04192019 Good Friday Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA

“O Sacred Head, Now Wounded”

04192019 Good Friday Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA

April 19, 2019
“O Sacred Head, Now Wounded”
Sermon Audio

We gather tonight on this Good Friday in the bleakness of the sanctuary missing many of the altar furnishings.  Last night we celebrated the institution of the Lord’s Supper and the stripping of the altar. Tonight the hymn we contemplate “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” reminds us of our Savior, that we ‘call thee mine’.  Let’s join in singing the first three stanzas of “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded”.

1 O sacred head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down, now scornfully surrounded with thorns, thine only crown; O sacred head, what glory, what bliss till now was thine!  Yet, though despised and gory, I joy to call thee mine.

2 How pale thou art with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn; how does thy face now languish, which once was bright as morn! Thy grief and bitter passion were all for sinners' gain; mine, mine was the transgression, but thine the deadly pain.

3 What language shall I borrow to thank thee, dearest friend, for this thy dying sorrow, thy pity without end?  Oh, make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be, Lord, let me never, never outlive my love for thee.

Bernard of Clairvaux is attributed as one of the likely authors of this Good Friday hymn.  It is clear, ‘with grief and shame weighed down, now scornfully surrounded with thorns, thine only crown’ that this hymn succinctly articulates the imagery Jesus Passion on Good Friday.  For ‘though despised and gory’ our Savior, Jesus Christ, through this enables us to find ‘joy to call thee mine’.  Because Jesus suffered with ‘O sacred head, now wounded’ as the sacrifice for us and all mankind and He claims us, because He loves us and wants us to be with Him in His kingdom for all eternity.  Hence why ‘I joy to call thee mine.’

In the second stanza, though Jesus ‘pale thou art with anguish’ and ‘sore abuse and scorn’, our Lord endured this for each and every one of us.  ‘Thy grief and bitter passion were all for sinners’ gain’ in order that we may be offered forgiveness and salvation by ‘thine the deadly pain’.  Notice, we confess it was ‘mine, mine was the transgression’ that held Jesus to the Cross.  The ‘deadly pain’ He endured was so we whose ‘transgression’ cause Him to hang, gather this evening as the sun ducks behind the distant horizon to recognize and realize this is His gracious gift to and for us and all of mankind.  Jesus willingness to die was because His ‘Sacred head, Now wounded’ was the only way we would have eternal life.  We receive in our contemplation of this hymn tonight from Him the gift of grace foretold in sacred story of what our Savior was willing to endure for us and all of mankind.  

Notice how in the third stanza the question is posed, ‘What language shall I borrow to thank thee, dearest friend, for this thy dying sorrow, thy pity without end?’  Yes, our language is inadequate ‘to thank thee’ Jesus for Your death for us in ‘thy dying sorrow, thy pity without end’.  But our prayer can be, ‘Oh, make me Thine forever’ so our response to His perfect love is making our ‘love for thee’ perfect through Him.

For when God perfects our love as imperfect as it is because of our humanity, God then gives us graciously in our final stanza fulfillment for  us and for all of mankind the gift of eternal life. Our ‘Lord, be my consolation; shield me when I must die’ looks to our final breath here on earth in order that Jesus Cross that He hung to on Calvary can be held up for us as our final vision.  So Jesus Cross can ‘remind me of thy passion when my last hour draws nigh’ and we will not look with fear, but faith to our Savior in the promise Jesus makes us from the Cross of Calvary.  So we with ‘These eyes, new faith receiving, from thee shall never move’ from the embrace of God’s Holy Hands.  And tonight we can take solace and comfort with all of mankind in the salvation we are offered by Him.  This is where, ‘for all who die believing die safely in thy love.’  As the fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation found in the good news for us and all of mankind.

Let’s make this our truth and confession of God’s grace from the Cross of Calvary on this Good Friday as we sing the final stanza as Bach arranged our tune for the hymn “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded”!

4 Lord, be my consolation; shield me when I must die; remind me of thy passion when my last hour draws nigh.  These eyes, new faith receiving, from thee shall never move; for all who die believing die safely in thy love.

AMEN!