Since George Beverly Shea’s rendition of it during the Billy Graham crusades in the 1950’s and 60’s, How Great Thou Art, has become a favourite hymn all around the world. It expresses awesome wonder at the greatness of God revealed in nature and in Jesus Christ. It speaks of God’s glory as God’s revealed greatness.
John 12:20-33 indicates that the true greatness or glory of Jesus is revealed in his preparedness to die knowing that only by dying can he be raised to resurrection life, thus opening up the kingdom of heaven to all believers. The kingdom of heaven is that eternal realm where people do the will of God, not because it is imposed upon them like a law, but where people live the way God meant them to live out of their own volition (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
While we are in love with our own selves, preoccupied with our own wants and desires, we cannot live the life of God’s eternal realm (John 12:25). It is only as we too are prepared to die to that sort of self that we can truly live. Resurrection to the eternal life of God’s pure realm is not only something that happened to Jesus after his crucifixion, it is the experience in this life of those whom God raises to new life in the power of the Holy Spirit.
- What, do you think, has made How Great Thou Art, such a popular hymn?
- What difference does it make to our faith if we see God’s glory revealed most strongly in the Cross rather than in power and majesty?
- What does it mean for us to be raised with Christ by the grace of God received in faith (Ephesians 2:4-6)?
- Have you experienced resurrection to a new life of faith, hope and love in your life? Was the conversion swift or gradual?