Friday, April 18, 2014

Holy Thursday Sermon: "Jesus' Last Will and Testament"

+ Holy Thursday – April 17th, 2014 +
Redeemer Lutheran, HB
Series A: Exodus 24:3-11; Hebrews 9:11-22; Matthew 26:17-30

In the Name of + Jesus. Amen.
Few things humble us more than signing a Last Will and Testament. It brings to our eyes the mortality we try to ignore daily. But there before the lawyer and the witness, before God and the pen everything is disclosed. Every signature the Death needles you more painfully than a tattoo artist. There's no death removal by laser treatment. Dust to dust. Signing a will and testament is literally signing your life away. It's not fun. It's not supposed to be. However, it is necessary. And it is good. Parents love their children in life and in death.

There's nothing you wouldn't do for them. Provide for their needs. Prepare them for the future. And give them life - an inheritance - out of your death. How much do you love me, daddy? This much. Nothing is withheld from you. All that is mine is yours.

There are few things more humbling than this. But there is at least one thing more humbling, no the most humbling thing of all. And he is the definition of humility, the spring of self-sacrifice from which all humility flows.

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation)  he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.

In the Old Testament a covenant was not simply made; it was cut. That’s the literal word for covenant making: “to cut a covenant.” In the OT forgiveness was a bloody affair. You heard Moses: blood on the altar, blood on the people, blood everywhere. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

The New Testament is no different. God still cuts a covenant with us. