Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

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Location: Moscow, Idaho

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday
March 20, 2008
Text: Ex. 12:1-7/Matt. 26:17-30

Hear the Word of the Lord from the Book of Exodus, the Twelfth chapter:

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be for
you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell
all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall
take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. And if the
household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take
according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall
make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year old.
You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, and you shall keep it until the
fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel
shall kill their lambs at twilight. Then they shall take some of the blood and put it
on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it” (ESV).

The children of Israel were saved by the blood of the Passover lamb. It was the last of the ten plagues, and by all accounts the most horrendous. Pharaoh had hardened his heart. He would not let God’s people go. And the consequence of that decision was that the first-born of all in the land of Egypt would die that fateful night. The angel of death was passing through. But the children of Israel were given instructions for their deliverance and salvation. In the very midst of death, they would be saved. Each house was to sacrifice a year-old lamb without blemish, paint its blood on the doorposts and lintels of their houses, and the angel of death would pass over them. The first-born within those houses would be saved. While death looms outside, the children of Israel are saved by the blood of the lamb.

The Israelites were to eat the lamb, and along with it, unleavened bread (there was no time to wait for the bread to rise, and all the leaven should be removed from the house), and bitter herbs to remind them of the bitterness of their slavery in Egypt. They were to eat in haste, belt fastened, feet shod with sandals, staff in hand, for tonight they would be delivered from their slavery. No longer would they serve the Egyptians. Now they would be freed to serve God in righteousness and faith. And they were to keep the Passover feast, year after year, generation after generation, as a means of commemorating and, in fact, actually participating in the saving events of the Exodus. “And when your children say, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses’” (Ex. 12:26-27; ESV).

Our Lord Jesus is a true Son of Israel in whom there is no guile. So it is that He kept the Feast of the Passover in the upper room with His disciples. Death looms outside that room for Jesus. Unlike the ancient children of Israel, Jesus will not be passed over, but the disciples will, and we will, for Jesus is our Passover Lamb who has been sacrificed on the altar of the cross. Listen as Jesus says to you this evening, “Take, eat, this is my body,” and again, “Drink of it all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matt. 26:26-28). Remember the bitterness of your slavery to sin, and then remember the Lord’s great mercy as you partake of the Lamb of God who sacrifices Himself for the forgiveness of all your sins. In His death, the blood of the Lamb of God, pure and holy, is painted on the wood of the cross, that death might pass over all who are safe in Him. In His death, our Lord Jesus frees us from our slavery to the devil and sin. In His death, our Lord Jesus destroys the power of death.

So tonight we keep the Feast, the fulfillment of the Passover. Take, eat, for under the form of bread is the true body of our Lord Jesus Christ. Take, drink, for under the form of wine is the true blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, the New Testament in His blood, shed for you, for the forgiveness of your sins. In the Sacrament, the blood of God’s Passover Lamb is painted on the doorposts and lintel of your heart. In the Sacrament, Jesus is present in His body and blood to cleanse you and strengthen you, to justify you by faith and make you holy by giving you His Holy Spirit. In the Sacrament, Jesus stands as your new and greater Moses who leads you in exodus out of your slavery to sin, death, and the devil, that unholy three. The Passover is fulfilled in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, and in your eating of His flesh and drinking of His blood here before the altar. When you receive the Lord’s Supper, you not only commemorate His Passion, you receive all the benefits of His cross and actually participate in the events of your salvation. Therefore come, come before that altar of God’s grace, where Jesus is both host and meal. Receive tangible forgiveness for all your sins. Be strengthened for the journey, for the exodus. Doubt not, but believe. Believe the words of our Lord’s promise, that His body and blood are given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins. For whoever believes these words has exactly what they say: forgiveness of sins, and along with that, eternal life and salvation. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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