Saturday, April 4, 2015


Shepherd of Tender Youth is one of the Church's earliest known hymns. It was written around 200 A.D. by Clement of Alexandria. The lyrics provide clear evidence as to who the early Church thought Jesus to be: God. The first stanza makes this clear:

1 Shepherd of tender youth,
Guiding in love and truth
Through devious ways;
Christ, our triumphant king,
We come Your name to sing
And here our children bring
To join Your praise.

Only God is the proper object of worship. "You shall have no other gods before me" the first commandment warns. Clement declared that Christ was lifted up as king, his very name praised in worship by old and young alike. If Christ was the object of worship and praise by his earliest followers, what does this say concerning the identity they ascribed to Christ? The second stanza provides more evidence:

2 You are our holy Lord,
The all-subduing Word,
Healer of strife.
Yourself You did abase
That from sin's deep disgrace
You so might save our race
And give us life.  

Christ is declared to be Lord. Psalm 34:8 urges us to "...taste and see that Jehovah is good." Peter applies this verse to Jesus Christ: "...rid yourself of all malice and deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babes, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good." If anyone has any doubts as to who Peter is speaking of, the next verses remove any doubts from readers' minds: "As you come to him--rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him--you also, like living stones are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (1Pet. 2: 1-5). Who was the one rejected by men but chosen by God? Who else but Jesus Christ. Peter identifies Jesus as Lord and applies Psalm 34:8's mention of Jehovah to Christ, thereby signifying that Jesus is God. We see that in the second stanza, Jesus is worshiped as Lord. So, if anyone tries to convince you that the early Church never worshiped Jesus as divine, or that Christ himself never claimed divinity, listen to the hymnody of the early Church. Worship Jesus as God the Son as those saints who have gone on before us now do before the throne of God. Worship the God who became a man (Yourself You did abase), who took the punishment for our sins (That from sin's deep disgrace) so that we may be redeemed from sin and death (You so might save our race) and be indwelt by God the Holy Spirit (And give us life).

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