Jesus Prayed the Guilty Psalms

January 17, 2013

Jesus prayed the Psalms, of that we are sure.  But in what way did Jesus pray those Psalms in which the psalmist confesses guilt and cries out for forgiveness?  Bonhoeffer’s answer to the question has stirred my affection for Christ.  Here are a few relevant quotations:

It is the incarnate Son of God, who has borne every human weakness in his own flesh, who here pours out the heart of all humanity before God and who stands in our place and prays for us….

Christ speaks of the guilt of all men, also about the guilt of David and my own guilt which he has taken upon himself, and borne, and for which he now suffers the wrath of the Father….

How can the sinless one ask for forgiveness?  In no way other than he can, as the sinless one, bear the sins of the world and be made sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21).  Not for the sake of his sins, but for the sake of our sins, which he has taken upon himself and for which he suffers, does Jesus pray for the forgiveness of sins.  He positions himself entirely for us.  He wants to be a man before God as we are.  So he prays the most human of all prayers with us and thereby demonstrates precisely that he is the true Son of God.

Bonhoeffer, Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible, 20-21, 37, 51-52

Christ Jesus, in taking upon himself our sin, also took upon himself our guilt and need for forgiveness.  Jesus prays in our place as the true man.


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