24 March 2016

The Passover Lamb of God

The Sons of Israel were not spared from death because of any merit or worthiness or innocence of their own.  They were delivered on account of the Lamb, which was sacrificed in their place.  Its blood covered them, and its flesh fed them.  Not as though any animal could merit atonement or redemption, but it was their rescue by the Word of the Lord, by the grace and mercy of God.

On account of His divine and holy Love, He instituted the Passover as the Prophecy and Promise of Christ Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  In Him is the fulfillment of all the Law and the Prophets, of the Exodus from Egypt and the Good Land of Canaan.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the firstborn Son of God from all eternity, who has also been conceived and born as the promised Seed of the Woman, of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel.  In His own flesh and blood, He is the Ram caught by His horns upon the branches of His Tree, the Lamb that God has provided for Himself in place of all the sons and daughters of Adam.

He is given and poured out upon the Altar of His Cross as the Propitiation for your sins, and not for your sins only, but for the sins of the whole world.  His Sacrifice has been completed, once and for all, and there is no more sacrifice for sin.  His Victory is certain, finished, and complete.

Yet, the Passover of God requires not only that His Lamb be sacrificed, but that His holy, precious Blood be applied to you, that it should mark and cover you; and that you should eat His sacred Flesh in repentance and faith, with praise and thanksgiving to the Name of the Lord.

It is true that you are already clean by the Word that He has spoken to you; for He has called you by the Gospel and sanctified you with His gifts.  And in Holy Baptism He has washed you with water and His Word, and poured out His Spirit upon you through the forgiveness of your sins.

But consider your life and your circumstances in this world.  You do not love your neighbor as Christ the Lord loves you, but you do continue to sin day after day in your thoughts, words, and actions.  And you are surrounded on all sides, within and without, by sin and death, and by the assaults and temptations of the devil, the world, and your own fallen and perishing flesh.

Your covetous lust can so easily lead you astray, into sin and finally death, as happened in the tragic case of Judas.  How often do you compromise yourself for money or for pleasure?  And how often do you excuse your selfishness and sin, supposing that you are in a position to call the shots?  But to pursue that path is to open your heart, your body and life, to Satan and his wicked ways.

If the Lord Jesus does not continue to wash you, to cleanse you with His Blood and feed you with His Flesh, you shall have no part in Him.  If He does not teach you by His Word, you shall perish.  You shall be consumed and destroyed by the angel of death on account of your unbelief and sin.

Do not be like Simon Peter, questioning and resisting the Word of the Lord and His Means of the Gospel.  Rather, hear and heed the Word of Christ, and trust Him to serve you in His divine Love.  Remain in the House of His God and Father, and so keep the Feast at His Table.  Live and love as a child of God, and give no place to the devil in your heart, mind, or behavior.  But where you have fallen into temptation and sin, return to the Lord your God by fleeing to His mercy in Christ Jesus.

Your life as a Christian surely ought to be one of joyful faith and confidence, and how shall we not give thanks on a night like this, in particular.  But so also are you called to live in the fear of the Lord, and to exercise sober judgment and repentance by His Word and Spirit in this sinful world.

Examine yourself, as the Holy Scriptures and the Small Catechism admonish and instruct you.  Consider your station in life according to the Ten Commandments, and judge yourself honestly in the light of God’s Word.  Recognize your sinfulness, your weakness, your mortality and death.

And knowing your failure and your need, confess your sins and receive the forgiveness of Christ Jesus, your Savior.  Be returned to the cleansing and life-giving waters of your Holy Baptism by the right use of His Word in Confession and Holy Absolution.  And as He remembers you in love and speaks to you in peace here in His Supper, so eat the Flesh with which He feeds you, and drink the Blood with which He removes your sins, shelters you from death, and brings you into Paradise.

Here at the Table of the Lord is where and how you learn to love and serve your neighbor as a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ; because here is where and how He loves you and serves you as His own, sustaining you with His Body and Life throughout your pilgrimage, even to the end.

Here is the Hour of His Glory, where He is glorified in His grace and mercy as your Savior.  For here is where the Glory of His Cross, His Victory over sin and death, and the power of His bodily Resurrection are all given to you, and poured out for you, for the forgiveness of all your sins.

Here the devil cannot have you or tyrannize you anymore; not while the Word of Christ rings in your ears, in your heart, in your body and your mind.  Nor can your sin accuse you or harm you; not while you cling by faith to the forgiveness of the Gospel.  And even death cannot touch you forever; not while you rest and remain in the Body and Blood of the Lamb.

Though the world may shed your blood and slay you, yet the Lord Himself prevails for you and saves you from sin, death, and hell.  For you are baptized into Christ, and here in His Supper you abide in Him, and He abides in you, unto the life and salvation of your body and your soul.

It is the Lord’s Passover, and you are His Israel indeed, whom He sets free from bondage and brings through the wilderness into the good Land that He has promised; that you may live with Him in His Kingdom and worship Him and serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness all your days, even to the close of the age, to the resurrection of your body and eternal life in Him.

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

No comments: