O Sacred Head, Now Wounded

At Stephen's Anglican ChurchSt Stephen’s Anglican Church

Today is Good Friday. How can the worst day in human history be described as good?

This is the day that Our Lord was crucified. It is the day he hung on the cross for all our sins. It is the day of darkness at noon.

The story of the last days of Jesus’ ministry should be familiar to all. Knowing he would be killed, our Lord entered Jerusalem on the back of a colt.

 

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He was hailed by the multitudes, who lay their cloaks in his path, who spread palm fronds before him. “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they cried.

How quickly that would all change.

When Jesus was betrayed by a kiss, violent men took hold of him. He would not allow his disciples to respond in kind. Taken before the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate, Jesus said “I have come to bear witness to the truth.”

Pontius Pilate answered: “What is truth?” How many governors to this day, rulers of the earth, ask that same question? They act as if truth is all relative, a matter of perspective, if it exists at all.

Jesus feared not. When Pilate told him he had the authority to put him to death, Jesus answered. “You have no authority except that it is given to you from above.”

Surely, this was the greatest political statement in history. All authority exercised by the rulers of this world comes from above. And they are responsible to God in heaven for their exercise of it, whether they know it or not. Nothing that happens now is as important as what happened two thousand years ago on that hill of Calvary.

We hear much of death with dignity these days. Our Lord’s death was anything but dignified. He was beaten, mocked, spat upon. They stuck out their lips as they cursed him. When he cried out in thirst, they gave him only vinegar on a sponge. Roman soldiers cast lots–they actually gambled–for his garments.

I hear that some people today prefer not to be called Christians. They tell reporters that this word has too much “baggage.” Imagine the baggage–the weight of all the sins of the world–that Jesus carried along with that rugged cross.

We strive, knowing we are unworthy, but we strive nonetheless to be His followers. Being called Christian is our greatest hope. Being despised for His sake is our greatest honor.

Perhaps the best words for this most sorrowful day are to be found in that timeless hymn, “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded.”

O sacred Head, now wounded,
with grief and shame weighed down,
now scornfully surrounded
with thorns, thine only crown:
how pale thou art with anguish,
with sore abuse and scorn!
How does that visage languish
which once was bright as morn!

What thou, my Lord, has suffered
was all for sinners’ gain;
mine, mine was the transgression,
but thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior!
‘Tis I deserve thy place;
look on me with thy favor,
vouchsafe to me thy grace.

What language shall I borrow
to thank thee, dearest friend,
for this thy dying sorrow,
thy pity without end?

O make me thine forever;
and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never
outlive my love for thee.

I thank you, my Lord and my God, for every breath I take. I thank you for bearing my sins and the sins of this fallen world. Make us yours forever, Lord, and let us never outlive our love for you.

Tony Perkins, Washington Update
Family Research Council