Devotion 147 – Saturday of the Third Week of Lent

Opening Verse: Isa 50:6

“I did not hide My face from shame and spitting”

Text: Matthew 27:27-30

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole garrison around Him. And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” Then they spat on Him, and took the reed and struck Him on the head.

Devotion

The whole garrison gathered around Jesus. The Holy One is in the midst of the ungodly, the Lamb among wolves, so that I may enjoy eternal fellowship with all the faithful. His body is stripped naked so that He may give me the robe of righteousness and adorn me with heavenly beauty. He let Himself be decked out like a king to be mocked and afflicted: with a purple robe that sticks to His sores and is soaked with His blood, with a crown of thorns, with which the earth was cursed (Gen 3:18), and much pain, — note well, this is the royal crown! — with a reed in His hand as a scepter, and thus He is hailed as Israel’s King. My God, what good is this? This He suffers because I who should rule over all creation (Gen 1:26) became the slave of my own lusts and made God’s blessing on the earth into a curse. This He suffers to save me from the devil’s dominion and to give me the crown of glory.

They spit on Him. They spit God’s Son in the face, and this the Father saw and tolerated. They take the reed, His royal scepter, and hit Him on the head, and meanwhile the power of God’s providence sustained them! He who from eternity possesses the kingdom and the power humbles Himself so and lets Himself be so mistreated and so mocked that He may hold His royal scepter with the gentleness of grace over us poor sinners, for our eternal salvation. Christ be greatly praised. Our shame is taken away, and glory is given to us!
But, dear friend, if you, who by Jesus’ grace have a heart which longs for God’s Church, must live among the ungodly yet a little while, then remember the Lord in the judgment hall. You must bear with the wicked without becoming wicked, and rejoice in the thought that you will soon be home in the Father’s house where there are only saints. When the world tries to strip you naked and expose your weaknesses, then think of Jesus in the judgment hall. Wrap yourself in His righteousness, and adorn your life with His heavenly deeds. And when the thorns of troubles prick you, or you suffer poverty, loss, or need because of your faith, when your head is struck, your face spit upon, your name tarnished, then remember Jesus in the judgment hall and consider that to be like Him is an honor of which you are not worthy. You deserve nothing but punishment, but for the sake of Christ’s crown of thorns you shall soon receive a full reward for your work and be adorned with the imperishable crown of glory.

Closing Prayer

Lord Jesus, we thank You, we thank and praise You for everything! Praise to You for Your humiliation and suffering! Praise to You for Your glory and salvation! Help us to believe in You and to praise You eternally. Amen.

Hymn

Crown of thorns which ever stings Thee
By my sins was formed around!
My transgressions’ wretched fingers
Twisted this most awful crown!
Round Thee harshly I did bind
With my evil stubborn mind,
Innocence from Thee now draining,
Many streams of blood Thee staining.

With repentance now I tell Thee
How I scorned Thee by my hand.
Help me once again to quell me
And my sin fore’er to ban.
I am but a broken reed;
Hear me, Jesus, in my need.
When I strike Thee without measure,
Cleanse me by Thy gracious pleasure.

Kingo: Vil dog Himlen intet tale L 326:6.8 tr. DeGarmeaux;
tune: Freu dich sehr (ELH 256);
alternate hymn: Christ, the Life of all the living ELH 333