Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross
Fanny Crosby wrote an amazing number of hymns that we still sing in church more that a century after her death. Many, like this one, are framed in the form of a prayer, and this hymn contains a petition that we would do well to make of God for the benefit of our own souls, both for our time on this earth and lasting into eternity.
There is a tendency in humans to lapse into a been-there-done-that or what-have-you-done-for-me-lately attitude. We quickly forget what others have done for us and fail to notice the sacrifices they have made for us in the past. How quickly we forget to be grateful for the assistance of others and the provision of the Lord, and this is true of our gift of salvation as much as for any other blessing we overlook or forget.
What would be optimal in our spiritual growth is not a cooling of our gratitude for the benefits of the cross of Christ in our lives, but a deepening of both our understanding and our appreciation of this unfathomable gift. When we were first saved, what we comprehended about the salvation we received was generally a very simple grasp of our need and God’s forgiveness. But over time and through study of the Scripture, the teaching of the Spirit, and experience of the Lord’s presence, the richness and broadness of the work of Christ on the cross should become known to us in much broader terms. We should begin to see the mind-blowing reality of how the holy God took our foul sin upon Himself, that the Son would leave the glories of Heaven and come humbly to the earth to willingly suffer and die in our place, and that the Father would give His Only Begotten and deeply beloved Son. Over time we should experience to a greater depth the heights and depths and lengths and breadths of the love of God, and realize how lost and hopeless we would have been apart from His grace. As we draw ever nearer to the fire of God’s holiness, we should be seeing in greater contrast His purity and our sin, and be sensing with increasing pain in our spirits the presence of lingering sin in our hearts, and with greater intensity the gratitude for the long-suffering mercy that God has given us as He works out our sanctification.
These realities only grow in us when we allow—when we seek for—the Lord to keep us near the cross, and to learn the many precious lessons that flow from it. There are lessons there of grace, mercy, love, hope, healing, and encouragement. Keeping near the cross inspires us to follow our Savior in His example, taking up our own crosses to willingly give our lives to Him, as He did for us. It reminds us that God has not called us to lives of flowery ease in this world, that crosses are to be embraced not scorned, but also that there is joy promised for us beyond the cross.
Staying near the cross is our answer to the fiery darts that the enemy throws at us, trying to dishearten and derail us on our pilgrim journey in this world. When we are discouraged by our failures of faith or the wobbles in our walk, we can answer the accusations of the adversary or of our own doubting hearts with the truth that what was done by Jesus for us on the cross has accomplished all that is necessary for our salvation—now and forever. He put a period on our sentence when He said, “It is finished.” Even when the accuser of the brethren brings charges against in heaven for our continued transgressions, Jesus advocates for us before the throne, saying, “This one is mine. I bought him or her at the cross. It is finished.” Staying near the cross, living in its shadow, is our cover from the deception that the enemy would throw at us to impede our growth in experiencing the freedom, hope, joy, and power the cross of Christ has wrought in our lives.
And, even though we can joyfully look forward to that “rest beyond the river”—that promised joy on the other side—it is also true that Heaven never gets over the cross. Throughout Revelation we see that Jesus is known and worshiped as “the Lamb who was slain.” He is worshiped because He gave His life on that cross to bring many sons to glory. When we gather around that throne we will understand with unveiled minds just how much we own Him, just how much was done for us on that cross. Our hearts will burst with gratitude and praise, with wonder and worship. Therefore, let us never get over the cross here on earth, either. Let us pray that Jesus would, indeed, keep us near the cross and all those precious truths and promises which flow from it, for it is such a precious fountain.