Jesus, I Will Ponder Now
A Hymn For Lent
#140 in The Lutheran Hymnal
Although his life didn’t go as his father had wanted, the perspective that Sigismund von Birken gained through his study has proved to be good for us today.
Born in 1626 and raised in a pastor’s family, he was forced to flee at the young age of three years with his family and other evangelical pastors from Bohemia to Nuerenberg, Germany. It was there he completed his Gymnasium training. At the University of Jena he began his study of law and theology, the latter at his dying father’s request.
But after a mere two years he left those studies behind and dedicated his efforts to poetry, where his true gifts lay. Two years after leaving Jena, he was admitted to the Pegnitz Order, one of the most famous of the numerous Baroque literary societies, of which he became Chief Shepherd in 1662.
The combination of his gifts in poetry and his religious unbringing gave him a truly Christian perspective, which is evident in this month’s hymn study.
Every year as we celebrate the season of Lent, it is good for us to begin with the perspective of which Birken writes. When we see Jesus’ “holy Passion,” His “bonds and stripes and wretchedness,” we realize that “I also and my sin wrought Thy deep affliction.”
But never do we stop there in despair, for in “God’s only Son” who “suffered without measure” we see that “God must have compassion” — yes, on us! Yes, we and our sins are the “cause . . . of Thy crucifixion,” but in Jesus’ sufferings and death God gives the loving solution to those very sins! So “If my sins give me alarm . . . Let Thy cross my fear disarm . . . Grant that I may trust in Thee!”
In Christ on the cross we are enabled to see ourselves from God’s perspective. We are forgiven sinners, saints bound for heaven. As Birken wrote: “May I give Thee love for love! Hear me, O my Savior, That I may in heaven above Sing Thy praise forever!” Amen.
–Pastor Paul Krause