Devotion 153 – Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Opening Prayer

Lord, make it calm in our ears, and make it clear to our eyes. Amen.

Texts: Matthew 27:33–34, John 19:18, Mark 15:28

And when they had come to a place called Golgotha, that is to say, Place of a Skull, they gave Him sour wine mingled with gall to drink. But when He had tasted it, He would not drink. … There they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center. … So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with the transgressors.”

Devotion

The Lord did not want to taste anything that would numb His senses. He wanted to taste death for us with all its bitterness. And now the hour has come, now the Paschal Lamb will be slain, now the Son of Man shall be lifted up (Joh 3:14), now all the prophecies of His atoning suffering shall be fulfilled. Now He shall become a curse for us, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” (Deu 21:23; Gal 3:13). Highly praised Son of God, my soul’s unspeakably precious Savior, I see You led up to the place of execution for criminals between two other criminals. You, who knew no sin, are made to be sin for me. But You are the same, Love and Righteousness itself, and Your heavenly purity gleams undiminished in the crucible of suffering wrath. I see You, while You let them take Your holy body and again strip off its clothing, lay it down and stretch it on the cross, and drive nails through Your hands and feet. They are fastened to the cross with spikes, these hands which were lifted to heaven only in blessing and intercession and which touched the earth only to do good. I see them raise the cross and I see You, my Jesus, the Father’s Only-begotten, the Glory of all of heaven, hanging there, a curse for us cursed sinners.

Closing Prayer

Do You love us so much, eternal, blessed God? Do You deem us worth so much that You will be made a criminal and die the death of the cross at the place of the skull [Golgotha] for our sake? For us wretched and wicked ones, for me and all sinners who in ourselves are only poison and gall and are mingled with those who crucified You and walked around the cross and made fun? Then take my soul in exchange. Take my heart, and fill it with Your love. Take every feeling of life, every drop of blood, every heartbeat. O take me totally and completely, and let me forever belong to You, forever serve You, and live for You, for You alone! Let everything in me that displeases You be crucified, so that I live no longer to myself, but live for You, who loved me and gave Yourself for me! Yes, precious Lord Jesus,
I pray You sincerely, grant me such grace, have mercy on me, even on me, a poor sinner, Lord Jesus! You let Yourself be crucified for me, and I am Yours, dearly bought with a price. Let me never, never let go of Your cross and the nails that pierced Your hands and feet. Amen.

Hymn

High upon the cross they lift Him,
Pressing hard, they make Him moan,
And with cruelty they outstretch Him,
Arms fatigued down to the bone;
Nail Him to the cursed tree,
Thus to break His spirit free,
Wickedly they leave Him hanging,
Thus His suff’ring more prolonging.

Ev’ryone who passes by Him,
Stand ye still and mark it well
Come yet closer, now to eye Him,
In the whole world, can you tell:
Was there ever such a Man
Under God’s most wrathful ban,
Filled with pain and condemnation,
Satan’s darts and sin’s oblation?

My soul’s Light and Consolation,
Thou art cursed for my misdeed.
Wash my shame in lamentation;
Thy dark suffering hath me freed.
For my Lord’s forsakenness
Frees me from death’s cruel press;
Hell’s eternal death I merit,
But for me my Lord did bear it.

Kingo: Bryder frem i hule Sukke L 329:5-7 tr. DeGarmeaux;
tune: Freu dich sehr (ELH 256);
alternate hymn: When I survey the wondrous cross ELH 308:1-2