ASK YE WHAT GREAT THING I KNOW
Johann C. Schwedler, 1672–1730
Translated by Benjamin H. Kennedy, 1804–1889
For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2)
A question that many struggle with today is “What is the real purpose of living?” Or, “What is the ultimate reality or joy in life?” The testimony of the author of the book of Ecclesiastes would no doubt echo the frustrations of many in contemporary society—“All is vanity, empty and meaningless.”
The author of this hymn text, Johann Schwedler, a prominent German minister and hymn writer of his era, discovered quite a different answer for his life—“Jesus Christ, the Crucified”—the consoler, reviver, healer, and final rewarder. For the apostle Paul, all of life also revolved around a personal relationship with Jesus Christ—“For me to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21).
C. S. Lewis has written: “Either Jesus Christ was what He claimed or He was a liar and we should repudiate Him. Or if He was not what He claimed to be and not a liar, He was a madman, and we should treat Him as such. Or He was what He claimed to be and we should fall at His feet and worship Him.”
With doubting Thomas, the apostle Paul, and devout followers of Christ through the centuries, may our purpose in life be expressed in a devoted, daily relationship with our Lord. May we speak out with clarity and conviction: “My Lord and God—my highest joy!”
Ask ye what great thing I know that delights and stirs me so? What the high reward I win? Whose the name I glory in? Jesus Christ, the Crucified.
Who defeats my fiercest foes? Who consoles my saddest woes? Who revives my fainting heart, healing all its hidden smart? Jesus Christ, the Crucified.
Who is life in life to me? Who the death of death will be? Who will place me on His right, with the countless hosts of light? Jesus Christ, the Crucified.
This is that great thing I know—This delights and stirs me so: Faith in Him who died to save, Him who triumphed o’er the grave, Jesus Christ, the Crucified.
For Today: Acts 2:36; Romans 5:1; Galatians 2:20; 6:14; Philippians 3:13, 14; 1 Peter 3:15
Be prepared to speak out if someone should ask about your real purpose in life. Carry this hymn as a help—