That Johnny Cash would end up being included in The Jukebox Hero Hymnal was pretty much inevitable. The only question was, which of his songs would be first. Well, our pal, Mr. Will Cubbedge, has settled that debate by requesting the addition of “The Man Comes Around.”
Like many of us, Cash didn’t start out as a model Christian. He spent most of the 50s and 60s drunk and addicted to drugs, and most of the 70s and 80s trying to clean up. But even during his dark times, the “man in black” seemed to have an instinctive grasp on The Corporal Works of Mercy, things like feeding the hungry, tending the sick and, most notably, visiting the imprisoned. In fact, according to Cash, his wardrobe was actually a statement on behalf of the poor, the hungry and "the prisoner who has long paid for his crime."
But while Cash’s charitable actions may have reflected The Corporal Works of Mercy, the lyrics of his religious themed albums often leaned more towards The Spiritual Works of Mercy, stuff like instructing the ignorant, counseling the doubtful and, more often than not, admonishing the sinner.
Oh yeah, admonishing the sinner. That’s becoming something of a lost art in these non-judgmental days, isn’t it? Not for Johnny Cash, though. Maybe it was all that time he spent around convicts, but Cash never forgot that our actions have consequences and you always have to answer to someone.
“Next I saw a large white throne and the one who was sitting on it. The earth and the sky fled from his presence and there was no place for them. I saw the dead, the great and the lowly, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. Then another scroll was opened, the book of life. The dead were judged according to their deeds, by what was written in the scrolls. The sea gave up its dead; then Death and Hades gave up their dead. All the dead were judged according to their deeds. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the pool of fire. (This pool of fire is the second death.) Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the pool of fire.” (Revelation 20:11-15, NABRE)