It’s not on anybody’s top ten list. In fact, you’ll be hard pressed to find a service where it will be sung today. It just doesn’t fit the spirit of modern worship. It’s not celebrative or catchy. The tune sounds more like a dirge.
But the words…the words express the scandalous wonder of the cross.
O Love Divine, what hast thou done!
The immortal God hath died for me!
The Father’s co-eternal Son
Bore all my sins upon the tree.
Th’ immortal God for me hath died;
My Lord, my Love, is crucified!
Why on earth would God do this? What would make the immortal God take on human life and then give it up for the likes of us? There’s only one motivation that could explain this seemingly senseless act: Love.
Only Love would sacrificially be broken so we could be healed. Only Love would bear the punishment for our sins so we could be forgiven. Yet still, it’s hard to believe.
Maybe you’ve had a taste of this. After a delicious lunch one day, I reached for my wallet and the waiter said, “You don’t need to pay, sir. Someone has already paid the bill.” “What?” I couldn’t believe it. To this day, I don’t know who bought my meal. But I’ve never forgotten it.
Imagine what it’s like when someone buys your life. Charles Wesley grew up in the church, the son of a pastor and grandson of pastors on both sides. He knew everything there was to know about church and how to be good. But at the age of 30, he came to know Christ. The forgiving Love he felt in that encounter changed his life forever.
As he reflected on Good Friday, he couldn’t help but express his amazement in this poem turned into a hymn. Notice how often he says “me” or “my” in this one stanza. Although written three years after his conversion, he hadn’t gotten over it. The truth is, he never did. Nor did his brother, John, get over his heart-warming experience of Christ’s love at 35.
Nearly three centuries later, there are over 80 million people around the world who count themselves spiritual children of the Wesley’s. What fueled the movement then, and can still fuel it today, is an awe-filled wonder that never gets old. Perhaps that’s why they call this Friday good.