03102019 Lent 1 Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA

“Jesus I Will Ponder Now”

03102019 Lent 1 Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA

March 10, 2019
“Jesus I Will Ponder Now”
Sermon Audio

If you look closely at our hymnal and read the title of our sermon hymn this morning, “Jesus I Will Ponder Now” and then just above the number, 345, one sees this hymn is in the section of “Holy Week, Three Days”.  This is in reference to the days and week after Palm Sunday, but specifically, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.  These three days have some of the most difficult days of Jesus earthly life. From His betrayal, trial, beating, carrying His Cross to Golgotha, His crucifixion and ultimately His death and burial.  What is clear is this time in Jesus life is meant to be a window into Jesus experience as the sacrifice for us and for all of mankind, in order to offer us salvation. As we continue our Lenten journey in the hymns of Lent, let’s consider these events as we sing the first stanza of “Jesus I Will Ponder Now”!

1 Jesus, I will ponder now on your holy passion; let your Spirit now endow me for meditation.  Grant that I in love and faith may the image cherish of your suff'ring, pain, and death, that I may not perish.

When Sigismund von Birken wrote this hymn in the 1600’s, it was clearly a different time and place in history.  He was less than a century from Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation. Modern conveniences were not phones or tablets.  Time was not wasted in front of televisions nor listening to the radio. The culture as he wrote, did ‘let your Spirit now endow me for meditation’.  The Bohemian people attended church regularly and saw the church as more central to all life.  Gifted as a poet and author, von Birken utilized powerful imagery to connect the people to the events of Jesus Christ life with the simple prayer, ‘Grant that I in love and faith may the image cherish of your suff’ring, pain and death’.  And the prayer was in order that the believer who sang these words had the profound desire, ‘that I may not perish’.  For Jesus throughout His life endured much, including His temptation as we heard in our Gospel this morning, but by His, that is Jesus Christ perishing, He would insure that we would not perish.  Let’s continue with the second and third stanzas of “Jesus I Will Ponder Now”!

2 Make me see your great distress, anguish, and affliction, bonds and blows and wretchedness and your crucifixion; make me see how scourge and rod, spear and nails, did wound you, how you died for those, O God, who with thorns had crowned you.
3 Yet, O Lord, not thus alone make me see your passion, but its cause to me make known and its termination.  For I also and my sin wrought your deep affliction; this the shameful cause has been of your crucifixion.

Jesus in the three days of Holy Week endured more than words can describe or convey to the reader.  If we were to see Jesus face, we would have seen the ‘distress’, ‘anguish, and affliction’.  The ‘wretchedness’ and ‘crucifixion’ not only ‘did wound’ Jesus head, but ‘with thorns had crowned’ Him by His ‘crucifixion’ with one goal in mind, salvation for mankind.  Jesus willingness as we sang to take on ‘my sin’ and endure ‘deep affliction’ was for we His children to receive the forgiveness that only He was willing to endure the pain, the ‘blows and wretchedness’, because He loves us.  This is why this hymn needs to be sung so that we can listen to the words, contemplate their meaning and see the willingness of Jesus sacrifice for us and all of mankind.  Let’s conclude this morning with the last stanza of “Jesus I Will Ponder Now”.

4 Let me view your pain and loss with repentant grieving, nor prepare again your cross by unholy living.  May I give you love for love! Hear me, O my Savior, that I may in heav’n above sing your praise forever.

Our final stanza reminds us of the continuous circle and cycle of confession we make of our sinfulness and falling short of what is expected of us, but God out of His love for us, declares unto us in a clear declaration of free grace the forgiveness of our sins in spite of our ‘unholy living’.  Our daily plea does not fall on deaf ears and even Saul, a known Christian killer, experienced and ultimately understood the power of God.  Saul was converted and joined and became a Christian and asked for forgiveness from God in order that he could as our song requests, ‘May I give you love for love!’  And in so doing Paul placed absolute trust in what God offers him and us in the forgiveness we receive in the love God.

Thus our final prayer can be, ‘Hear me, O my Savior, that I may in heav’n above sing your praise forever’.  Our final plea is not a knee jerk reaction, but the work of the Holy Spirit upon us.  God clearly and lovingly reaches down into each of our lives and though we struggle does offer us the greatest gift of grace, love and peace and the ultimate fulfillment by taking us to heaven for eternity, where we can ‘sing your praise forever’.  And in singing and believing this hymn, we can look to Jesus temptation and our daily temptation to sin and rely upon God’s grace and forgiveness.  By doing this, we then not only demonstrate that we will ‘ponder’ Jesus life and His death, God will because of His love for us fulfill our entrance into heaven, because of the sacrifice of His Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ.  So we then daily can give ‘love for love’ to and for others and sing loudly with new found understanding our Lenten hymn of “Jesus, I Will Ponder Now”.  AMEN.