We should not center our attention, however, upon what Christ suffered but rather why he suffered, and the answer is “for my sake.” I am the one who by my sins have deserved that God be my enemy and mock me, even when I cry that the sun should no more shine, the earth no more bear me, and the rocks be rent.
When sins are made plain and the conscience is touched, then a man finds out all that Christ suffered here. Then he, too, will say, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” Therefore, everything that Christ suffered is to be referred to our souls, and the more we exalt the Passion the more clearly do we see our own condemnation.
—Martin Luther’s Easter Book, ed. Roland Bainton, p. 79
“If anyone is thirsty, let him come
To me and drink”—this drink that can’t be sold
Or bought, thirst-quenching nectar, spirit gold,
This fountain out of heaven, given, not won.
Beyond all praise, beyond all princely sum,
The heavenly draught bestows a wealth untold,
The life of God. The thirsty may be bold
To claim the gift held out by God’s own Son.
A drink so rich could not be wholly free:
Fulfilling Scripture, Jesus speaks again:
He gives the draught—transcendent irony—
Who whispers, “I am thirsty,” through his pain.
A human thing, this agony of thirst
By which the arid chains of death were burst.
—D.A. Carson, Holy Sonnets of the Twentieth Century, p. 53. (Out of print but available as a free PDF here. Sonnet based on John 7:37 and 19:28-29.)
On Maundy Thursday the church remembers the last evening Jesus shared with his disciples in the upper room before his arrest and crucifixion. Maundy Thursday marks three key events in Jesus’ last week:
- His washing of his disciples’ feet,
- His institution of the Lord’s Supper, and
- His new commandment to love one another.
This service begins the Triduum, the three-day period from sunset on Thursday to sunset on Easter Day. The name “Maundy Thursday” comes from the Latin mandatum novum, referring to the “new commandment” Jesus taught his disciples (John 13:34). In other words, this is “new commandment Thursday.”
—The Worship Sourcebook, p. 593. Reformatted for readability.
Dilemma wretched: how shall holiness
Of brilliant light unshaded, tolerate
Rebellion’s fetid slime, and not abate
In its own glory, compromised at best?
Dilemma wretched: how can truth attest
That God is love, and not be ashamed by hate
And wills enslaved and bitter death–the freight
Of curse deserved, the human rebels’ mess?
The Cross! The Cross! The sacred meeting-place
Where, knowing neither compromise nor loss,
God’s love and holiness in shattering grace
The great dilemma slays! The Cross! The Cross!
The holy, loving God whose dear Son dies
By this is just–and one who justifies.
—D.A. Carson, Holy Sonnets of the Twentieth Century, p. 101. (Out of print but available as a free PDF here. Sonnet based on Romans 3:21-26.)