Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
April 18, 2019
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Full Service Audio: bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship
The year old lamb bleats furiously as a man’s arm wraps around his belly and lifts him off the ground. The lamb’s shiny black eyes dart around; alive with concern and curiosity. The hot Egyptian sun is beginning to set as the man carries the lamb home. He takes a short length of leather cord ties the lamb’s four feet together, lays the helpless lamb down on a rock, and picks up a sharp knife. Holding a clay pot under the lambs’ neck the man draws the knife across and silences the lamb. The brightness fades from the lamb’s eyes as his lifeblood drains into the jar.
The man skins and dresses the lamb and gives it to his wife who is preparing to roast the lamb over the fire. The man takes the jar of blood and with a crude brush paints the blood on the doorposts and lintel of their home.
That night, the family eats the flesh of the lamb along with unleavened bread and the Lord passes over their house marked with the blood of the lamb and they do not experience the plague of the death of the firstborn. The next day Pharaoh relents and releases the children of Israel from their bondage in Egypt.
Every year after the children of Israel on the tenth day of the first month select a lamb, and on the fourteenth day they sacrifice the lamb and eat it roasted over the fire. They eat the flesh of the lamb to remember God’s mercy in protecting them from the death of the firstborn with the blood of the lamb.
For 1500 years the children of Israel sacrifice a lamb on the fourteenth day of the first month; one lamb for each family eaten with unleavened bread to remember the Passover. Millions of lambs over the centuries are sacrificed and consumed to remember God’s deliverance of the Jewish people from slavery to the Egyptians.
The Passover is a meal of remembrance; a meal that celebrates Gods miraculous liberation of the Jewish people from bondage in Egypt. The Jewish people did not fully understand this, but while the Passover looks back, it is also looking forward to the perfect, final Passover Lamb who delivers His people from slavery to sin. John the Baptist declares upon seeing Jesus, John 1:29 (ESV) 29 …“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! .
The upper room in Jerusalem that Thursday is lit only by a few lamps and the last beams of the setting sun coming through the windows. The thirteen men are gathered to remember and celebrate God’s deliverance of His people from slavery in Egypt; to remember and celebrate salvation that came through the blood of the lamb. They are eating the Passover lamb; they are drinking wine and eating unleavened bread. It is a meal to remember God’s great love for His people.
There have been many, many Passover meals over the years since Moses led the people out of Egypt. There have been countless Passover lambs sacrificed. But this Passover meal is different, the lamb is not only on the table, but the Lamb is the host of the meal. Jesus of Nazareth is there and at this Passover meal Jesus starts a new meal.
That night; the first Maundy Thursday, Jesus transforms the Passover meal of lamb, wine and bread to the bread and wine of Holy Communion in which we eat and drink the body and blood of the Lamb of God.
That Thursday, Jesus looks around at the others with Him in the upper room, His eyes alive with love and concern for these men. Things are going to be rough and one of them will betray Him. Jesus looks at His disciples with brown eyes full of life. In less than 24 hours the life will drain from those eyes as Jesus dies on the cross and is laid in the tomb.
Jesus is the new Passover Lamb whose blood is shed to rescue His people from their sins. Just before being arrested and tied up, the new Passover Lamb gives a great gift to His followers. Luke 22:19-20 (ESV) 19 … he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. Soon after Jesus institutes this new covenant meal, Jesus is arrested and abused. His blood soon starts to flow with blows and abuse and it does not stop until 3 PM the following afternoon when the Roman soldier pierces His side and out flows blood and water. Jesus, the perfect, sinless Lamb, was brutalized, He shed His blood, but not a bone was broken, just like the Passover lambs eaten for centuries. Using a remembrance meal of the old covenant, Jesus institutes the meal of the new covenant in His body and blood with Himself as the sacrifice.
Gathered here on this Maundy Thursday, we receive the Body and Blood of the Lamb of God for the forgiveness of our sins. What Jesus began that first Maundy Thursday we continue today and each Sunday until Jesus returns in glory. It is a meal for sinners to receive forgiveness of sins.
Today (tonight) we remember and celebrate Jesus giving us a new covenant meal; a new promise sealed in His blood; a new gift of forgiveness for a sin-sick world. Jesus pours His blood into the chalice of the Lord’s Supper to mark you as one safe from the wrath of God. In Holy Communion we eat and drink the Blessed meal; bread, wine, Body, Blood, Lamb of God, forgiveness of sins, and remember how God protects us from eternal death by the blood of that Lamb; Jesus, the Christ. Amen.