21 September 2022 Anno Domini
the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God. 40 There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome; 41 (Who also, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered unto him;) and many other women which came up with him unto Jerusalem.” (Mark 15:39-41; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
There was a curious mixture of souls that surrounded the cross of our Lord at the moment of His declaring “It is finished!” Primarily the assorted crowd was represented by those who hated Him most, and those who loved Him best. The women of tender heart remained at the cross throughout, and Mary Magdalene waited till His body was removed. She then followed Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus to see where His body was entombed. John, the beloved disciple, dared to remain at the very foot of the cross with the women. Love compels fidelity! This wonderful hymn is written by the blind Fanny Crosby – a lady, being blind, who wrote more than 9,000 hymns.
JESUS KEEP ME NEAR THE CROSS
1 Jesus, keep me near the cross,
There a precious fountain;
Free to all, a healing stream,
Flows from Calv’ry’s mountain.
In the cross, in the cross
Be my glory ever,
Till my ransomed soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.
2 Near the cross, a trembling soul,
Love and mercy found me;
There the Bright and Morning Star
Shed His beams around me. [Refrain]
3 Near the cross! O lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day
With its shadow o’er me. [Refrain]
4 Near the cross! I’ll watch and wait,
Hoping, trusting ever;
Till I reach the golden strand,
Just beyond the river. [Refrain]
1 Jesus, keep me near the cross, There a precious fountain; Free to all, a healing stream, Flows from Calv’ry’s mountain. The only power that held John and the women near the cross was the power of love for their Lord. That love was not innate to the human soul, but was a reflection of the LOVE of Him who “first loved us.” That emotion that springs from the depths of Hell is HATE . Hate, too, held the scoffers and revilers there at the foot of the cross. It is so today. The Cross of Christ is loved and revered by His followers, but despised and hated by those who are rebellious to the Sovereignty of God. The blood flowed from the Body of Christ like the waters of a wadi following a hard rain in the desert wilderness. The crown of thorns caused a blinding flow of blood down his forehead, His body was lashed to the bone on His back from the beating He experienced from a ‘cat-o-nine tails.’ He was bleeding as well from the nail punctures on His hands and His feet . . . . and He suffered all thusly for you and me. We were the ones who deserved that death, but He conquered death and Hell in His crucifixion and resurrection. He redeemed us by His own blood that we might not suffer the death and humiliation that He experienced.
2 Near the cross, a trembling soul, Love and mercy found me; There the Bright and Morning Star
Shed His beams around me. [Refrain]. Christ suffered in the Wilderness of our Sin for us. It was a time of suffocating darkness, especially in the last four hundred years of silence from the words of the prophet Malachi. Though the last word of the Old Testament in Malchi is ‘CURSE,’ Malachi held out hope for the chosen of God in promising to us that in due time the “Sun of Righteousness would arise with Healing in His Wings.” (Malachi 4:2) Thus the coming of Christ brought beaming light upon a dark world, and the Water of Life to a parched soil. He is the Bright and Morning Star (Revelations 22:1) to lead us in the dark night of this world from sunset to sunrise, but then comes the Sun of Righteousness at last with its healing rays and bright heralding.
3 Near the cross! O lamb of God, Bring its scenes before me; Help me walk from day to day
With its shadow o’er me. [Refrain]. The shadow of the cross fell as an omen across the manger at Bethlehem. The same wood substance into which He was laid as a baby would be the same upon which He would be crucified some thirty-three years hence. He was the Lamb of God symbolized by that first Pascal Lamb in Goshen whose blood forbade the entry of the Angel of Death into the homes of Israel that that were covered by its blood on that dreadful night in Goshen of Egypt. The shadow of the cross hangs above the heads of all who follow Christ for they too must bear their crosses alone. Like Christ, the Christian must die to self and live for others. But Christ is with us always, and right beside when our fears are the most profound.
4 Near the cross! I’ll watch and wait, Hoping, trusting ever; Till I reach the golden strand, Just beyond the river. [Refrain] Jordan Banks are stormy and infirm to the foot. As we approach those outer banks, we may be ill or old and weak, and our footing unsure. As we stand above the swirling waters, we feel our feeble feet falter and sink into the crumbling sands. But we are not focused on the here and now, but the sunny strand beyond the turbulent waters of Jordan. It is that Promised Land to which we are bound. We need not cry out as the ground becomes infirm beneath us for we know who holds the future, and we know who holds our hand. The strong and Almighty Hand of the Lord lifts us up, up, and away from the sinking sands of this world and bears us across the flood to Himself. It is not far. It is an open door. We are just going HOME to see our loved ones who have gone before. We shall cross over just as did the Children of Israel – on dry land.
REFRAIN: In the cross, in the cross Be my glory ever, Till my ransomed soul shall find Rest beyond the river. Every committed Christian glories in the cross of Christ – not the instrument itself, but the sacrifice made upon it for our behalf. The cross of Christ was not a shining, gold structure, but a rough hewn timber. It was ugly and unkempt. It was much like the uncomely goat-hair covering of the Tabernacle, but look at the beauty inside the Tabernacle which was Christ! Christ established His Church and Kingdom to be one of inner beauty and not of elaborate showing to the world. The world does not appreciate true beauty, but those who are IN Christ know of the grandeur of that home. We are ransomed at the high cost of the Father’s sacrifice of His Only Begotten Son. That makes you and I of considerable value in the eyes of God. When He beholds us, He beholds His Son on the cross, and His blood covering us in a mantle of righteousness – not OUR righteousness, but HIS!