25 March 2018

Blessed Is He Who Comes by and with His Precious Blood

Child of God, do not be afraid.  Daughter of Jerusalem, rejoice and be glad.

See here, your King is coming to you.  Do not be afraid of Him.  He comes to save you.  And do not be afraid of anything else, either, because your King is near.  He is here with you.  He is at hand to help you, to give you life.  He is your King, and He has come that you may live with Him in His Kingdom in safety and security, at peace with God in His righteousness.

King Jesus comes into His Holy City.  He comes in the Name of the Lord, into great Jerusalem.  He has come to die for you and your salvation. And He comes here and now to forgive you by the way and the means of His Cross, to cleanse you with His holy and precious Blood, to set you free from your sin and death, and to bring you into the presence of God in and with Himself.

He is the new and greater David, and so He comes into a new and greater Jerusalem, a City eternal in the heavens, whose Builder and Architect is God.  He comes into His Holy Church, and He calls and gathers you there to Himself.  So do we acknowledge and rejoice in His coming by singing the Sanctus and the Benedictus as our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving in the Liturgy of the Lord’s Supper: “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the Highest!”

The donkey that He rides into His Church is the Altar from which He gives to you His holy Body and pours out for you His precious Blood, and the bread and wine with which He gives to you His Body and Blood.  As the donkey brought Him into His City then, into the City of His Passion and His Cross, so does this Holy Sacrament bear Him from His Cross here to you in His Church, in a new and better Passover Feast.  For Christ is your Passover, who has been sacrificed for you.

Therefore, do not be afraid.  For His coming means not death but life for you.  In fact, to share in this Feast, to partake of this Passover, to eat this Lamb and drink His Blood, this is your life.  This is your life with God in Christ, in His Kingdom, already now, and yet forever hereafter.

But how shall you “remember” these things?  And how will you “understand” this Word of Christ?

How shall you contemplate His Cross and Holy Passion, and how shall you recognize His divine Glory in His suffering, death, and burial?

How shall you receive this Cross of Christ and its precious Fruits, and how shall you rejoice in these good Gifts which Jesus freely gives you by His grace?  How shall you recognize His Cross and the Fruits of His Cross, not as a scandal, and not as foolishness, but as your great Salvation?

Watch and pray, surely.  Pray that you will not be led into temptation.  Watch with Him throughout this Hour of His Passion.  Give attention to His Word of the Cross and to the preaching of it.

For here, especially, is how you are prepared.  Here is how you are called to remember, because God remembers you in love with the Word that He preaches and the Gifts that He gives to you.  And here is how you are given to understand, and, better than that, to receive the Gifts of God in faith and with thanksgiving, not by your own wisdom, reason, or strength, but by the Holy Spirit.

Hearken to His Word of forgiveness.  For that is finally what He says to you in all of these things.  Your sins are forgiven by the Ministry of the Gospel in the Name and stead of Christ.  Your sins are removed, they are taken away; they are not counted against you, nor counted at all anymore.  For Christ has borne them in His Body to the Cross and put them to death in His Body forever.

Hearken, then, to His Word and preaching of forgiveness.  And give attention to this Sign that He performs in your presence.  It is a better Sign than His disciples were given then, on that day, when He road into His Holy City and they greeted Him with palms and shouts of “Hosanna!”

It is a better Sign that He gives to you here and now in His Supper.  For not only has He raised Lazarus from death and the grave — as by His voice He will raise your body at the last and forever — but He Himself is risen from the dead, having accomplished Redemption by His own Blood.

His Resurrection is the proclamation of His Victory, the proclamation of His Cross and of all that He has accomplished by His Cross for you and for all people.  His Resurrection is the proclamation of that Victory even to the ends of the earth.  And His own risen Body, His flesh and blood, these are the First Fruits of your Resurrection, the First Fruits of your Salvation.  His flesh and blood, crucified and risen from the dead, are the First Fruits of the New Creation, into which you have been born again, and in which you live by the grace of God, by virtue of your Baptism into Christ.

And this same Lord Jesus Christ, who was given over for your transgressions and has been raised for your justification, He is your King who is coming to you here within His Holy Church.

Do not be afraid.  Kneel in homage at His Name, as heaven and earth kneel at the Name of Jesus.  Worship and honor Him as your King.  Fear the Lord, all you His saints, by repentance and faith in His forgiveness of sins.  But do not be afraid, and do not cower in fear at His coming.  Rather, welcome and receive Him in peace and with great joy, because He is coming here to save you.

He comes with Redemption.  He comes in the Righteousness of His Gospel, which is for you by His grace alone.  He comes not for condemnation, but with forgiveness, in order to give you life.

