04102019 Wed of Lent 5 Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA

“Ah, Holy Jesus”

04102019 Wed of Lent 5 Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA

April 10, 2019
“Ah, Holy Jesus”
Sermon Audio

Tonight as we gather for our last Wednesday night Lenten Worship Service our hymn looks to the events of Holy Week.  Let’s begin by singing the first two stanzas of “Ah, Holy Jesus”.

1 Ah, holy Jesus, how hast thou offended that we to judge thee have in hate pretended?  By foes derided, by thine own rejected, O most afflicted.

2 Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon thee?  Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone thee. 'Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied thee; I crucified thee.

Found in all the hymnals used here at Emmanuel since moving from Export, “Ah, Holy Jesus” was authored by Johann Heermann.  His mother made a pact with God when Johann was sick early in childhood that if he survived he would be trained as a Pastor.  True to her word, he studied for the ministry, but in a interesting twist of faith, it was his health and experience during the Thirty Year Wars that formed and shaped his ability to pen compelling hymns like “Ah, Holy Jesus” we sing this evening.

‘O most afflicted’ clearly describes our ‘holy Jesus’ and begs the question, ‘how hast thou offended’ since Jesus was sinless.  Yet, the reality is Jesus though sinless, is judged and by some even hated due to jealousy and even fear for what He can do.  Though ‘rejected’ and ‘derided’, Jesus declares forgiveness to and for us and all of mankind out of His love for us and freely takes upon Himself the ‘hate’ of others so we His followers can be freed from that which binds and afflicts us so we can forgive others as He has forgiven us.

In the second stanza a shift occurs, Johann clearly lays claim to the truth that ‘my treason’ our ‘treason’ has been wiped away better than any paper towel made.  Our hymn lays claim to our sin with clear confession, ‘Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied thee’ just as Peter had three times.  The confession of what we have done in our lives is clear, ‘I crucified thee’ ‘Lord Jesus’, I have ‘brought this upon thee’.  Ultimately, all who claim they are Christians are, ‘the guilty’.  Yet, our guilt is washed away by our Savior, because Jesus not only knows our sin, but He died for our sin.  Let’s see how Jesus our ‘Good Shepherd’ offers us salvation as we sing stanzas three and four. of “Ah, Holy Jesus”!

3 Lo, the Good Shepherd for the sheep is offered; the slave hath sinned, and the Son hath suffered; for our atonement, while we nothing heeded, God interceded.

4 For me, kind Jesus, was thy incarnation, thy mortal sorrow, and thy life's oblation; thy death of anguish and thy bitter passion, for my salvation.

When Johann Crüger composed the tune we use, it was based on the works of Bach and other great composers specifically because of our third and fourth stanzas.  Notice the beginning, ‘Lo, the Good Shepherd for the sheep is offered’, Jesus is our Good Shepherd and the text and tune respond to the first two stanzas of condemnation with the declaration of grace for us and for all of mankind.  Though ‘the slave hath sinned’, Jesus ‘the Son hath suffered; for our atonement’ and made payment for us.  For ‘while we nothing heeded’ without the coming and clear action that ‘God interceded’, but for who was this done?

The fourth stanza answers, it was for you and ‘For me’ and for all mankind.  We remember it was ‘kind Jesus, was thy incarnation, thy mortal sorrow, and thy life’s oblation’ that was the gift of grace and salvation given to us out of His love for us.  For a specific purpose, ‘thy death of anguish and thy bitter passion’ was ‘for my salvation’ and the salvation of all who gather to hear the Good News that Holy Scripture reveals to us today.  This is why coming to church is so important, it is the declaration of the grace of God for us and for all of mankind that we hear, heed and help others to be grafted into the family of God and receive the gift of eternal life by our ‘salvation’.

The final stanza, like the best desert of a cherry on top of an ice cream sundae reminds us, ‘Therefore, kind Jesus, since I cannot pay thee’ our bank account earning our salvation is empty.  Yet, Jesus, because the gift of grace is free for us and for all of mankind our account of our sins is wiped out by Him at no cost to us.  We then can respond daily as we ‘think on thy pity and thy love unswerving’ for His path was the Cross of Calvary to give us eternal life.  Though His gift was ‘not my deserving’, Jesus freely gives it to us, because His heart, His love, His grace and especially His mercy is offered unto us freely.  Let’s lay claim what our ‘Good Shepherd’ offers us and all of mankind by singing of this gift of grace with the final stanza of “Ah, Holy Jesus”!

5 Therefore, kind Jesus, since I cannot pay thee, I do adore thee, and will ever pray thee; think on thy pity and thy love unswerving, not my deserving.

AMEN.