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Posted by on Mar 20, 2016

Palm Sunday Devotion – Ah, Holy Jesus, How Hast Thou Offended

Ah, Holy Jesus, How Hast Thou Offended
Chalice Hymnal No. 210

Reproaches sting.

We’ve all felt the bite when someone points out our wrongdoing, mistakes, or weaknesses. Even admitting these shortcomings to ourselves can be painful. Yet reproach is sometimes a necessary or helpful step to healing and wholeness.

In the Good Friday liturgies of many Christian churches, the choir or congregation joins in singing or reciting the “Reproaches” as people come forward to show reverence for the cross. The recurring antiphon sums up well the spirit of this ancient text:

O my people, what have I done to you,
or how have I offended you? Answer me!

Writing in the seventeenth century, German Lutheran pastor Johann Heerman seems to be responding directly to the question posed in the Good Friday Reproaches:

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. (Stanza 2)

Neither the Reproaches of Good Friday nor Heerman’s hymn are intended to leave us wallowing in guilt or fear. On the contrary, as we confess our sin and weakness, we are freed to accept the unconditional love of a Savior who loved us even to the point of death. We glory in the cross, for by his death Christ has saved us and given us life!

Prayer: 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. (Stanza 4)

 – J. Michael McMahon