Posted on March 31, 2015
Tuesday: Language Enough to Say Thanks
This is the third post of an eight-day devotional designed to help you praise Christ each day of Easter week. Thanks for joining in!
“What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest Friend?” So begins the third verse (my favorite!) of the ancient hymn O Sacred Head, Now Wounded. Through the centuries, many poets, prophets, preachers and disciples have struggled to find adequate means to express their thanks and praise to Jesus for the salvation He bought. Today, we see how one woman showed her adoration for Him.
Tuesday of “Holy Week” was the day of Jesus’ final visit to the temple, a day spent teaching and healing. By the end of the day He must have been exhausted, but He still had a dinner to attend. His custom was to leave the city in the evening and walk to nearby Bethany—home of His dear friends Mary and Martha, and their brother Lazarus whom He had raised from the grave—where He would spend the night.
Matthew, Mark and John all tell in their gospels about a special dinner given in Jesus’ honor at Bethany, at the home of a man known as Simon the Leper—probably a man who’d been healed of his leprosy by Jesus. (Matthew and Mark place this event on Tuesday evening, while John puts it four days earlier.) Simon was a friend of Lazarus and his sisters; Lazarus was at the table that night.
The formal dinner would have been served at a low table surrounded by large cushions on which the men reclined during the meal. Women served the meal then ate at a separate table, probably in a separate room. So when a woman approached the dinner table and knelt beside Jesus’ feet, she was immediately noticed.
It was Mary, sister of Lazarus, who had loved learning from Jesus (Lk. 10:38-42) and who was grateful to Him for restoring her brother to life (Jn. 11). Without words, she broke the slender neck of a vial containing nard, a very expensive perfume. She poured the sweet-smelling contents over Jesus’ feet and, weeping, began to wipe His feet with her hair.
It was a beautiful expression of gratitude and love, yet it met immediate criticism from those looking on. Jesus rushed to Mary’s defense, saying, “”Wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told in her memory.” (Mk. 14:9) And so, today we remember Mary and the way she portrayed her love for her Lord.
This week, think about how you portray your love for Him. Have you told Him you love Him? Have you shown Him? The hymn O Sacred Head, Now Wounded is appropriately written in the form of a prayer; pray it to Him, then add your own grateful praise.
O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns Thine only crown:
Oh sacred Head, what glory, what bliss till now was Thine!
Yet though despised and gory, I joy to call Thee mine.
What Thou, my Lord, has suffered was all for sinner’s gain;
mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior; ‘Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor, vouchsafe to me Thy grace.
What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest Friend,
for this, Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love for Thee.
© Diane McLoud 2015
O Sacred Head, Now Wounded, translated by Paul Gerhardt, from a Medieval Latin poem credited to Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153 AD). Public domain.