When it comes to sacred music there are two options. The first we can sing about how Jesus is worthy of OUR worship. The law in how WE lift his name and sing his praises. Then there is the second option, the better option. The option where the Gospel is present.
What is the Gospel specifically? The number of people who don’t know is both surprising and sad. Specifically, the Gospel is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ FOR MY SINS, FOR YOUR SINS, FOR OUR SINS, FOR THE SINS OF THE WORLD!
The Higher Things Conference hymn definitely shows us the Gospel.
O Love, How Deep – LSB 544
“O love, how deep, how broad, how high,
Beyond all thought and fantasy,
That God, the Son of God, should take,
Our mortal form for mortals’ sake!”
John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son…” The ‘so’ in this verse does not say that God loved the world so much, but it shows how God loved the World. “God loved the World in this way, He gave His one and only Son”
God’s love in this act is greater then we can even dream about! This stanza also shows us that it was no mere man who came for us. This was God the Son of God, 100% God who took on our mortal form, 100% man, FOR US!
“He sent no angel to our race,
Of higher or of lower place,
But wore the robe of human frame,
And to this world Himself He came.”
What? He thought that we were important enough for Him to come to us Himself? Surely an angel would have been sufficient right? No, FOR US God came as a man. His glory was covered up by the robe of human flesh only for His grace and mercy to show through in His bloody body on the cross.
“For us baptized, for us He bore
His holy fast and hungered sore;
For us temptation sharp he knew;
For us the tempter overthrew.”
Christ Baptized? But why? (Pr. Kuhlman put it wonderfully: http://blog.higherthings.org/bb55841/article/2922.html) In His baptism Christ takes all the sin out of the water and places it on himself. He was Baptized FOR US, so he could die IN OUR PLACE (FOR US) He was tempted FOR US in every way yet FOR US he did not succumb to temptation!
“For us He prayed; for us He taught;
For us His daily works He wrought,
By words and signs and actions thus
Still seeking not Himself but us.”
Jesus prayed for us? Sure He did! Just look at John 17. Or even his words on the Cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” He taught for us too! Just look at the Scriptures, he didn’t teach those things just for the people there, otherwise why would they have been written down. Every week we hear Jesus teaching, through the reading of the Scriptures and through the words of the Pastor’s Sermon.
“For us by wickedness betrayed,
For us, in crown of thorns arrayed,
He bore the shameful cross and death;
For us He gave His dying breath.”
The Gospel FOR US! FOR US He let those thorns pierce His head. FOR US His bloody body was put up on the cross, for all those around to mock. They told Him to prove Himself as the Son of God to take Himself down from there. FOR US he does not give into that temptation. FOR US He stays up there, FOR US He prays, and FOR US He Dies.
“For us He rose from death again;
For us He went on high to reign;
For us He sent His Spirit here
To guide, to strengthen , and to cheer.”
Death could not hold Him! He rose again, just as he said he would, three days later! He rose FOR US. We rose with Him! He left His apostles just weeks later. Did He leave His apostles and us to fend for ourselves? Of course not, He is at the Father’s right hand on our behalf. He didn’t leave us alone. He sent His Spirit!
“All glory to our Lord and God
For love so deep, so high, so broad;
The Trinity whom we adore
Forever and forevermore.”
Through the Gospel we join with the angels singing, “Glory to God in the Highest!” Only through His love in the Gospel can we do so. We are not worthy to praise God by ourselves. We rely on the blood of Jesus to make us worthy. That name we were marked with at our Baptism makes us worthy. We were washed, cleansed in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit! With that we can sing His praises forever and forevermore!
So what is the response to the FOR YOU of the Gospel? Is it go and do this, this and this? Of course not because we can’t, but Jesus did! The only proper response to the FOR YOU of the Gospel is AMEN!