“In Christ Alone…” These three words are a fragment, implying that we need to finish the sentence. In Christ alone ______________.
This hymn fills in that blank by answering the question of “where do we place our hope?” The world suggests we place our hope in having lots of money. Or, if that doesn’t work, the government will take care of us. But ultimately, everyone will let us down, so we have to be prepared to pull ourselves up by our own boot straps, and look out for Number One, says the world. We can’t count on someone else to save us after all, but we can save ourselves. “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” Well… we know that that’s not true. We are broken and powerless, in need of a Savior, and we place our hope in Christ, and in no one else.
The hymn also answers the question of “what is the basis for that hope?” If Christ alone is the source of our hope, what is it that makes that hope secure? And so, we sing about the work of Christ on the cross. The death that He died on our behalf accomplished what only He could accomplish. The wrath of God, which we justly faced because of our sin, was satisfied by Jesus. No one else could secure our freedom. Only His blood could purchase our redemption. Only His resurrection could conquer the effects of sin and death, and grant us the same victory. We place our hope in Christ, because only He can save us. The things that we need can be found in Him alone.
Here is my favorite line in the hymn: “From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny.” This sums it up: “Jesus commands my destiny.” For starters, what this says to me is that I don’t control my own destiny. I may want to sometimes. I may try to. But my destiny is not up to me. It would be futile to put my hope in myself, because I don’t have the power to determine my future. I don’t have the power to determine my eternal worth. My destiny is controlled by Christ alone.
Furthermore, not only does Jesus hold the reins to my destiny, but He really is in command. My destiny is not a wild, out-of-control horse that Jesus is trying to rein in. My destiny is not up in the air. My destiny is certain, because the one who controls my destiny has all the power in heaven and earth, forever and ever. Jesus commands my destiny. What more could I want? What more could I hope for?