Sunday, August 31, 2014 am                Songs Index

Sacred Selections, #297


Tonight we want to discuss another song as we have been doing the 5th Sunday nights now for a number of years. This is a song that we sometimes sing preparing our minds for the Lord’s Supper.  It is appropriate for that occasion.  But it is also a good song to remind us of our responsibilities as children of God. 

It was first published in 1837.  It was written by John Reynell Wreford (1800-1881) of Barnstaple, England.  It was put to music by Mrs. Phoebe Palmer Knapp (1838-1908) who also put to music the hymn, “Blessed assurance.”

This song is designed to remind us, when times are tough and when our zeal begins to weaken a little, of what Jesus endured for us.  As to its makeup, an interesting observation is how vs. 1 &2 are joined together as well as vs. 3&4.  Then vs. 5 is a conclusion to persevere.  This evening, we will examine the message of this song.


I.              Vs, 1-2 – When my love for Christ grows weak – I go to the Garden

a.     When my love to Christ grows weak – love is a fundamental quality of our salvation.  We are continually reminded that God so loved the world (John 3:16) and that He demonstrated His love by sending His Son to die for us (Rom. 5:8-9).
Furthermore, Jesus loved us – which was demonstrated by His coming to this earth and dying on the cross (John 15:13, Phil. 2:5-8,
By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16, NKJV)
ALSO, we are reminded of the importance of loving God.  1 John 4:19 says we love Him because He first loved us. 
But loving and serving God can weaken.  Revelation 2:4 describes the church at Ephesus as having left its first love. 
Jesus warned in Matthew 24:12 that because of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold.  While clearly dealing with that time, Jesus emphasizes the possibility of this happening.
We know it does.  From time to time, serving God and our Lord becomes monotonous and we just don’t have the fervor we ought to have. Sometimes we become discouraged and frustrated.  These are very real circumstances, probably faced by most, if not all, of us.  Such prompted Paul to say, “Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Gal. 6:9)

b.    When for deeper faith I seek – along with flickering embers, we often examine ourselves and find that our faith (trust, believing God) is not as strong as it ought to be.   As life hammers away and as Satan does his job trying to beat us down, we might question ourselves.  When we fail – whether it be some sin in our life, or our inability to convict the soul of another – we can become discouraged and we desire stronger faith.  What do we do?
WHILE this song is not all inclusive, it does turn our focus in a direction we need to consider.

c.     Then in thought I go to thee, Garden of Gethsemane – after instituting the Lord’s Supper and giving His farewell admonition to His apostles (John 17, Matt. 26:23-35, etc.) Jesus went with His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane. 
While with His apostles, Jesus told them they would betray Him, including Peter.  In the garden man things happened. 

d.    Vs. 2 - There I walk amid the shades while the lingering twilight fades  (not literally, but in my mind, I picture Jesus)

e.     See that suffering, friendless One, Weeping, praying there alone.

f.     – in the Garden, Jesus prayed to the Father, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”” (Matthew 26:38)
Then He prayed 3 times, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me, nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”    He was described as sorrowful and deeply distressed (Matt. 26:37); Mark tells us that after His first prayer He went a little farther and fell on the ground (Mark 14:35)  Luke 22:44 says, “And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

g.    LET US CONSIDER why so much agony?  Jesus was about to suffer a barbaric death.  One in which His friends would betray and abandon Him.  Betrayed by one of the twelve, denied by one of His closest, and then blasphemed by His heritage.  This would lead to a most torturous death.  This is what Jesus went through for us!!!  This was His LOVE!  GREATER love has no one than this than to lay down one’s life for His friends.
Let us be reminded of His agony in the garden when we think about giving up or let down our guard and loyalty to Him! 
Does what He ask of us compare to what He DID for us? “What shall I render to the Lord For all His benefits toward me?” (Psalm 116:12, NKJV)   How can we repay Him?  The answer is that we cannot!  Luke 17:10 tells us when we have done all that we are commanded we still say, “We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.”   BUT, we can give Him our best!  We can seek Him first (Matt. 6:33).  And returning to the Garden and the cross can renew this perspective.

II.            Vs. 3-4 – When my love for man grows weak – I go to the cross

a.     When my love for man grows weak – When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment is, He answered, 1) Love God with all your heart, soul and mind & 2) Love your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:37-39) Vs. 1 & 2 of this song deal with loving God.  Vs. 3 & 4 deals with loving our neighbors.
Love for man – we have to care about others!  That is what loving our neighbor is about.
-  it is demonstrated in concern for souls.   The souls of our neighbors and friends ought to be on our minds – 2 Cor. 5:10-11, Acts 17:16 – Paul’s spirit was provoked; 2 Peter 2:8 –in Sodom, Lot’s righteous soul was vexed.
- it is demonstrated in the way I treat my brethren.  WE are told to love one another (John 14:34-35, Romans 12:10, 1 Peter 1:22 (fervently). 
If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.” (1 John 4:20–21, NKJV)
BUT from time to time, this love can grow weak and be overcome with selfishness and indifference.  WHEN that happens, I need to turn to the cross and be reminded of what Jesus did for me and MY sins! 

