O Lamb of God, I Come--Just as I Am
Passion History 1
Text: 1 John 1:7
…the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
In Christ Jesus, the Lamb of God, dear fellow redeemed:
If the gospel of Jesus Christ is the “life-blood” of the Christian, and if the Holy Scriptures contained in the Bible are the arteries that bring that “life-blood” to us, then our Christian hymns are the veins flowing out from the arteries! The singing of hymns in praise to our God has played a prominent role in worship since Old Testament times. Those hymns have been a primary means by which true Biblical teaching is taught and retained within the minds of Christian worshippers. The words of hymns frequently rhyme and so are oftentimes more easily memorized than even the Scriptures themselves. Consequently, hymns with strong Biblical messages are important and so to be highly valued by the church.This year in our midweek Lenten meditations we are going to examine a series of familiar and famous Christian hymns.
The hymn upon which we will focus our attention today is “Just as I Am.” This hymn is an English hymn. It was written by Charlotte Elliot in 1835. Charlotte’s brother was a clergyman in England, and Charlotte lived with her brother. She wrote the hymn in an effort to help him raise funds to help pay for the education of the daughters of fellow clergymen. It became very popular, very quickly in England and also in America where it is found in the hymnbooks of many different denominations. It is based upon the words of Jesus found in John 6:37, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.”
Our text this evening lays the basis for the message of Charlotte’s first two stanzas. We are by nature sinners (cf. Rom. 3:23). There is no way that we can fix our sin-problem on our own. The Bible states so very clearly: “By the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20), and sin must be punished by a just God. Truly, as we approach God, and ultimately we must approach Him for we are responsible to Him as individuals created by Him and subject to Him, we come just as we are—poor, damned sinners were it not for the grace of God.
But to whom do we come? In the words of the hymn, we come to the Lamb of God—that Lamb, identified at one point by John the Baptizer, as the One “who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29). On this Ash Wednesday we begin once again our review and consideration of Jesus’ passion when He shed His blood for you and for me.
Let us not wait to come to Jesus! We are all familiar with His invitations. Hundreds of years before Jesus came into this world the LORD cried out to His Old Testament people: “Come now, and let us reason together…. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white a snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Is. 1:18). When Jesus came, He too cried out to us, His New Testament people: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Mt. 11:28-30). Jesus’ “yoke” and “burden” are His mercy and forgiving love. The “dark blots” of our sins, which are impossible for us to remove, are cleansed by the blood of Christ. Jesus’ blood, the Bible says, “is the propitiation (the satisfactory payment) for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (1 Jn. 2:2). That blood can, does, and has “cleansed each spot!” Therefore, let us hear and respond to the One who “bidd’st us come,” and say: O LAMB OF GOD—I COME…JUST AS I AM! [Let us sing the next two stanzas of our hymn.]
Satan certainly wants to prevent us from coming to Jesus. He will seek to use our sins to embarrass us, to cause us to be uncertain of the reception we might receive were we to come and to think that Jesus would certainly no longer want you or me to come. Conflicts between believers, self-doubt and self-condemnation, the frailty of our human flesh, and the power of addictions often fill our hearts and minds with doubts and fear, but we absolutely need that which only Jesus can offer!
I know of a man…in fact I count him a dear friend and brother. If ever there were a man that I would describe as a “man after God’s own heart,” as the Bible describes King David, it was and by the grace of God now is once again this man. Several years ago he guided a business colleague out of an addiction to pornography, sadly only to become ensnared himself. His addiction to pornography led to conflict and dissatisfaction within his marriage, to an adulterous relationship with a much younger woman, to the neglect, disintegration, and ultimately bankruptcy of his business, and finally to the brink of despair and divorce. This man, who had always appeared so strong physically, mentally, and spiritually found himself “poor, wretched, and blind.” When I contacted him at the request of his daughter and wife, he broke down over the phone, confessed his sins, but initially could not seem to get over the fact that he was so very unworthy of the grace of God and the good graces of his wife. If ever there was a man that I have witnessed being “tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt,” it was he! I reminded him that the very meaning of grace is “undeserved” love! I reminded him that David, who is described in Scripture as a man after God’s own heart, was not so designated because he never sinned. After all, he too had committed adultery, but had also added the sin of murder, yet he humbled himself before God and repented of those sins, seeking God’s forgiveness and restorative power (cf. Ps. 32 and Ps. 51). I urged him to recognize that Satan was attempting to destroy not just his life and livelihood here at this time and in this world, but that his goal was to destroy his chance for life and joy throughout eternity. I urged him to turn to Jesus, to confess his sins, to rejoice in Jesus’ forgiving love as revealed in His shed blood. There he would see a “sight” and find “riches, healing of the mind.” I talked to that man once again last night. You could hear the joy in his voice and renewed confidence—a confidence not in self, but in Jesus. Yes, this man found all he needed in Jesus. He told me, “I am sharing the gospel with everyone I meet!” Then we talked about one of his relatives—a man who has had no time for God or the gospel in the past, but who now is facing severe challenges, and who is finally searching and seems willing to talk.
We all face doubts, fightings, and fears within and without. The precious blood of Jesus, as a Lamb without blemish or spot, gives us what we need to heal our minds. Let us say: O LAMB OF GOD—I COME…JUST AS I AM![Let us sing the next two stanzas of our hymn.]
In the Parable of the Lost Sons Jesus reveals the love of His heavenly Father for repentant sinners who come home. You will recall that the younger son had his plea memorized and rehearsed. As he arrived home and as his father approached him he blurted out: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son” (Lk. 15:21). His father, however, ignored his sons words, recognizing the sorrow in his heart and said, “Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found” (Lk. 15:22-24).
When we are led by the Spirit of God humbly to confess our sins before our Savior, He promises to “welcome, pardon, cleanse, and relieve us.” The apostle John records those precious words: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9). Let us believe that promise! Let us come with complete humility and without any hesitation! Will our Heavenly Father reject a repentant son or daughter? No, for such a rejection would go against His very nature and everything that He has promised in Scripture! His unsurpassed love revealed through the sacrifice of His own Son and proclaimed in the Bible “has broken every barrier down” for us! Let us come to our Savior God! Let us embrace Him by faith, rejoice in His truths with all our hearts, and entrust ourselves to Him entirely! Yes, may we be His, yes, His alone! May we ever say, even as we rejoice to sing: O LAMB OF GOD—I COME…JUST AS I AM! Amen.