There is a certain arrogance in the Christian that needs to ‘know everything.’ After all he quotes to himself John 17:3 “…and this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” However, this song is encouraging in striking the balance between knowing enough to be sound in the faith, and yet still coming woefully short in comprehending the unsearchable vastness of the heart of God. The writer (though uninspired) is teaching us, that ‘knowing’ and still ‘not being able to tell’ are real tensions while living in this finite world. “But this I know” is the contrasted phrase in each stanza. How blessed to have these anchors of truth such as:
1. Christ is born a man to human parents in actual time, and lived many years in an actual place (Nazareth). (stanza 1)
2. That after 33 years, he suffered, died and rose again, becoming the Savior of the world. (stanza 2)
3. That he will be seen with joy in the fulness of His Glory one day, and the world will proclaim him in worship. (stanza 3) Phil 2:10
And yet, there’s so much we just can’t fathom such as:
1. Why he actually set his love on sinful men?
2. How he was able to suffer ‘silently?’ Without complaint, defensiveness, or anger.
3. What the depths of his heartbreak were like is his last hours? (stanza 3)
4. Exactly how he will win the nations? (stanza 4) We cannot tell how he will ultimately work this out.
By William Fullerton (1929) – was converted by means of Charles Spurgeon’s preaching
I cannot tell why He whom angels worship,
Should set His love upon the sons of men,
Or why, as Shepherd, He should seek the wanderers,
To bring them back, they know not how or when.
But this I know, that He was born of Mary
When Bethlehem’s manger was His only home,
And that He lived at Nazareth and labored,
And so the Savior, Savior of the world is come.
I cannot tell how silently He suffered,
As with His peace He graced this place of tears,
Or how His heart upon the cross was broken,
The crown of pain to three and thirty years.
But this I know, He heals the brokenhearted,
And stays our sin, and calms our lurking fear,
And lifts the burden from the heavy laden,
For yet the Savior, Savior of the world is here.
I cannot tell how He will win the nations,
How He will claim His earthly heritage,
How satisfy the needs and aspirations
Of East and West, of sinner and of sage.
But this I know, all flesh shall see His glory,
And He shall reap the harvest He has sown,
And some glad day His sun shall shine in splendor
When He the Savior, Savior of the world is known.
I cannot tell how all the lands shall worship,
When, at His bidding, every storm is stilled,
Or who can say how great the jubilation
When all the hearts of men with love are filled.
But this I know, the skies will thrill with rapture,
And myriad, myriad human voices sing,
And earth to Heaven, and Heaven to earth, will answer:
At last the Savior, Savior of the world is King