworthy of His gift. Job understood this in chapter 40:4 when he declared “I am unworthy–how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth.” So the wonder of our unworthiness should remind us of the extend of God’s redeeming love.

The cross is our shelter and our bridge. It protects us from the trials of this world and opens the door to eternal life. It will lead us into the presence of God, that we may look upon His face. His face is the only sunshine we will need for all eternity. (Revelation 22:4 – 5)

Yes, when we find ourselves standing beneath the Cross of Jesus, we find ourselves looking at the bridge to God. This item of shame to the world upon which criminals died, is to us a thing of glory. So in the company of Paul in Galatians 6:14, who said, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” I join in the words of the hymn declaring, “My sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross.”

 

 

Read more about “Beneath The Cross of Jesus.”

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