18 March 2016

Purified for the True Passover of Christ

The Son of God from all eternity has been conceived and born of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the fullness of time, so that as true God in the flesh He should bear you sin and be your Savior.  He has come down from the Father in heaven to fulfill the Word and Will of God for your salvation by the sacrifice of His Body and the shedding of His holy, precious Blood upon the Cross.

In anticipation of this great salvation that He accomplishes by His Cross, He manifests in advance the New Creation of His Resurrection by healing the sick, making the lame to walk, opening the eyes of the blind, and even raising the dead, such as Lazarus.  Sweet “injuries,” indeed!

But like the chief priests and pharisees then, you would rather Jesus die than to give up your own self-chosen way of life; because you fear man more than God, and you love the praises of men more than God.  You fear losing your place and position here on earth more than you fear losing your Savior and Redeemer.  You fear giving up your plans and the pursuit of your hopes and dreams, more than you love the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away your sins.

So do you persist in your sins, in your plots and machinations.  And so do you put Him to death, if not by nailing Him to the Cross, then by refusing to embrace His Cross and Passion in your life.

But now, fear the Lord your God, and repent of your sins and self-promotion!

Recognize the Lord as He comes to you in the flesh.  Receive Him by faith, and revere Him with your body and soul, lest He cease to walk among you and leave you lost and helpless without Him.

He does not abide forever with the self-righteous.  He comes to call sinners to repentance, to turn them from their sins to faith and discipleship, and to give them life by His forgiveness of sins.  So does He call you to cast away the works of darkness and to live in the Light of His Holy Gospel.

Your life does not consist in your own works and efforts, nor in your own position and power, no matter how greatly you prize these idols in your life and derive such pleasure from them.  They will perish, and you along with them, before too long.  You cannot purify yourself, and all your own sacrifices cannot make you worthy to partake of the Passover, in which true life is actually found.

Rather, it is the One who has died in your place to atone for your transgressions, who has also risen from the dead for your justification and reconciliation with God, who sanctifies you by His grace alone through His Word of the Gospel, the forgiveness of your sins, and gives you His own Life.

His death was not the work or accomplishment of sinful man.  It was the good and gracious will of God for the salvation of sinners, yourself included, which He has accomplished in the Hour and by the way of His own choosing.  No one takes His life from Him, but He lays it down willingly.

And having done so — having been handed over by His Father to the voluntary suffering and death of His Cross, and having taken up His Life again by the Spirit of His Father — He now distributes the Fruits of His Cross in the world.

By the Ministry of His Gospel, He causes His Word to be preached to the ends of the earth.  And by His preaching of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, by the catechesis of His Word, and by the washing of the water with His Word and Spirit in Holy Baptism, He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies disciples from all nations.  He brings them into His Church as the beloved children of God in Himself.  He purifies and protects them by His Blood, and He feeds them with His flesh.

So has He called you here to Himself in love.  So has He enlightened you by His Word and Spirit, and sanctified you by the grace of His Gospel.  And so does He raise you up from death to life, day after day, week after week, year after year, through His forgiveness of your sins.

Not only does He welcome and receive you to Himself in mercy, but He seats you at His Table as a guest of honor in His House.  He who is both God and Man is present for you at this Altar in the true Passover Feast of His New Testament, that you might worship Him by faith in His Word and receive Him to yourself, into your body of flesh and blood, unto the life everlasting.

Seek the Lord where He is found, which is here in the Temple of His Church on earth.  Be cleansed and forgiven by His Body and His Blood, that you should not perish but live forever in Him.

In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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