Near the Cross

September 03, 2015

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.—Galatians 2:20

There is a well-known song written by Fanny Crosby that goes as follows:

Jesus, keep me near the cross,
There a precious fountain;
Free to all, a healing stream,
Flows from Calv’ry’s mountain.

Most people will relate the cross with Christianity, and rightly so, because the cross is at the center of Christianity. But, unfortunately, because of the distance of time between us and the actual event of the crucifixion of Christ, we have dulled the meaning of what the cross really stands. We think of the cross as something clean and beautiful to display and admire. But the original church knew that the cross stood for death—the death of a criminal. It was a very bloody and grotesque icon. That is why Paul said that preaching about the cross was to some an obstacle to some accepting Christianity and to others it was outright foolishness to focus on such an instrument of death (1 Cor. 1:23). If the cross is associated with death, why would we want to be near to it?

Because our old, carnal nature is sinful and in opposition to God. Jesus died on the cross to give us the option to let our carnal nature die with Him. Once the old life is dead, He comes into us and gives us His life. My ambitions, plans, and desires may have died on the cross, but with the life of Christ in me, I have His ambitions, plans, and desires along with His righteousness, love, peace, and many other godly characteristics.

All that we are is because of what Christ did on the cross. That is why Paul said that the only thing that would get glory in his life would be the cross (Gal. 6:14). As Fanny Crosby put it in the chorus of the aforementioned song:

In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever,
Till my ransomed soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.

Jesus said that if we want to follow Him, then we must also take up our cross every day (Luke 9:23). Sometimes this is used to say that we need to take up the will of God for our lives, but it is really a call for us to die to our carnal selves each day—a call to stay near the cross.

This is not the easiest sounding way. An easy way would be to come to the cross once and have Jesus take away our carnal nature forever. But we will always be in a physical body while we are on this earth and we will always face temptations of the flesh. The old nature will struggle to regain life. Whenever I feel the inclination to have it my way or do what I want, I need to allow Jesus to continue to have His will and way in my life, instead.

Some people get near to the foot of the cross, but we shouldn’t stop there. Let our carnal man be found nailed to the cross as we find the new life of Christ.

Matthew Derocher

Written by Matthew James Derocher who writes about biblical subjects and teaches in a Bible college in Tanzania, Africa. You can follow him on Twitter