A Faith That Sings: From Crib To Cross To Crown
Paul. A letter to the Ephesians, the first chapter. All of this book is inspired by God, but somehow as I look at this passage, I sense that God reached down from heaven, touched Paul with a special power and a torrent of words flowed out. This is the Word of God.
“For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know Him better. I pray also the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints and His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of His mighty strength which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the Heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion and every title that can be given not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
“And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way.”
May God bless to us the reading and the hearing of this portion of His holy Word.
Pray with me please. Give me Jesus Lord, give me Jesus. You can have all the rest, just give me Jesus. Amen.
The hymn “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” is rightly considered to be the national anthem of the Christian faith. The fact of the matter is, the words of that hymn have been translated into every language where Christianity is known, and that hymn more than any other, is sung the whole world over. One writer has actually declared, “As long as there are Christians on the earth, that hymn will be sung and after that, in heaven.” It is, in my view at least, the most triumphant and inspiring hymn of them all.
The hymn was written by a man named Edward Perronet in 1779. He was an English pastor who had a powerful evangelical faith. Apparently, he wrote a number of hymns, but none of his other hymns survived, only this one, but thank God it did. It stands as the most elegant and eloquent affirmation of who Jesus Christ is, His power and His majesty. It is a glorious declaration that Jesus Christ is sovereign. Sovereign over persons, over families, over societies, over nations, over the world, and even over the whole universe. The hymn affirms that Jesus Christ rules over all of life, your life, my life, all of life. Christ the King rules. Little wonder that we sing with such vibrant power, “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name. Let angels prostrate fall. Bring forth the royal diadem and crown Him the Lord of all.” So look with me now at Christ the King, from crib to cross to crown.
There is the crib of Christ.
It tells us who Jesus is. Harry Emerson Fosdick once wrote these words, “Always we have heard about the decisive battles in history, but the message of the Bible is that the birth of a baby is infinitely more significant than any battle or any series of battles.” Of course, when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, any realistic mind would have pointed to the power and vastness of the Roman Empire as being the determining element in the world. The birth of a little baby to a lowly mother in a little obscure town on the far fringes of that empire—it would have been sheer madness to suggest that more than 2,000 years later, the whole world would come to a halt as it were in celebration of the birth of that baby. Harry Emerson Fosdick was absolutely right. That is in fact how decisive the birth of that baby was and is.
For the message of the Bible is that that baby’s crib is the point where heaven and earth touch. No longer do we need to look for God up there, out there, away off somewhere. No. The baby’s crib reminds us that God has come to us in human form. He comes to us to meet us right where we are. That means, we cannot evade Him. We cannot avoid Him. He is with us every single moment of every day. He is to be found in our work, in our play, in our families, in our friendships, in our small talk, in our big decisions. He comes to us in the beggar at the back door and the bill collector in the front. He is with us every single moment. He knows us so well that He can call us by name. He has the number of hairs in our heads counted. He laughs with us. He cries with us. He longs to talk to us, and He longs to have us talk to Him. Our sufferings are His sufferings. Our troubles are His troubles. Our burdens are His burdens. He loves us with His very life, and best of all, He has a rendezvous with destiny for us to keep. That’s the message of the crib. It tells us who Jesus is.
And there is the cross of Christ.
That tells us who we are. I remember reading a very haunting story in the newspaper about a woman who was found in a hotel room in Des Moines, Iowa. She was dazed, completely disoriented. All efforts to communicate with her failed, and all efforts to discover her identity failed as well. Finally, under medical hypnosis, she did reveal that her name was Eno On Ma I. Eno On Ma I makes no sense whatever until someone had sense enough to reverse the letters and read the name the other way. She was saying, “My name is, I am no one.” Dear God, I can’t get that woman out of my mind. “I am no one.” It’s being said, wherever we turn these days that we are becoming a nation of strangers. That we are losing our ties and our connections to one another, and that now the most tragic and pervasive illness of our time is actually loneliness. For heaven’s sakes, it makes me wonder if there are people out there, maybe even some people right here who have experienced that profound loneliness and isolation to such an extent that if you scratch them deeply, they might be willing to say like that woman, “I am no one.” I don’t want to forget that woman. I don’t want to forget those other people, and I don’t want you to forget them either. And that’s why I’m trying to tell you that the cross of Jesus Christ is so incredibly important.
