Christ's Focus on the Cross: Was it ME?
How often do we sing songs in church without giving much thought to what we're saying, i.e., what we're proclaiming about the Lord, or to the Lord?! I know that I've been guilty of this - turing off my brain and just singing along with the others.
Well, recentlly my interest has been picqued with regard to the widely popular song, Above All, sung by many including Michael W. Smith and Darlene Zschech with Hillsong. If I may, let's give this song some thought.
(Words and Music by Lenny LeBlanc, Paul Baloche)
Above all powers above all kings
Above all nature and all created things
Above all wisdom and all the ways of man
You were here before the world began
Above all kingdoms above all thrones
Above all wonders the world has ever known
Above all wealth and treasures of the earth
There's no way to measure what You're worth
Crucified laid behind a stone
You lived to die rejected and alone
Like a rose trampled on the ground
You took the fall and thought of me
Consider the theology of this song, specifically, the last line that says, "You took the fall and thought of me above all." Consider the "flip" in attention and focus from the Lord and His majesty (that He's above all, He is measureless) and how then, at the end of the song, we flip the attention, the focus, from Christ to man - to ME.
Wasn't it in Hebrews 12:2 where it says that it was “for the joy that was set before Him (that Christ) endured the cross, despising the shame.” It was His Father’s glory that was chief in His affections at all times.
What did Jesus himself say? John 12:27-28 tells us, "Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” Once again, Christ's focus was the Father, and the Father's glory - the glory of His name!
In fact, would not His thinking of "[us] above all" (including above Himself and His glory) be a form of idolotry (e.g. focusing attention on the creation rather than the creator)? I think this would be in line with Jonathan Edwards' thoughts that God, at the risk of idolatry, must always be uppermost in God's mind.
Consider Isaac Watts’ famous hymn: “When I survey the wondrous cross On which the Prince of glory died, My richest gain I count but loss, And pour contempt on all my pride. Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, Save in the death of Christ my God!"
Quite a different focus, eh? Look at the antithesis - the focus of God's thinking about ME, above all; versus the focus of pouring contempt on my pride (the same pride that sings that it must have been ME about which He, above all, was thinking!)
So, He thought of me above His Father's glory? I think not.
But, I want to see what you think. Can anyone give me a chapter and verse that would Biblically support this line? Where in the Scripture does it say that in His crucifiction the Lord "thought of me above all?"
This wonderful, humble and Biblical assessment from Bob Kauflin at Worship Matters:
"There are a number of things about this song I really like. The melody is enjoyable to sing and easy to remember. It does a great job emphasizing God's sovereign rule over all, and focusing on the sacrifice of Christ. The poetic images are engaging and the harmonic progression is creative. But two parts bother me, both near the end of the song. The first is the line "you took the fall." It seems like an understated way of describing what Jesus did. Not wrong, but not the best. The other problem is the line, "and thought of me above all." I have no question that Jesus loved me and gave himself for me (Gal. 2:20). But he didn't think of me "above all." Jesus went to the cross to satisfy God's righteous judgment against a sinful humanity. He thought of his Father's holiness, justice, and glory above all. It may seem like a theological nuance, but it's the difference between our faith being man-centered and God-centered. I don't think that's what the writers intended, but I think it could cause some confusion in people's minds. Besides, I think we have other songs that better articulate Jesus died for because he loved us and for his Father's glory."