The Bible tells us in Colossians 3 that we are “set our minds” on eternal things. On heavenly things. Setting your mind is like setting the oven. If you let your mind set itself, it will wander in all kinds of directions. So we set it. And re-set it. Over and over again.
This week in particular, we should be setting our minds on the road that led Jesus to Golgotha. It is good for us to remember, reflect and meditate on Jesus’ faithful obedience to His Father’s will. There’s a lot for us to pause and ponder. Set your mind.
On Friday night, one of the hymns we’ll sing at our Good Friday service (have you invited anyone yet?) is the Isaac Watts classic When I Survey The Wondrous Cross. Watts, who lived in England in the early 1700’s was something of a rebel. The church in which he grew up sang only metrical Psalms, believing that the inspired hymns in the Old Testament were superior for corporate worship to anything a contemporary writer could come up with.
Watts knew that the early church sang Psalms. And hymns. And spiritual songs. He knew that it’s likely that Philippians 2:5-11 were words to a hymn sung by the first generation of Christians. And Watts wanted the church in his own day to have hymns that included what the book of Psalms could only hint at – hymns that would clearly declare the glory of Jesus, the Messiah.
So he and his fellow dissenters included modern hymns in their worship, much to the disapproval of the Psalm singing congregations. Watts would go on to write more than 600 hymn texts. We still sing many of them today. O God, Our Help In Ages Past. Joy To The World. Jesus Shall Reign. I Sing The Mighty Power of God.
And When I Survey The Wondrous Cross.
Watts wrote his hymns in a common meter so his words could be easily sung to well known hymn tunes. The tune we use was written nearly a century after Watts wrote the lyrics. This version, from Selah, is worth a click and a listen.
|If you had grown up in England, you would have sung the hymn to a different tune, one written in the late 1700’s by Edward Miller who was the flautist in Handel’s orchestra. Here is that hymn tune, sung by British pop star Cliff Richard.|
|But it’s likely that before any the hymn text was paired with either of these common hymn tunes, it may have been sung to the Scottish folk tune O Waly Waly. Here is Kristyn Getty singing Watt’s words to that melody.|
|Whichever tune you choose, Watts’ lyrics are a masterful reflection on how we should be setting our minds during this week.|
When I survey the wond’rous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
To survey the cross means to take a good, long, hard look at it. It means to think deeply about what happened there. When we do, Watts notes, we will see the emptiness and vanity of the things we most often think of as significant in this life.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God:
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.
In this verse, Watts turns to the words of the Apostle Paul in Galatians 6:14 “far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” I’ll save my thoughts on that text for us to consider when we gather on Friday night.
See from his head, his hands, his feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet?
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
The wounds. The pierced wrists and ankles. The drops of blood that fall from his thorn pierced brow. Jesus didn’t have to suffer. He chose to suffer. For us. Sorrow and love.
His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o’er his body on the tree;
Then I am dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.
Christ dies. And we die with Him. Therefore, we no longer live. Jesus now lives in us. And the life we now live we live by faith in the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself up for us (Galatians 2:20).
The last verse sums up everything Watts is saying in this hymn. When we survey the cross, there is only one rational response. To sell everything we have for the pearl of great price.
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
Amen. Set your mind on that this week. We have a big weekend ahead of us.
|Here’s an idea. You can download this image and post it on your social media feed. Or email it to friends inviting them to join you (click here to download the image). |
And yes, we know there is rain in the forecast on Saturday. We have indoor plans for the Resurrection Rally. So bring the kids and their friends!
LET’S LEARN THE 6 DAYS OF CREATION
Speaking of our kids, don’t forget the KIDS CONNECT on Thursday nights this month. It’s not too late to bring your kids and join in the fun!
WOMEN’S SPRING GATHERING | APR 25
|Ladies, I hope you’ve blocked out Monday night, April 25 on your calendar. If you have any questions about the evening, contact Jen Gurney at firstname.lastname@example.org.|
BABY/CHILD DEDICATION – mAY 8
|On Mother’s Day, we will take time in our service to pray for and dedicate babies and children to the Lord.|
NEW MEMBERSHIP CLASS | MAY 14
|If you’ve been visiting Redeemer for a while and have wondered about becoming a member of our church family, we’d love to connect with you about church membership. Here are the details about our upcoming membership class.|
| What if everything about Jesus’ life and ministry was true and accurate, with this one exception – He didn’t rise from the dead – how would our lives and our world be different today? The Bible gives us a pretty clear idea of why the resurrection of Jesus is the most significant aspect of our faith. We’ll explore that thought on Sunday.|
See you in church.
Soli Deo Gloria!