Watch the Lord going down from Galilee to Jericho and from there upwards toward Jerusalem. That is his goal and the place of his suffering, crucifixion and death. That is where Golgotha is and there he will bring the ultimate sacrifice of most holy love. It’s a passage of sacrifice and propitiation, but it is also the way of supreme love. Love is the ruling empress in this suffering, death and burial. It’s love that brings him to utter: “It is done. It is fulfilled. It is accomplished!” Love let’s his eyes fade, breaks his heart and pours out his life-giving blood, shed for many for the forgiveness of sins + Love prepares him for the resurrection. Love reunites him with his loved ones and ultimately with the Father and the Holy Spirit in blessed trinity and undivided unity. Love fills out the forty days he spends again with the disciples after the resurrection. Love carries him heavenward, love rules and he is nothing but love in both action and being as he rules with all authority in heaven and on earth. His walk is love and he is pure love.
And we? What about us? Can we let that pass us by in this Lenten tide without being gripped by his love and passion? Without waking up to follow him in faithful discipleship and dedicated obedience, trust and love as we see him, who loved his own till the very end? Can we hate, be angry, envious and lead self-centered lives while the King of Glory is consumed by his exemplary love to us and passion for all the world? Is there nobody, who will prepare him-/herself lovingly to follow him all the way to the cross and be with him until the end this Lenten tide? Is it not well nigh impossible to remain without love and passion in this precious and most treasured time of commemoration and contemplation, when our highest majesty, our Lord God Jesus Christ, proclaims his love and passion to us in word and deed?
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O loving God! Do you hear the panting of desire o Lord? Do you see the passionate tears shed for you and in the burning desire that you would enter in and make a dwelling in us? You have been marked by painful wounds of suffering and punishment. Hear us and in this time of commemoration fill us with your holy love and passion. Amen (Wilhelm Löhe)
O love of my love, you desired bliss and salvation! In purest passion you offered yourself as the impeccable lamb to be slaughtered in most despicable misery and suffering for us and our salvation. You paid the sacrificial ransom with your precious blood and made up for all the evil in this world with your innocence and perfect goodness.
O love of my love, with a strong heart and determined will you suffered all shameful humiliation. No fear or pain, not even deaths threat and hardship could dent your love for us. Lovingly you showed yourself – powerful and enduring, lovingly you remained throughout until the very end, when you gave up your soul into the hands of the loving Father. (Elisabeth von Senitz, 1629-1679. The translation is rather more literal than poetical)
Translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for Friday after the Sunday Estomihi (Last Sunday before Lent) as found on Pg. 115 in Lob sei Dir ewig, o Jesu! (Eternal Praise to you o Jesus!) edited by A. Schuster and puplished in the Freimund Verlag, Neuendettelsau 1949.