12 April 2019

Sanctified by the Sacrifice of Christ for the Life Everlasting

It should be clear from this account that you dare not underestimate the depravity of man and the wicked perversion of his sinful heart (nor that of your own fallen flesh).

The chief priests and the pharisees, the religious leaders of God’s people, bearing holy office and zealous for the Law, observe the many signs that Jesus performs, and for these they seek to seize Him and put Him to death.  Jealous of their own position, they choose violence against the Lord.

He healed the sick, made the lame to walk and the blind to see; and now, His most recent crime, He has raised the dead from out of the grave to newness of life.  Sweet injuries, indeed!  Yet, for these the Law and the Priesthood must put Him to death for the benefit and salvation of the people.

And do not suppose that your own sinful heart is free and clear of such depravity and perversion.

To take seriously who Jesus is, what He says and what He does, threatens your comfortable status quo, your “comfort zone,” and your own place and position in this world.

Consider, then, what you are called to drown and destroy in yourself, in your body and life.  Take to heart that, in being called to repentance and discipleship, you are called to die with Christ Jesus.

In setting before you the life of faith and love that He has fulfilled by His Cross and Passion, the Law of the Lord is constantly exposing your sins for what they really are and condemning you for them.  But the Law is powerless to forgive your iniquity or to save you from death and the grave.

Though the Law of God is holy, good, and righteous, you are not.  Therefore, it cannot purify your conscience; it cannot set right your body and soul, your heart, mind, and spirit, with the Lord your God.  The Law can only expose your depravity, and make it worse, and so condemn you for it.

But now that same Law of God dares to lay the same judgment and condemnation upon Christ Jesus, because He has come to fulfill the will of God by the offering of Himself once for all.

Born of the Woman, and placing Himself under the Law, He redeems those who are under the Law.  He does it by the self-sacrifice of the same holy body in which He has lived in perfect conformity with the entire Law of God.  And this seeming contradiction, this travesty of justice by any normal standard, is yet the satisfaction of God’s Law, the fulfillment of His justice and righteousness.

In this Sacrifice of Christ the Holy Priesthood also finds its perfect fulfillment and completion.  For Christ Jesus is the true Passover Lamb, who is also your merciful and great High Priest.

Does He not go up to the Feast?  Indeed, He is the Feast!

He has offered Himself up to God in order to atone for the sins of the whole world; to reconcile you and all people to God in Himself; to purify you and all of creation by His innocent suffering and death, by His holy and precious blood, and by His bodily Resurrection from the dead.

Therefore, also, He now feeds you with the same holy Body and precious Blood that He offered for you on the Cross, so that you are spared and saved from death and sanctified for life in Him.

Here, then, the true Passover of Christ is at hand, here at this Altar.  By this Feast, as by Your Holy Baptism, you are purified forever.  And so do you enter with Christ Jesus, body and soul, through His sacrificial Cross and Resurrection, into the Life everlasting with His God and Father.

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

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