Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

Lent Devotional - March 27, 2023

Hymn: “Jesus, I Will Ponder Now” (LSB #440, v. 1)
Jesus, I will ponder now
On Your holy passion;
With Your Spirit me endow
For such meditation.
Grant that I in love and faith
May the image cherish
Of Your suff’ring, pain, and death
That I may not perish.
               This hymn, like most hymns, is a prayer. All prayer is a meditation on the Word of God. Now, meditation is not a sitting down with the legs crossed and humming the sound the universe or getting connected with the flow of the universe or some nonsense like that. All prayer and meditation are upon the words and actions of Jesus Christ. To do that is not within our power. Mediation is much more than focusing hard on thoughts and images. Meditation is being granted the ability by God to be worthy to focus and ponder on the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

               This hymn reminds us moderns of a practice that we have now forgotten. Throughout the history of the Church, the goal of Christians during Holy Week was what they called the meditation of the Passion of Christ. This was seen to be the greatest act of spiritual worship that could be done. It was the ability to meditate upon the work of Jesus Christ, and this was especially done on Good Friday. Our hymn today is an exercise in this attempt to meditate upon the Passion of Jesus Christ, which every Christian has done. By the way, a modern take on this spiritual exercise is the movie by the same name.

               Martin Luther in his Good Friday sermon also does this and notes that we ponder correctly on the work of Jesus Christ when we realize the horror and folly of our own sin and feel the terror that we should and deserve to suffer God’s wrath. The cross reveals the utter punishment for all who refuse Christ, even for the slightest of sins. But after we recognize that horror, Luther notes that we are to turn our gaze and see who is on that cross. It is Jesus, our Savior. It is He who takes up the wrath of God for me. We see in the face of sheer terror that God’s love triumphs over this wrath. God’s Son is doing this for me. To mediate upon Christ’s holy passion is nothing less than to feel the Law and the Gospel.

            So, we pray that Jesus would send us the Holy Spirit so that His Passion would not fail to do its work in us. To be able to meditate, we must ask Jesus to send us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is given to those who ask the Father in Jesus’s name to give it. God knows how to give good gifts to those who beg Him for it, such as when He grants His Holy Spirit to us. The Scriptures and the work of Jesus are no longer a closed book. No longer are we confused by images and revolted by the cross. Instead, we see the work of God clearly and God’s work will happen to us. Then we will cherish the image of Christ crucified. We will see in Christ’s suffering, pain, and death that we instead will not perish.