Come here, then.  Meet Him here at His Altar.  Not symbolically or metaphorically, nor with some nostalgic memory of days gone by, but in His tangible means of grace, as real — or more real — than your own flesh and blood and the whole of His good Creation.  Come to meet Him here at His Altar in His Body and His Blood, given and poured out for you to eat and drink with your body.

And thereby enter with Him into His Holy City, into His Temple — made without hands, eternal in the heavens — and yet, established by the death of Christ here on earth as it is in heaven.

You do not have to go searching for Him, because He has sought you out and come to you here.  You do not have to climb the highest mountain, because He has descended from the heights into the valley of the shadow of death, in order to raise you up in His Body to the right hand of God.

He is here with you.  Come, meet Him here.  Find Him where the waters of Holy Baptism flow in and with His Word of the Gospel.  Follow those waters to the Feast, to the better Passover of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is Himself the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the whole world.

Here is the life-giving Fruit of His Cross, and here is the power of His Resurrection from the dead, the power of His own indestructible Life, by which He raises you from death to Life everlasting.  It is all right here in the Crucified One, His Blood shed for your salvation; and yet, behold, He lives, also for your salvation, for your justification, and for your reconciliation with God in Him.

Follow Him in the Way of His Cross, which is the Way of repentance and faith.  Follow Him in this Way of the Cross, unto eternal Life with God, through His Blood of the eternal Covenant.

The Life of God is in His Blood.  And His Blood is poured out for you here, for the forgiveness of all of your sins.  As you have perhaps seen depicted in a famous work by the great Christian artist, Albrecht Dürer — or similarly portrayed by others in various works of art — the Blood of Christ that He shed upon the Cross fills His Font and His Chalice, that it might cleanse you here within His Church on earth, in the washing of the water with His Word in Holy Baptism, and in the New Testament of His Blood, which is poured out for you and for the many in His Supper.

That Blood of Christ is holy and precious.  That is not simply rhetoric or piety, but a confession of what is most certainly true.  It is not imaginary Blood, nor “let’s pretend,” but the real deal, which He shed once for all upon the Cross, and which He pours out for you to drink from His Cup here at His Altar.  And it is in and with this Blood of Christ that God gives His own Life to you.

The Letter to the Hebrews is explicit.  It is by the Blood of Christ that the heavenly Sanctuary is sanctified for you.  It is already most holy in itself, because it is the dwelling place of God, but it is sanctified for you, that you might enter into the presence of God without fault or blemish or any sins; that you might be holy, even as He is holy, and worship Him forever and ever without fear.

It is by the Blood of Christ that you enter into that Holy Place, because He, by His own Blood, has entered into that Holy Place once for all.  And there in the presence of God His Blood is your Anchor that binds you to God forever, because He by His Blood has bound Himself to you.

And when the Letter to the Hebrews speaks of the Blood of Christ — when I preach to you this Blood of Christ — it is the Blood that He shed upon the Cross.  And it is no less that same Blood which He pours out for you here at His Altar, that you might not simply think about it, but that you should actually drink it with your mouth into your body, according to the Word of Christ who says, “Drink. This Cup Is the New Testament in My Blood, which is poured out for you.”

It is with this Blood of His that your King, Christ Jesus, has entered into His Holy City — and what is more, He has entered into the Most Holy Place, into the very Bosom of His Father, with His crucified and risen Body of flesh and blood like your own.  He has entered there for you, that you may be with Him where He is, with God forever, as He Himself has spoken and has promised.

It is by and with this same Blood of the Covenant that Christ Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, gives Himself to you here and now.  And by this Blood He binds Himself to you, and you to Him, body and soul, so that no one shall ever be able to snatch you away from Him: Not now. Not ever.

It is by this Blood of Christ that you live — tangibly, already here in this Sacrament — and bodily in your own flesh and blood, here in your life on earth within your own place, within your own home and family — and hereafter in the Resurrection of your body to the life everlasting.

It is by this Blood of Christ that you love and serve your neighbor in peace and without fear.  It is by this Blood of Christ that you bear His Holy Cross and suffer patiently, as He has suffered for you and for all.  It is by this Blood of Christ that you are strengthened and sustained in the one true faith.  It is by this Blood of Christ that all of your sins are daily and richly forgiven in His Name.

Do not fear, dear child of God.  Behold, your King is coming to you with this holy and precious Blood of His, poured out for you to drink, and with His crucified and risen Body, given for you to eat as the pledge of your own resurrection.  Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the Highest, and Peace to His people on earth!

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

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