MUST JESUS BEAR THE CROSS ALONE?

Wayne S. Walker

“If any man come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross,
and follow Me” (Matt. 16.24).

     INTRO.:  A hymn which encourages us to take up the cross and follow
Jesus is “Must Jesus Bear The Cross Alone?” (#286 in “Hymns for Worship
Revised”).  The text is usually attributed to Thomas Shepherd
(1665-1739).  A minister in the Church of England who left to become
minister of the independent Castle Hill Meeting House in Nottingham, he
published several poems in 1693 under the title, “Penitential Cries.”
The first stanza is an alteration of one of those poems which originally
began, “Shall Simon bear the Cross alone, And other Saints be free?  Each
Saint of thine shall find his own, And there is one for me.”

     The second stanza and others (in searching through old hymnbooks, I
have found at least three more) seem to date from a missionary hymn
collection published at Norwich, England, around 1810.  The third stanza
appears to have been penned by the composer of the tune (Maitland or
Cross and Crown), George Nelson Allen (1812-1877).  A native of Manfield,
MA, he graduated from Oberlin College in Oberlin, OH, and remained to
teach music there.  In 1844, he compiled “The Oberlin Social And Sabbath
Hymn Book,” which included this song.  It was also he who apparently
altered Shepherd’s original stanza to its present form.

     This is a widely-known song of consecration.

I. From stanza 1 we learn that there is a cross for everyone to bear
 A. It appears that at first Jesus bore His cross alone: Jn. 19.15-17
 B. However, for some reason (some think that it was because Jesus was
just too weak to bear its weight), a man named Simon was compelled to
bear it: Matt. 27.32, Mk. 15.21, Lk. 23.26
 C. Just as Jesus bore the cross and went to Calvary for us, He teaches
that we must bear our cross of responsibility to Him: Lk. 9.23

II. From stanza 2 we learn that we must follow Christ’s example in
bearing the cross
 A. Bearing the cross implies the idea of being crucified to the world:
Gal. 6.14
 B. ANd this we must do till death shall set us free: Gal. 6.14
 C. Also, this is the only way that we can have the hope of gaining the
crown of reward that Christ promises the faithful: Jas. 1.12, Rev. 2.10

III. From stanza 3, we learn that the ultimate reward for bearing our
cross is that crown of eternal life
 A. At death, the angels bear away the souls of God’s faithful: Lk. 16.22
 B. From then on, the souls of the righteous await the resurrection day:
1 Thes. 4.14-17
 C. And when that time comes, we shall exchange the cross for a glorious
crown, even as the apostle Paul hoped: 2 Tim. 4.6-8

     CONCL.:  The scriptural qualifications for being a true disciple of
Jesus Christ are quite clear.  They include denying ourselves, taking up
the cross, and following Him.  This cross represents whatever
responsibilities and hardships that we must face in this life as we
strive to live for the Lord.  This hymn challenges us to make our
commitment to take up the cross.  Since Jesus endured His cross for us,
each one of should ask himself, “Must Jesus Bear The Cross Alone?”

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