Remembering the crucifixion, with Isaac Watts

A devotional for the Lord’s Supper and offering, to be paired with singing “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” by Isaac Watts.

“Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God.” Romans 11:22

God is both good and severe. He is kind and benevolent, yet just and unchanging. While the idea of a God who is both good and severe may seem paradoxical, our wonderful God is perfectly good in all that He does. Yes, God is good, even in His severity. The severity of God often serves as a backdrop against which His goodness is portrayed. Never have these complex attributes of God coalesced more poignantly than in the cross. In his classic Hymn “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” Isaac Watts said:

See from His head, His hands, His feet,

Sorrow and love flow mingled down!

Did e’er such love and sorrow and meet,

Or thorns compose so rich a crown? (Watts)

The severity of God was poured out on Jesus, God’s beloved Son, that the goodness of God might flow abundantly to all men.

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed… Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. (Isaiah 53:5, 10, 11)

We will now share in the Lord’s supper as a memorial for His sacrifice for our sins.

Prayer for the bread: O, Father, you are good and you are just. We are thankful that you are a God of grace who has chosen to substitute the innocent for the guilty, your beloved and faithful Son to redeem people who were lost because of our choices to sin against you. Thank you for this bread that to us represents the unblemished body of Jesus, which He freely offered up to be broken for the healing of many. Forgive us of our unfaithfulness. In Jesus’ name, amen.

[Partake of the bread]

Paul said to the Corinthians:

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. (2 Corinthians 5:14, 15)

Isaac Watts said it this way:

Were the whole realm of nature mine,

That were a present far too small;

Love so amazing, so divine,

Demands my soul, my life, my all. (Watts)

Prayer for the cup: God, as we now drink the cup which to us represents Jesus’ guiltless blood that paid the price we could not pay to redeem us from the slavery with which we enslaved ourselves, we thank you for your amazing love and for this memorial emblem. We thank you for the new covenant of grace made possible through the sacrifice of Jesus, by which you have promised to be our God and redeemed us to be your people, members of your family. We commit to you our souls, our lives, our all. In Jesus’ name, amen.

[Partake of the cup]

Offering remarks

The Lord has given many good gifts. May we never forget the giver in our enjoyment of the gift, and may we open our hands to give to any who has need; for in such a manner we are also open to receive God’s blessing. Isaac Watts said:

All the vain things that charm me most

I sacrifice them to His blood. (Watts)

Offering prayer: God, we praise you for your generosity. You are our provider. You chose us to be yours before the world began that you could make us children in your house and bless us with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus. And beyond that, you have given us so much. Bless the work of this church that your name may be great and that many will be saved through the missions and ministries here and abroad. In Jesus’ name, amen.

[Collect the offering]

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