Jesus I Come To Thee

called-out-of-darkness-into-light_std_t_nvWords by William T. Sleeper, pub.1887 Music by: George C. Stebbins

Out of my bondage, sorrow and night,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy freedom, gladness, and light,
Jesus, I come to Thee;
Out of my sickness, into Thy health,
Out of my want and into Thy wealth,
Out of my sin and into Thyself,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of my shameful failure and loss,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into the glorious gain of Thy cross,
Jesus, I come to Thee;
Out of earth’s sorrows, into Thy balm,
Out of life’s storms and into Thy calm,
Out of distress to jubilant psalm,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of unrest and arrogant pride,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy blessed will to abide,
Jesus, I come to Thee;
Out of myself to dwell in Thy love,
Out of despair, into raptures above,
Upward for aye on wings like a dove,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of the fear and dread of the tomb,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into the joy and light of Thy home,
Jesus, I come to Thee;
Out of the depths of ruin untold,
Into the peace of Thy sheltering fold,
Ever Thy glorious face to behold,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

This beautiful hymn was written by William Sleeper in the 1800′s. theoretically, it could be the song of a person at the point of regeneration – repenting, which is why it is one of those hymns unfairly branded as an evangelistic invitation or “alter call” hymn. But this has still been my song at numerous points during my Christian journey. Why is that? If salvation is a reality in my life, why do I find these words passing through my lips even now? Well, if sanctification is, at least partially explained as the process of “getting used to justification,” it makes some sense.

The contrastive imagery of the hymn grips me. One hymnologist Jeff Mowery has summed up the song in one word – Contrasts. In this hymn, my depraved condition is contrasted with Jesus’ sufficiency to meet every depravity in kind. Out of my sickness, into Your health. From my ruin to Your peace. From myself to Thyself or to Thee.

Over and over again, the song reminds the singer of the contrast between what we have in Christ, and what we have if left to our own sin and devices.  The contrast between bondage and freedom, sorrow and gladness, night and light.  The contrast between want and wealth, sickness and health, and fear and joy.

In this hymn you also notice another subtle usage of the words  “My” and “Thy.”  The writer reminds us that so many of the places we find ourselves comes from our own selfish desires – the “me, my, mine” or is it me, myself and I of this life.  But when we are focused on the “Thy – the He, His, and Him” our lives are filled with so many more blessings.

This hymn reminds of where Jesus wants to take us – “out of” certain things and “into” better things – into a life lived of freedom, gladness, light, health, wealth, calm, and love.  But I wonder how often we choose to stay in bondage, sorrow, night, failure, loss, dread and fear.

A few comments about the lyrics:

You’ll notice a pattern in which the conditions listed in the first line of each stanza have a logical connection to one another. Verse one: sorrow, bondage, and night. Verse two: shameful failure and loss. Verse four: fear and dread of the tomb. It’s easy to see how the things in each stanza relate to one another. But, in verse three, the writer juxtaposes unrest and arrogant pride.

And so today I found myself pondering what the connection is between unrest and pride. We have, of course, all experienced unrest in our lives to some degree or another: worry about finances, dissatisfaction in a job, wishing for more (or fewer, lol) children, the longing for a bigger house, a better car, better health . . . different circumstances. These can all be summed up in one thought: “There is something I’m missing.” Isn’t that what unrest is? The feeling that there is something else out there to have, to do, to be . . . a discontentment with what we have or where we are or who we are right now. I think the writer of this hymn got it right. Consider these feelings of discontentment and unrest in light of what what we read in scripture:

  • Return to your rest, O my soul, For the LORD has dealt bountifully with you. Ps 116:7
  • Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.. Matt 11:29
  • Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. Philippians 4:11
  • Behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME;” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION.” 2 Cor. 6:2.
  • Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor. 12:10

Clearly, God desires for us to find contentment and rest in Him. To try doing otherwise is, indeed, a reflection of arrogant pride. Think about it: if God says that He is enough, but I feel like I need something more . . . be it something more tangible or more visible or more immediate (or more obvious or more spiritual, the list could go on) . . am I not purporting to know better what I need than He?

