My Jesus Doth Abide

He answers in his hymn that the world is nothing, with all its vaunted pleasure. That’s faith in the Lord Jesus singing out.

After studying at the Universities of Jena and Leipzig, Lutheran pastor Georg Michael Pfefferkorn (1645-1732) was a teacher in the Altenburg city school. He was appointed by Duke Ernst the Pious of Gotha as tutor of his three sons. Duke Friedrich I then appointed him pastor of Friemar, near Gotha, and in 1682 made him a member of the consistory and superintendent at Gräfen-Tonna, also near Gotha. He served a long pastorate and enjoyed a long life, dying at the age of eighty-six.

1 What is the world to me
With all its vaunted pleasure
When Thou, and Thou alone,
Lord Jesus, art my Treasure!
Thou only, dearest Lord,
My soul’s Delight shalt be;
Thou art my Peace, my Rest—
What is the world to me!

Pastor Pfefferkorn asks a question in the original German: „Was frag’ ich nach der Welt?” (Literally, “What do I ask of the world?”). Now imagine this man, a pastor and teacher in the circle of his local German nobility of the ornate, baroque seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, trusted by them to teach royal princes, appointed by them to positions of authority in the Church, daring to ask such a question!

He answers in his hymn that the world is nothing, with all its vaunted pleasure. That’s faith in the Lord Jesus singing out. Considering the entire hymn, as The Lutheran Hymnal does, Pfefferkorn is teaching us to say “so long, farewell, good bye” to this world! The world is like a vapor fleeting. But at the end, My Jesus doth abide.

2 The world is like a cloud
And like a vapor fleeting,
A shadow that declines,
Swift to its end retreating.
My Jesus doth abide,
Tho’ all things fade and flee;
My everlasting Rock—
What is the world to me!

3 The world seeks to be praised
And honored by the mighty,
Yet never once reflects
That they are frail and flighty.
But what I truly prize
Above all things is He,
My Jesus, He alone—
What is the world to me!

4 The world seeks after wealth
And all that Mammon offers,
Yet never is content
Tho’ gold should fill its coffers.
I have a higher good,
Content with it I’ll be:
My Jesus is my Wealth—
What is the world to me!

These dukes and their castles and power and riches: nothing. Vanity. The hymnist’s soul’s delight, his peace and rest, is in someone else! You and you alone, Lord Jesus, are my treasure! (stanza one) I have a higher good! My Jesus is my wealth!

5 The world is sorely grieved
Whenever it is slighted
Or when its hollow fame
And honor have been blighted.
Christ, Thy reproach I bear
Long as it pleaseth Thee;
I’m honored by my Lord—
What is the world to me!

How does political discourse go these days? The world is sorely grieved whenever it is slighted or when its hollow fame and honor have been blighted. Do we Christians believe we are honored by my Lord to say, “Christ, Thy reproach I bear” if we are called to confess the truth of God’s Word, even if it makes one uncomfortable?

6 The world with wanton pride
Exalts its sinful pleasures
And for them foolishly
Gives up the heavenly treasures.
Let others love the world
With all its vanity;
I love the Lord, my God—
What is the world to me!

The world with wanton pride exalts its sinful pleasures. Pornography, alcohol, and drug addictions run rampant today. The world doubles down on extolling the most vile and disgusting of sins that sadden God. The Christian loves the Lord, my God  we sing, by living within the holy Ten Commandments – let others love the world.

7 The world abideth not;
Lo, like a flash ‘twill vanish;
With all its gorgeous pomp
Pale death it cannot banish;
Its riches pass away,
And all its joys must flee;
But Jesus doth abide—
What is the world to me!

Concerning the world’s gorgeous pomp, the hymn sings what every Christian knows: like a flash ‘twill vanish. “…in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet…” (1 Cor. 15.52a) Its riches pass away, and all its joys must flee; But Jesus doth abide – What is the world to me! 

The apostle John wrote, “Do not love the world or the things in the world… And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

8 What is the world to me!
My Jesus is my Treasure,
My Life, my Health, my Wealth,
My Friend, my Love, my Pleasure,
My Joy, my Crown, my All,
My Bliss eternally.
Once more, then, I declare:
What is the world to me!

Jesus is your treasure, life, health, wealth, friend, love, pleasure, joy, crown, and your bliss eternally. He abides though all else fades away. He has redeemed you and honored you by baptizing you into His Kingdom. The crown of eternal life which Jesus secured for you through His suffering, death, and resurrection on your behalf awaits you when He brings about the new world to come.

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Jacob Sutton

Rev. Jacob Sutton is Pastor of Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church in Terre Haute, IN.

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