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Good Friday 2024
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
March 29, 2024


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            The Jewish father goes into the sheep pen to select the best year old male lamb.  Once he has identified the perfect one he maneuvers to separate that lamb from the flock and pins him against the wall of the pen gets a hold of the frightened 120 pound animal and puts a rope around its neck so he can lead it out of the main pen to a special small pen made just for this lamb.  Four days later the father will kill the lamb and collect its blood and paint the blood on the doorposts and lintel of his house.  The Lord promised Moses that whoever’s house is marked by the blood of the lamb, that house will be protected when the Lord comes to kill the firstborn in all of Egypt.  The Lord will pass over any house marked by the blood of the lamb. 

            The Jews would continue to kill a lamb, roast it and eat it every year on the 14th day of the first month to remember the Passover.

            Over the centuries the blood of countless lambs was shed at the Temple in Jerusalem to atone for the sins of the children of Israel.  As we learn in Hebrews 9:22 (ESV) 22 … without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”  The blood of those lambs provides a partial cleansing; a temporary pardon.  It allows life with God in this age, but not… in the age to come. 

            John the Baptist sees Jesus coming to the Jordan and declares, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”  Today we remember that the Agnus Dei, the Lamb of God, comes to Jerusalem for the Passover.  He comes to Jerusalem for the festival that remembers how the blood of the lamb protected the children of Israel in Egypt.  He comes to offer Himself as the perfect, final sacrifice to take away the sins of the world.

            Jesus tries to prepare His disciples for what is going to happen.  He tells them three separate times.  As we heard in our Gospel reading a couple Sunday’s ago, the last warning and promise on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem is most specific.  Mark 10:33–34 (ESV) 33 … “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. 34 And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.” 

            The Lamb enters Jerusalem on Sunday.  On Thursday the Lamb of God eats the Passover meal with His disciples.  There is a lamb on the table and there is the Lamb at the table.  The Lamb transforms the once-a-year eating of lamb in remembrance of the Passover into the frequent eating of the Lamb for the forgiveness of sins.  The Lamb gives you His body to eat and His blood to drink.  Eating and drinking not only in remembrance of His death, but to receive the body and blood of the Lamb in, with and under the bread and wine for forgiveness and eternal life.  In baptism and in Holy Communion you are marked by the blood of the Lamb.  Ephesians 2:13 (ESV)  13 …now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” 

            After dinner, the Lamb goes to the Garden with His disciples to pray and prepare.  At the Garden the ones who will kill the Lamb choose from the flock the perfect Lamb for the sacrifice.  They separate the Lamb from the flock, bind Him and lead Him off.

            On Friday the bound Lamb is silently led to slaughter. Isaiah 53:7 (ESV) 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.” 

            The sinless Lamb is led to the slaughter and sheds His blood to save you from the Lord’s judgement.  His blood is poured out and given to you.  In your baptism you died with Christ and you were raised with Christ.  Your sins are covered by the robe of Jesus’ righteousness made white by the blood of the Lamb.  You are protected by the blood of the Lamb.  1 Peter 1:18–19 (ESV) 18 … you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” 

            Lucas Cranach the Elder was a German Renaissance artist in Wittenberg Germany at the time of Martin Luther.  Cranach and his Son painted the altarpiece for St. Peter and Paul Church in Weimar Germany.  There is a lot going on in this painting of Jesus’ crucifixion.  One thing is that the artist paints himself into the altarpiece and depicts blood flowing from Jesus’ side arching down onto the artist’s own head.  He wants to show that the blood of Christ is given directly to each Christian without an intermediary priest or saint.

            Jesus’ blood flows directly to you and you are marked by the blood of the Lamb.  You wear the robe of Christ’s righteousness which covers all your sins.  Like the Jewish homes in Egypt, you are marked by the blood of the Lamb so, at the judgement on the Last Day, you will be protected from eternal death. 1 Corinthians 5:7 (ESV)   7 …For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.

            The sinless Lamb of God shed His blood for you to wash away all your sins.  He gives His life in exchange for yours.  He dies on the cross as the perfect, final sacrifice.  His body is taken away, wrapped for burial and laid in a borrowed tomb.  The Lamb has been slain…He shed His blood for you. You are marked by the blood of the Lamb.  Amen.