As we remember Johann Gerhard today, we read a devotion he wrote as translated and printed in Meditations on Divine Mercy.
O most godly Jesus, I thank You that, receiving the penalty of my sin, You willingly underwent hunger, thirst, cold, exhaustion, ridicule, persecution, sorrow, poverty, imprisonment, scourging, the piercing of thorns, and even a bitter death on a cross. How great is the fire of Your love that persuaded You to plunge willingly into the sea of that suffering for a miserable and ungrateful slave. In Your innocence and righteousness, You were free from all suffering, but Your immeasurable and indescribable love made You a debtor and a defendant in my place. I committed the crime; You underwent the punishment. I plundered; You made amends (Psalm 69:4). I sinned; You were punished.
O kindest Jesus, I recognize the depth of Your mercy and the earnestness of Your love (Luke 1:78). You appear to love me more than You love Yourself because You gave Yourself up for me. Why was the sentence of death pronounced on You? You are completely innocent. Why were You, the fairest among the sons of men, spit on (Psalm 45:2)? Why did You, the righteous one, undergo flogging and fetters? All these abuses rightly belonged to me. But You, because of unspeakable love, descended to the prison of this world. You clothed Yourself with my servile dwelling, willingly taking on Yourself what I justly deserve. Because of my sin, I was to be assigned to the unceasing, scorching flames of hell. But You boiled with the fire of love on the altar of the cross, setting me free from these flames. I was to be cast away from the face of the heavenly Father because of my sin. But for my sake, You chose to be abandoned by Your heavenly Father. I was to be tormented forever by the devil and his angels. But You, because of immeasurable love, gave Yourself for me and were harassed and crucified by the servants of Satan.
In the various ways You were made to suffer, I see evidence of Your love for me. Those fetters, those scourgings, those thorns that injured You were because of my sins. You bore all this because of me, because of Your indescribable love. Your love was not satisfied by the assumption of my flesh. You desired to establish that love even more firmly through that most bitter passion of Your soul and body. Who am I, most powerful Lord, that for the sake of a disobedient slave You willingly served so many years? Who am I, the most disgraceful bond-servant of sin and whore of the devil, that for my sake You, fairest bridegroom, did not refuse to die? Who am I, kindest Creator, that for my sake, a most wretched creature, You did not shrink from the punishment of the cross?
Truly, most loving Bridegroom, to You I am a blood bride. For my sake, You poured forth blood so abundantly. Truly, fairest Lily, to You I am an injurious and piercing thorn. I placed on You a harsh and enduring load. The weight of this so pressed You that drops of blood freely flowed from Your body. Because of Your love, Lord Jesus, only redeemer and mediator, I will sing psalms of praise to You for eternity.
Devotional reading is from Meditations on Divine Mercy, pages 67–69 © 1992, 2003 M. C. Harrison. Published by Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.