b.    When for stronger faith I seek – just as we need deeper faith, we need stronger faith also. 

c.     Hill of Calvary I go – the word Calvary is found only in Luke 23:33 in the KJV and NKJV.  The actual Greek word is κρανίον (kranion) and means the skull, which is how it is translated in the ASV, NASU, etc.  But we know the word has reference to the place where Jesus died.  Matthew 27:33 calls the place “Golgotha” which means, “place of the skull.”  Calvary is the Late Latin word that means “skull” (“Golgotha” is the Aramaic word).
For our purposes, Calvary is where Jesus was cruelly executed.

d.    To thy scenes of fear and woe - before Jewish and Roman leaders, Jesus maintained His composure.  Being falsely accused, He did not resist.  He was slapped and mocked, He was beaten at the command of Pilate which was a form of severe punishment within itself, often designed to prepare the body for death.  After being condemned by Pilate, who some 7 times declared Jesus not worthy of this death, turned Him over to soldiers put a robe on Him, and a crown of thorns, and a reed in His hand, and mockingly bowed before Him, ‘Hail, King of the Jews.’  And all this was BEFORE they led Him away to be crucified.

e.     There behold His agony, suffered on the bitter tree – Luke 23:33 simply says, “there they crucified Him”.  Brief words with so much impact.  Crucifixion was barbaric form of execution where nails were driven through the hands (wrists) into a cross bar.   Then the body would be hoisted upon a stake impaled in the ground (or dropped into a hole) and the feet (ankle area) would be secured with more nails.  But that was only the beginning of the torture.  If one had not been abused prior (as Jesus was) it could be a very long process.  In time, because the body was stretched out, there would be a lack of oxygen in the blood which would cause severe cramping and difficulty breathing.  To relieve the pain of cramps in the outstretched arms, one would lift up with his feet, only to have the pain of those wounds shoot through His legs.  In time, the blood would thicken and breathing would become more difficult.  Finally one would either pass out and his body would relax or he would just die.  Eventually he might gain consciousness, but only for the torture to resume. There are other factors, as wounds would begin to become infected, possibly insects and birds would come and have their way.   In time the body would die.

f.     See His anguish, see His faith – picture what Jesus endured for us.  Heb. 5:8 says He learned obedience by the things He suffered.
ON the cross, Jesus demonstrated great faith- it is seen in His sayings.
Luke 23:34 as He was being crucified He prayed, “Father, forgive them…”
To the thief He said, “Assuredly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Lk. 23:43)
As He was about to die, He said, “It is finished” (john 19:30) and “Father, into your hands I commit My Spirit.” (Luke 23:46)
We think of so many things Jesus endured on the cross.  Let us NOT forget His faith!  What an example when we face trials and troubles.

g.    Love triumphant still in death – ultimately, His sacrifices was motivated by His love for us.  We know that His death was NOT the end.  It was the beginning.  And 3 days later, when He arose, we find triumph.  Revelation 1:5 tells us Jesus “loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood.”
Ephesians 5:2,
And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

h.     LET US CONSIDER why Jesus suffered on the cross. 
Paul said Christ came to save sinners of whom I am chief (1 Tim. 2:15). 
He died for our sins!
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Jesus died on that cross because He cares about MY soul.  He died for all mankind - “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” (2 Corinthians 5:14–15)
Jesus died on that cross because He LOVES ME and treated me the way we should act, not the way I deserve.  He set an example for us:1 Peter 2:21-24.
As we sing this song, let us be reminded of what exactly Jesus did for us.

III.           Vs. 5 – Then to life I turn again – with resolve.

a.     Then to life I turn again – while we reflect upon the suffering of our Lord, let us not get so overwhelmed with it that we think of nothing else.   The purpose of this song is to REMIND us of what Jesus did, so that we will use these humbling thoughts to move ahead with love for both God and man.   We need to move forward

b.    Learning all the worth of pain – chances are we will not out-suffer our Lord.  We will probably not come close to the anguish He endured for us.   But having said that, life is tough!  It is filled with temptations, disappointment, pain, discouragement, struggle, uncertainty, and failures.  That these things happen do NOT determine who we are.  HOW we deal with them does!  Pain and trials can either defeat us or make us better. 
Isn’t that what James said? (Jas. 1:3-4)
Romans 5:3–5, “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

c.        Learning all the might that lies, In a full, self-sacrifice – Luke 9:23-26 tells us that to follow Him we must deny ourselves.  Romans 12:1-2 calls for us to present ourselves as living sacrifices  - transformed by the renewing of our minds.
One thing that I have learned over the years as a child of God is that we have to surrender ourselves to Him if there is to be any hope!  Trying to serve God and mammon WILL NOT WORK! (Matt. 6:24)  Godly attitudes only come when we are godly, which means we are serving God.

And thus we have another song that we sing from time to time.  It is certainly appropriate as we prepare our minds for the Lord’s Supper.  But it is also appropriate at other times, when we struggle with this life to get out of spiritually alive.  May we strive to seek first the Kingdom of God, just like Jesus did. Think about it.