“Jesus keep me near cross” may feel like emotional affect or fear, to be specific, but the words of this famous song of an extremely powerful attitude to possess. What else is there in the world of spiritual security to which we desire to be near? Obedience, loyalty, ace performances, ruthless judgment? Since the cross is the symbol of love, and knowing that love is the greatest virtue, we realize that there are options offered to us, namely, other virtues. This is where the analogy of two mountains from the book of Hebrews becomes helpful to me. The comparison between Golgotha where Christ died and Sinai where God gave the Ten Commandments confirms that there is no competition.
“For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind,” (Hebrews 12:18, NASB)
“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels,” (Hebrews 12:22, NASB)
The thing that typically eludes most readers and observers is the fact that by resorting to Sinai in search of morality, people completely ignore Calvary or Golgotha as the source of divine love, which we all have to admit is (a) God’s display of his righteousness and (b) his declaration of the highest virtue possible. Are we willing therefore to deny that God’s love, a divine dimension of love, is actually deposited in the heart of the convert? This gift of love is not merely motivation, this gift of love is empowerment. So while the cross lends itself to two mountain theology and to a scene of a criminal act by a government against an innocent man and the anguish of loved ones, near the cross means something grander than a symbol. “Near the cross” elicits something so appealing as to silence us with awe that we should be so endowed. Maybe we can say reverential fear brings us to say “Jesus keep me near the Cross” but it is more likely that it is the attractiveness of such a love that rivets us to the Lamb of God.
“See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are.1 John 3:1a