Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!
Palm Sunday, or Passion Sunday as it is also called, begins Holy Week. This week is he “holy of holies” of the Christian Church Year. For today we begin our observance of the last days of our Lord’s early sojourn, “for us and for our salvation,” as He enters in the very heart of darkness, sin and death itself. The triumph of the humble King who enters Jerusalem, humble and riding on a donkey, is marked on Sunday with a triumph: shouting crowds and exuberant shouts of welcome and celebration, but in only five days, the shouts of welcome turn to shouts of anger, hate and a call for his death. “O, Dearest Jesus, what law hast Thou broken?” as the old Lutheran hymn puts it. Let us then fix our hearts and minds on prayerful watching and waiting during these days, as we again are led by the Holy Spirit to see in our hearts, and our minds, the evil sinful nature and the thoughts, words and deeds, which put our Lord on the Cross. And repenting of them, despairing of ourselves, we turn once more to Christ the Crucified One, on whom is placed the sins of the world: your sins, my sins. “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!” Here is the Hymn, O Dearest Jesus, What Law Hast Thou Broken.”
[Painting: Procession in the Streets of Jerusalem, by James J. Tissot, (French painter and illustrator, 1836-1902)].
1. O dearest Jesus, what law hast thou broken That such sharp sentence should on Thee be spoken? Of what great crime hast Thou to make confession, — What dark transgression?
2. They crown Thy head with thorns, they smite, they scourge Thee; With cruel mockings to the cross they urge Thee; They give Thee gall to drink, they still decry Thee; They crucify Thee.
3. Whence come these sorrows, whence this mortal anguish? It is my sins for which Thou, Lord, must languish; Yea, all the wrath, the woe, Thou dost inherit, This I do merit.
4. What punishment so strange is suffered yonder! The Shepherd dies for sheep that loved to wander; The Master pays the debt His servants owe Him, Who would not know Him.
5. The sinless Son of God must die in sadness; The sinful child of man may live in gladness; Man forfeited his life and is acquitted, — God is committed.
6. There was no spot in me by sin untainted; Sick with sin’s poison, all my heart had fainted; My heavy guilt to hell had well-nigh brought me, Such woe it wrought me.
7. O wondrous love, whose depth no heart hath sounded, That brought Thee here, by foes and thieves surrounded! All worldly pleasures, heedless, I was trying While Thou wert dying.
8. O mighty King, no time can dim Thy glory! How shall I spread abroad Thy wondrous story? How shall I find some worthy gifts to proffer? What dare I offer?
9. For vainly doth our human wisdom ponder, — Thy woes, Thy mercy, still transcend our wonder. Oh, how should I do aught that could delight Thee! Can I requite Thee?
10. Yet unrequited, Lord, I would not leave Thee; I will renounce whate’er doth vex or grieve Thee And quench with thoughts of Thee and prayers most lowly All fires unholy.
11. But since my strength will nevermore suffice me To crucify desires that still entice me, To all good deeds, oh, let Thy Spirit win me And reign within me!
12. I’ll think upon Thy mercy without ceasing, That earth’s vain joys to me no more be pleasing; To do Thy will shall be my sole endeavor Henceforth forever.
13. Whate’er of earthly good this life may grant me, I’ll risk for Thee; no shame, no cross, shall daunt me; I shall not fear what man can do to harm me Nor death alarm me.
14. But worthless is my sacrifice, I own it; Yet, Lord, for love’s sake Thou wilt not disown it; Thou wilt accept my gift in Thy great meekness Nor shame my weakness.
15. And when, dear Lord, before Thy throne in heaven To me the crown of joy at last is given, Where sweetest hymns Thy saints forever raise Thee, I, too, shall praise Thee.
Notes: Hymn #143 from The Lutheran Hymnal Text: Luke 23: 20-24 Author: Johann Heermann, 1630. Translated by: Catherine Winkworth, 1863, alt. Titled: “Herzliebster Jesu” Composer: Johann Crueger, 1640 Tune: “Herzlebster Jesu”