For  while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person, though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die, but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. — Romans 5:6-8

I love this story about a little known American folk hymn taken from, “The One Year Book of Hymns” devotion for April 17, written by William J. Petersen and Randy Petersen. The haunting hymn is titled, “What Wondrous Love Is This?” performed here by the St. Olaf Choir. It attempts to answer the question, “What made Jesus die for me?”

No one knows the author but the hymn came out of a difficult era in a one-time blighted part of our country known as Appalachia, or perhaps better identified as the coal country of West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Maryland, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, and as far south as Georgia. Despite the general prosperity in the United States after World War II, it was a continued time of extreme poverty in Appalachia, as mines opened and closed. Generations knew little else.

The text is stirring as it asks the questions of the ages, and after all the glorious celebration of Easter season, the full understanding of these questions may remain about the willing sacrifice of the death of our Lord, called “wondrous love.”

“What made Jesus do it? What made Jesus do it for me?”

Christ died for “the ungodly.” That’s you and me. He died for our souls “while we were still sinners,” and we may ponder that for the rest of our lives. But in response to that kind of perfect love, we can also resolve to devote our lives to Him, to please Him, and praise Him both now and for all eternity (2 Corinthians 5:9,15). Here are the lyrics and the haunting questions:

What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul.
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul?

What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul,
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of life
To lay aside His crown for my soul, for my soul,
To lay aside His crown for my soul?

Do you totally understand that kind of love? Do I? Maranatha!

To help us walk closer with God and to know Him better

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