If Jesus Wasn’t Guilty, Who Was?

jesus-christ-crucifixion-605Ah, Holy Jesus

Ah, Holy Jesus, how hast thou offended,
That man to judge thee hath in hate pretended?
By foes derided, by thine own rejected,
O most afflicted!

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.

Lo, the Good Shepherd for the sheep is offered;
The slave hath sinned, and the Son hath suffered:
For man’s atonement, while he nothing heeded,
God interceded.

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.

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.

Johann Heermann

We sang this song yesterday aswe consider this week, remembering what Jesus did for us on the cross. When this was first introduced to us several months ago, I was simply struck with the choice of words and the haunting tune made an indelible impression on my heart.

The first stanza starts it off by questioning why Jesus was condemned in the first place. He was holy; He had done nothing wrong. But yet His condemnation was by men who passionately hated Him and had to come up with lies in order to carry out their desire.

The second stanza was the most convicting for me. So if Jesus wasn’t guilty, who was? The resounding cry is, “I am!” It was my treason! Doesn’t that just cut you to the heart? If you’re like me, you don’t tend to think of yourself as a bad person, let alone someone who would commit treason. However, we have all at one time or another turned our backs on the God who created us, gave us life to serve Him. It might not be one of open defiance, but even the simple neglect to give Him control of our lives is treason enough. I denied Him; I crucified Him.

The words of the next stanza provide an equally compelling picture. The Son suffers for the slave’s sin. Just that thought is incomprehensible. But the fact that Jesus gave His life to intercede for us while we cared nothing for Him is equally so. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” What amazing love.

The fourth stanza gives the bigger picture why Christ came. He was incarnated, left His throne in Heaven, for me. He suffered untold anguish to accomplish my salvation.

Lastly, the writer acknowledges that he has nothing to repay the Lord, but adoration and service. Why God would want to use us traitors, I’ll never know. In ourselves, we would still deserve God’s condemnation, but He doesn’t look at what we deserve. There is nothing truly deserving of God’s grace in us. Instead, He showed His compassion on us, His great love for us. With His own blood, He made it possible for us to have peace with God.

Jesus took me, a guilty sinner, and made me a child of God.


About CallingUsUpward

“Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing yet had been done.” C.S.Lewis Andy and I have been married for 20 years and have three children in double digits.
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