"Those dear tokens of His passion, Still His dazzling body bears, Cause of endless exultation, To His ransomed worshipers. With what rapture, with what rapture, with what rapture, Gaze we on those glorious scars!"
This last Sunday of the church year before Advent begins is often when we reflect on the final, glorious return of our ascended Lord and Savior! This hymn paints a vivid picture of a type of eclipse.
Have you ever seen a solar eclipse? (Hopefully, you've never seen one without eye protection!) During an eclipse of our nearest star, we glimpse it behind the Moon's dark shadow. The visible and glowing portion of the Sun, appearing from behind the darkness of the Moon's face -- which is blocking the Sun's blinding light -- produces an extraordinary contrast. We can literally see and appreciate how dark the Moon's shadow is when contrasted against the Sun's glorious rays!
This hymn describes an eclipse something like this. It's a glimpse of what God's saints will experience on the day of Jesus' glorious return. In this hymn we see an eclipse of the Son set against the stark contrast of our human sin. This is the day our Lord in all His glory returns to gather the sin-laden (ashen, dead, funeral-clothed) faithful, in bodily form, back to Him ... forever! Do you get this eclipse? The artistry of the hymnwriter's words juxtapose our bleak and sinful condition against the radiant glory of our Savior.
This isn't just a beautiful illustration of our Savior. This is our Savior! This is how much He loves us. When Christ willingly died for us, He died for all our ugly sins that scarred His glorious body. The inventive lyric, the contrast of light and dark set in this hymn, paint a picture of Jesus' body bearing the "dear tokens of His passion." These earthborn scars -- like the Moon against the Sun -- create an unimaginable eclipse against His glorious body.
As the text says, we are "His ransomed worshipers." Through Jesus' blood He has bought all of us who have turned to Him in faith for the forgiveness of our sins. He has set us free from the damnable power of the devil by His victory at the open tomb. And what a freedom we now have! It leaves us gazing in praise at those glorious scars! In those wounds we see the contrast of the sins of all mankind against His perfect body -- given for our redemption.
It's a picture of God's love for all people.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, the separation of light and dark was Your first creation. While the fall of man created another reality of this divide, based on man's original sin, we thank You for Your Son who has redeemed the faithful, through His death on the cross, to bring them back to Your eternal light and back to fellowship with You, now and forever. In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Jay DeBeir. It is based on the hymn, "Lo! He comes with Clouds Descending," which is found on page 336 in the Lutheran Service Book.
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