You see, it is absolutely necessary for all of us to feel that we are somebody and that we belong to someone. Recognition of any kind is essential for the human spirit. The cross of Jesus Christ tell us that Jesus died for us. Yes. For you, for you, for you and for me. He died for us. We are the persons for whom Christ died. And, therefore, we need never again question our worth or value in the world. No, no, no. We are of such incredible value that God saw fit to allow His only Son to die for us.
We are the persons for whom Christ died. Mark this down. The only thing in life that really matters is the cross of Jesus Christ because the cross of Jesus Christ is the only thing in life that makes us matter. We are the persons for whom Christ died. That’s the message of the cross. It tells us who we are.
And then there is the crown of Christ.
It tells us whose we are. Back during the second world war as the Nazis were moving into the Netherlands, a distinguished Dutch theologian, Dr. Heinrich Kramer, encountered a group of believing Christians who came to him, expressing grave concern that so many of their Jewish neighbors suddenly were disappearing from their homes. And they said to Dr. Kramer, “What should we do?” And Kramer answered, “I cannot tell you what to do. I can tell you whose you are. You are the children of King Jesus, and if you know whose you are and whom you serve, then you will know what to do.” That little band of Christians courageously then—that was all they needed to hear—they proceeded to form the Dutch resistance movement. A movement comprised mainly of Christians who risked their lives every single day to hide and feed and protect their Jewish sisters and brothers. They knew whose they were. They belonged to King Jesus.
Several years ago, I had the great honor of preaching at a series of evangelistic meetings in India. While there, I was privileged to meet Bill Scott, one of our great missionaries to India. Bill Scott has actually translated the Bible into every dialect that exists in India. He has published those Bibles, and he spends his life taking the Bibles out into the countryside where literally millions of people are being exposed to the Word of God and to the reality of Jesus Christ. Bill Scott is just the latest in several generations of his family to serve as missionaries in India. While there, he related to me a remarkable story about his grandfather, E.P. Scott. He was one of the pioneer missionaries to India. On one occasion, he was traveling out in the countryside, taking the gospel to the people there, when suddenly he encountered a murderous tribe, all of them with spears closing in on him. At that moment, on impulse, he actually reached into his luggage and pulled out his violin of all things, and he suddenly began to play and then to sing the words in the dialect of that tribe. He began to sing the words to “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name.” And when he reached the verse where it says let every kindred, every tribe, suddenly, the spears were lowered, and several of the tribesmen had tears in their eyes.
It was in that moment that E.P. Scott made the decision that he would spend the rest of his life working amongst those murderous people. And as they came, more and more to understand whose they were—that they were the children of King Jesus—their lives were changed. They were transformed from savage murderous, bloodthirsty people into loving, virtuous, Christ-filled people. That’s the message of the crown. It tells us whose we are.
One day you and I are going to stand before God’s throne of grace in the kingdom of heaven. There we are going to hear Jesus Christ say, “My bloodshed for you has made you clean. Enter into the joy of your Lord.” And we are then going to step into the glory of heaven, into the midst of that multitude of people. No one can number people of every land and nation of every language and tribe. And in that moment, we are going to know beyond any shadow of a doubt that the kingdoms of this world have become the Kingdom of our God and of His Christ, and Christ shall reign forever and ever. And then in that glorious multitude in heaven, we shall join together in singing the national anthem of the Christian faith, “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name. Let angels prostrate fall. Bring forth the royal diadem and crown Him, Lord of All.”
Soli Deo gloria.
To God alone be the glory.
Amen and amen.