Lent 5 2020 Judica
March 29, 2020
Zion Lutheran Church + Nampa, ID
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Today is the beginning of Passiontide, a mini season within Lent wherein we have a special period in commemoration of our Lord’s Passion and death. It’s our final preparation for Easter. Throughout the season of Lent we are led to repent over our sins, but we are never left without the joyous assurance of our acceptance by God for the sake of Christ. The enormity and seriousness of our sin is held before us in light of Jesus’ suffering and death. There is a calming joy in our redemption even when we focus upon the great sacrifice of our Lord.
It’s our Lord’s will that we are reminded of Him and His love for us. It is the cross we need to remember. From the arms of the Cross comes the power to transform and direct us. There we are cured of sin. There the Christian character is acquired. We must meet our Lord on Golgotha if we are to know Him.
What we find at Golgotha is not for the squeamish. Christ's bloody death is at the heart of all we believe. The Old Testament is full of bloody sacrifices. The blood of the ram sacrificed in place of Isaac. The blood of the Passover Lamb that marked the doors of the Israelites. The blood of the Covenant splashed upon the altar and the people. The blood of the bull as a sin offering. The blood of the goat sprinkled on the horns of the altar. When Solomon built the temple, he offered up 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. That's a lot of blood. Why? Because the life of a creature is in the blood. And blood shed must be paid for by blood shed. Sin must be met by sacrifice. Apart from the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22).
In the book of Hebrews, Jesus is presented to us as both the Sacrifice and the Sacrificer, the High Priest. Hebrews tells us that Jesus enters once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves, but by means of His own blood” (Hebrews 9:12). Only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies, and He does this for the explicit purpose of shedding blood. The blood of the animals sanctified, made holy, for the purification of the flesh, but it was subject to death. Once shed, the life in the blood dies. But the blood of Jesus, the blood of the Lamb of God, subjects death to Himself. He dies but does not stay dead. His blood runs free and living through His veins even now as He is seated at the right hand of the Father on His heavenly throne.
By His blood we are cleansed from our sins. By his blood, sin is paid for, we have atonement with God. He purifies the conscience, a conscience spoiled by sin and ruined to dead works. His blood poured out upon the cross, shed for you, to cleanse you from all unrighteousness. The very blood of Christ, shed on the cross, we now drink from the chalice. The very blood of Christ we receive, and it cleanses us from all sin, making it possible for sinful flesh to be in the presence of a holy and righteous God. Death itself retreats in the presence of the blood of Life, as Jesus promises in John 6:54-56, “Whoever feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise Him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in Him.” Again He says in John 11:25-26, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.”
Now that Divine blood is more than mere sentiment or abstraction, for we drink it in. And in doing so we drink in the life of Christ, even as we are cleansed and receive all the atoning benefits of our Lord's death. One of the greatest tragedies of this current situation is the temporary loss of the reception of the blood of Jesus in the Sacrament. May these days created in Christians everywhere an urge and desire to receive the Sacrament as often as possible and yearn for the days soon to come when we can gather around the altar once more. Until then, you are not separated from Christ, nor from the benefits of His sacrificial death and glorious resurrection. For by faith, all the benefits of the cross are yours. You are still forgiven because of the blood of the Lamb. Yes, with good reason, we glory in Christ's bloody sacrifice; in the Passion and Cross and the Resurrection.
This Divine blood now purifies us to serve the living God and people enlivened through faith. The High Priest has made you priests. If you truly believe God’s word that through Christ you are made into a royal priesthood of all believers (1 Peter 2:9), you should think more about what the priesthood means. The vocation of the priest is to sacrifice, it is a bloody ordeal. As priests of the Lord present yourselves, soul and body, as a living sacrifice to God. But it is not your blood you need to sacrifice, nor your good works to cover up your sins. The blood of Christ has been shed. You are already a bloody people, sprinkled and cleansed in Holy Baptism, fed and nourished by the Sacrament, set apart to serve in our vocations as parent, child, sibling, citizen, teacher, student, friend, neighbor.
Having your sins paid for by Christ, your sacrifice is now turned to the needs of others. It ought to be your joy and privilege to serve the living God in your vocation and in service of your neighbor in these unprecedented times. As fear of sickness and death surrounds you, live and trust in the provision of the Lord, who shed His blood that you may have life eternal. In the name of our crucified and living T Christ. Amen.
Some of this is based off thoughts by Dr. Peter Scaer