Christ is our Redeemer
The Shameful Tree
Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last.
Behold the Savior of mankind nailed to the shameful tree! How vast the love that Him inclined to bleed and die for thee!
‘Tis done! the precious ransom’s paid! “Receive my soul!” He cries; see where He bows His sacred head! He bows His head and dies!
Samuel Wesley (1662-1735)
Saved from the fire
On February 9, 1709, a fire ripped through a rectory in the village of Epworth, England. The Wesley family lost nearly everything. Miraculously, their six-year-old boy named John (who would later found the Methodist church) was saved from the fire, as was a piece of paper bearing this hymn, written by the rector, Samuel Wesley.
Samuel Wesley, father of John and Charles (and seventeen other children), was scholarly and stern. His major academic project was a study of the book of Job. And he faced a great deal of suffering himself. Nine of his children died at birth or in infancy. He was frequently in debt (even spending three months in debtors’ prison). Of course, there was also that devastating fire.
This hymn, however, shows us a slightly different side of Samuel Wesley. The theme of suffering is strong, but there’s an attitude of love, of devotion. Apparently he taught his famous sons more than just discipline, but also a deep appreciation for what Christ accomplished through His suffering.
Our Holy Week readings are adapted from The One Year® Book of Hymns by Mark Norton and Robert Brown, Tyndale House Publishers (1995). Today’s is taken from the entry for March 22.
For more reflection on Holy week, see The Passion, Tyndale’s companion book to Mel Gibson’s powerful movie about the last twelve hours of Jesus’ life.
Content is derived from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation and other publications of Tyndale Publishing House