So, yes, out of unrest and arrogant pride is right. Pride that would lead me to think I could possibly comprehend and fathom what would be best for me. I, who know not what tomorrow holds. I who know not the boundaries of the lands and the seas. I who know not the number of hairs on my head. I who know not when this fleeting, mortal life shall cease to be. Arrogant pride, indeed.

This hymn also reminded me of the story of blind Bartimaeus  (Mark 10:46-50). Mark calls him “blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus” (Mark 10:46). There must have been scores of blind men in Jerusalem during those days. The city was rapidly filling up as thousands of Jewish people came from all over the Roman Empire to celebrate the Passover. In the great crowds that lined the streets was this blind man, “Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus.” Mark tell us his name to distinguish him from other early Christians. Mark wanted the Christians at the church in Jerusalem to know exactly who he was. Since the Gospel of Mark was written only about 30 years after this event it is possible that Bartimaeus was still living, and was still an active member of the church at Jerusalem. Even if he had died there would be many in the church that remembered him. We can learn several things from the conversion of blind Bartimaeus.

First, many will try to stop you from coming to Jesus, Mark 10:47, 48;  Luke 13:24; Isaiah 57:21. Bartimaeus sat by the highway begging. Then he heard that Jesus was coming. He cried out, “Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me” (Mark 10:47). Many people in the crowd rebuked him and told him to be quiet. Isn’t that what happens when you want to come to Jesus? People try to stop you. “And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me” (Mark 10:48).

He shouted even more, “Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.” Jesus said, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate” (Luke 13:24). You must not give up struggling to find Christ. You must “strive” to enter in to Christ. The Greek word translated “strive” in Luke 13:24 is “agonizomai.” We get our English word “agony” from it. You must go through agony, and struggle, and fight to enter in, and come to Jesus Himself! For many it is not an easy thing at all. The powers of Hell are against you. Your own sin-blinded heart is against you. You must struggle past your own feelings and thoughts and emotions to get to Jesus. If you give up the struggle you will never find peace with God because, “There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked” (Isaiah 57:21). Those who get saved will say in their hearts, Out of my bondage, sorrow and night,    Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;

Second, notice that some will encourage you to come to Jesus, Mark 10:49; 16:16. In that crowd of people by the roadside, many tried to quiet Bartimaeus, and stop him from coming to Jesus. But there were some who encouraged him. “They call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee” (Mark 10:49).

The world, the flesh and the Devil are against you. But there are good Christians around to pray for you, to encourage you, to speak to you, and urge you to come to Jesus! God wants you to come to Jesus and be saved.

Third, notice that Jesus commanded him to be called, Mark 10:49;  Mark 16:15. “And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee” (Mark 10:49).

That is what Jesus commands all Christians to do. He commands us to call sinners to come to Jesus and be saved. He commands us to preach the Gospel. Jesus tells us, “preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). The word “Gospel” means “good news.” It is good news to hear that Jesus died on the Cross to pay for your sins. It is good news to hear that Jesus’ Blood can cleanse you from all sin. It is good news to hear that Jesus rose physically from the dead and ascended back to the right hand of God the Father to give you life. It is good news to hear that Jesus is praying for you. Yes, and it’s good news to hear that you can come to Jesus in simple faith and be saved from your sin. “Out of my bondage, sorrow and night.”

Fourth, you must come to Jesus Himself, Mark 10:49; Matthew 22:14; Mark 10:50. Notice how quickly and easily this blind man came to the Saviour. “And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus” (Mark 10:50). Think only about your sin, and your need for Jesus to pardon your sin, and cleanse your sin with His Blood. Think only about coming to Jesus. And come to Jesus. “He will save you, He will save you, He will save you now!” Amen.

I hope today that we can acknowledge that God is wanting to lead us into better things.  I hope we also recognize that the journey from the “out of” places to the “into” places may take some time.  God called the Hebrews “out of” Egypt and “into” the Promised Land.  The journey was long in distance, and unfortunately, long in time due to disobedience.  But along that journey, God provided.  God led them with a pillar of fire and smoke.  God performed great miracles, and ultimately, He had a better place for them to dwell.

Like this hymn reminds us, Jesus is calling us “out of” some things and “into” better things.  I hope your response today is like the author’s, and that you come in faith and obedience saying “Jesus, I come.”

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