Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken

Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken

Henry Lyte understood (rightly) the believer to be a pilgrim in this world—not belonging to the world or the things in it. He also understood that, while we are in the world, we have a mission, a purpose, and a chief end. But, one day, that mission will come to an end. One day, the sufferings and persecutions we endure will cease. One day, our hope will change to glad fruition. For the Suffering Servant, our Savior, will return and make all things new.

If there’s one hymn I’d like sung at my funeral, this is it. When you get a diagnosis of cancer or you are persecuted because of your biblical worldview of marriage, how do you find joy and comfort in God? How does God use the sufferings and persecutions you experience to sanctify you and draw you closer to Him? That’s the subject of the 19th-century hymn, “Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken,” by Henry Francis Lyte (1793–1847).

Often sung to the tune, ELLESDIE (by Mozart)—or more recently to the Indelible Grace version by Bill Moore (meter 8787)—the hymn is presented in six stanzas, each capturing various facets of the Christian’s endurance and joy amidst suffering. The hymn moves from the general statement of Jesus’ calling to take up our cross and follow Him, through differing aspects of that affliction in this life, to a final portrait of our heavenly glory, where “hope shall change to glad fruition; faith to sight, and prayer to praise.”

Matthew 16:24 provides the biblical backdrop of the hymn: “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me’” (cf. Matt. 10:38). A disciple of Jesus must deny himself—his will, his sin, his selfish ambitions—and then take up his cross to follow Jesus. Taking up one’s cross is recognizing the difficult (and often painful) consequences and implications of following Christ. This is the cost of discipleship: ridicule, slander, imprisonment, fines, torture, and even death. “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matt. 7:14).

But we should expect the way to be difficult. Indeed, this is what Jesus taught: “[B]ecause you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you…. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you” (John 15:19, 20). The reason why Christians are hated today is because Christ was hated, and they belong to Him. As the hymn states: “Let the world despise and leave me; they have left my Savior too.”

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