Christ is our Redeemer
O Sacred Head, Now Wounded
He was despised and rejected — a man of
sorrows, acquainted with the bitterest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the
other way when he went by.
Isaiah 53:3 NLT
O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and
shame weighed down, now scornfully
surrounded with thorns Thine only crown; how
pale Thou art with anguish, with sore abuse
and scorn! How does that visage languish
which once was bright as morn!
What language shall I borrow to thank Thee,
dearest Friend, for this Thy dying sorrow, Thy
pity without end? O make me Thine forever;
and should I fainting be, Lord, let me never,
never outlive my love to Thee.
O Sacred Head, Now Wounded
attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153)
A profoundly personal and awesome vision
Although Bernard was one of the most
influential Christians of the Middle Ages,
settling disputes between kings and influencing
the selection of popes, he remained a devout
monk, single-minded in his devotion to Christ.
In his own day Bernard was known as a
preacher and churchman; today he is
remembered for his hymns of praise. "O Sacred
Head, Now Wounded" comes from a poem
originally having seven sections, each focusing
on a wounded part of the crucified Savior's body —
His feet, knees, hands, side, breast, heart, and
head. The text of this hymn compels us to gaze
at the cross until the depth of God's love overwhelms
us. Bernard's hymn pictures God's love, not as an
abstract theological statement, but as a profoundly
personal and awesome vision of the suffering Christ.
Our Holy Week readings are adapted from The One
Year® Book of Hymns by Mark Norton and Robert
Brown, Tyndale House Publishers (1995).
Read Mark 15:35-36
"Some of the bystanders hearing it said,
'Behold, He is calling Elijah.'" (Mark 15:35)
In the darkness the crowd hears Jesus cry out,
"My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"
They hear the Aramaic word "Eloi" and think He
is calling Elijah. They are thinking of a prophecy
from Malachi in the Old Testament, "Behold, I
will send you Elijah the prophet before the great
and awesome day of the LORD comes." The
bystanders wonder if Jesus is calling out for the
great prophet Elijah to come and rescue Him
from the cross.
Are the bystanders mocking Him again or might
they have another reason for pointing this out? If
it is just mockery then they think it's pretty funny
that Jesus is getting desperate for God to do
something to rescue Him.
But on the other hand, who knows what effect
these hours of unnatural darkness have had on
them? Luke tells us that after Jesus died, many
of these bystanders went home beating their
breast- a sign of sorrow and regret over what they
have done. (Luke 23: 4. Whether it was mockery
or genuine curiosity one of them ran up and gave
Him wine vinegar. Then they stood back to see
what might happen.
But Jesus wasn't calling Elijah- He was calling
out to His Father. But this time Jesus could not
call Him "Abba" or "Father", God had forsaken
Him because of our sins. But even though the
Father had turned His back against His own Son,
Jesus held on to His God, calling out, "My God".
Because God turned His back on His own Son,
we can be confident He will never turn His back
on us who trust in Jesus as our Savior.
Lord Jesus, thank You for being willing to lay
down your life for me. Amen
(Lutheran Hour Ministries Lenten Devotional).
JESUS' LAST LOUD CRY
Read Mark 15:37
"And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed
His last." (Mark 15:37)
Mark doesn't tell us Jesus' final words, only
that He uttered a loud cry and breathed His
last. Matthew does the same. If we want to
learn Jesus' last words we must turn to
Luke (23:46). But why does Mark choose to
leave out these final words of Jesus?
To all appearances Jesus had been a fake
and a fraud. After all, how could the Son of
God be arrested, beaten, flogged and nailed
to a cross? What King of Israel would allow
Himself to be mocked, insulted and spat
upon? Mark wants us to see that beneath
the blood, the sweat and the tears Jesus truly
is God's Son, the promised Savior and King
of the Jews. So He points out the unusual
circumstances surrounding Jesus' death-
circumstances which reveal the divine
majesty of the man wearing the crown of
Mark began with the intense three hour long
darkness, and now presents Jesus' final loud
cry immediately before His death. What was
so unusual about this? Criminals who died of
crucifixion did not have the breath to cry out
in a loud voice- especially in the moment right
before their death. Yet Jesus cries out loudly-
and then dies.
In John's Gospel Jesus had told His disciples,
"For this reason the Father loves Me, because
I lay down My life that I may take it up again.
No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My
own accord." (John 10:17). He laid it down for
you. And in three days He will take it up again-
Lord God our heavenly Father, thank You for
revealing Your Son's divinity- even while He was
holding back His divine power to save us from
our sins. Amen.
(Lutheran Hour Ministries Lenten Devotional)
A SIGN FOR THE CHIEF PRIESTS
Read Mark 15:38
"And the curtain of the temple was torn in
two, from top to bottom." (Mark 15:3
Very unusual things took place at Jesus'
death- the darkness, the loud cry right before
His death- and the temple curtain tearing in two.
God designed the place of worship for Israel.
The temple consisted of two spaces- one room
called the Holy Place where priests entered daily
to minister before the Lord, and another room
called the Most Holy Place or the Holy of Holies.
Here sat the Ark Moses built to symbolize God's
presence among His people. This Most Holy
Place was separated from the Holy Place by a
thick curtain. No one could pass beyond that
curtain into the Most Holy Place except the high
priest- and he could only enter one day out of the
year. This curtain symbolized the separation from
God which our sin has caused.
When Jesus died that curtain was torn in two from
top to bottom. This was God's sign to Jesus' greatest
enemies- the chief priests. On the cross they thought
they were right and had protected God's reputation.
Now one of their own priests standing in the temple
sees that great thick curtain tear in two. God was
telling the priests they had crucified their Messiah
and His Son. But they too had access to God now-
through faith in Jesus Christ.
The torn curtain shows that our sin no longer
separates us from our God. Jesus Christ has torn
that barrier apart and washed us in His blood by faith.
That means we are free to come before God without
fear or doubt.
Lord Jesus, thank You for tearing down the barrier of
sin that separated us from Your heavenly Father. Keep
us always in this faith. Amen.
(Lutheran Hour Ministries Lenten Devotional)
Matthew 27: 28-56
They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then
twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They
put a staff in his right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt in front
of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said.
30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the
head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took
off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him
away to crucify him.
The Crucifixion of Jesus
32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named
Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33 They came to
a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”).
34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but
after tasting it, he refused to drink it. 35 When they had crucified
him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36 And sitting
down, they kept watch over him there. 37 Above his head they
placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE
KING OF THE JEWS.
38 Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one
on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking
their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the
temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from
the cross, if you are the Son of God!”
41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and
the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he
can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now
from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let
God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of
God.’” 44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him
also heaped insults on him.
The Death of Jesus
45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all
the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud
voice, “Eli, Eli,[c] lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my
God, why have you forsaken me?”).[d]
47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said,
“He’s calling Elijah.”
48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with
wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink.
49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes
to save him.”
50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave
up his spirit.
51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from
top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs
broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were
raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection
and[e] went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus
saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified,
and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”