577) Beneath the Cross of Jesus

     

     In Mark 8:34 are these words of Jesus:  “If anyone would come after me he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”  Jesus tells us to all to ‘take up our cross’ if we want to follow him, and those words have led to an expression Christians often use when speaking of their troubles.  It is ‘my cross to bear’ many will say when speaking of their bad back or frequent headaches or financial losses or difficult loved ones or whatever.  It is a good line.  It dignifies our suffering, and there is some comfort in that.  We may suffer because we are following Christ, or we may suffer simply because that is how it goes in this fallen world.  Either way, suffering can bring us closer to God.  Hebrews 5:8-9 said even of Jesus, “Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”  Even Jesus had to suffer, and so he said, “Take up your cross and follow me.”   One might ask themselves, “What kind of king or queen do I think I am that I should not have to suffer?  Everyone suffers, so who am I to ask, ‘Why me, Why me?’”   Why not me?  After all, unimaginable suffering came even to the Son of God, Savior of the world, so why not to me?

     Elizabeth Clephane was one who had more than her share of crosses to bear.  Her father died when she was only nine, and her mother died three years later.  Elizabeth herself was always frail and in poor health, and she died when she was only 39.  But she bore her many crosses with dignity, and used what energy she had to follow Jesus.  She and her sister used their time and their wealth to serve the poor, the sick, and those otherwise in need.  In time, they had given away everything they had, living little better than the poor they were serving.  The people of the town of Melrose in Scotland loved Elizabeth and her sister, remembering their cheerful disposition in spite of all they suffered.

     Not only did Elizabeth take up her cross and follow Jesus, she also wrote a song about it.  She wrote many poems, and several were put to music after her death.  But only one of them became a favorite, the hymn “Beneath the Cross of Jesus.”  Every verse speaks of the cross of Jesus; taking a stand beneath it, looking to it, abiding in it, and resting in it.  Knowing how she literally wore herself out in serving Jesus make some of the lines even more meaningful.  The cross, she wrote, is ‘a mighty rock within a weary land, a home along the way, a place to rest from the burdens of the day,’ and so forth.  Elizabeth knew her Bible well.  These three brief verses contain images and phrases from Jeremiah, Matthew, the Psalms, and three from Isaiah.  It is a wonderful hymn, filled with faith in and devotion to the one who died on that cross.

Elizabeth Clephane  (1830-1869)

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Mark 8:34-37  —  Then (Jesus) called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.  What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?  Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”

Hebrews 5:8-9  —   Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

Psalm 62:7  —  My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.

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BENEATH THE CROSS OF JESUS (three of the original five verses)

By Elizabeth Clephane, 1868

Beneath the cross of Jesus I long to 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 burdens of the day…

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 contrite 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.

———-

Listen to this hymn at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30Xgpw1f-fw

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