The old hymn “Ah, Holy Jesus” is one I don't remember learning as a child.
I first came across it about 20 years ago, but recognized at once that it perfectly describes my feelings on Good Friday.
“Ah, holy Jesus – how hast thou offended?” the hymn asks.
How, indeed, has He offended? By loving people more than tradition? By caring for those the rest of us ignore or disdain? By serving us rather than celebrating Himself?
Jesus still wouldn't fit in, would He? If He showed up here this afternoon I'm afraid it would go the same way it did before. He would insist on interpreting Scripture – His own word – in ways we don't quite get. He would identify some things as important that we've ignored, and He would let some things go that we simply can't let go of.
He'd still want to please God rather than ingratiate Himself with men.
We'd still be confused, irritated, without understanding.
We'd probably still find a way to do away with Him.
Yet He would still lay His life down for us.
“Who was the guilty?” asks the second verse: “Who brought this upon thee? Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone thee!”
It is this recognition of my own guilt that makes Good Friday such a long day.
The last verse identifies the only response I can make: “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.”
When Johann Heermann wrote this, sometime in the 1600s, he captured the heart of believers throughout time.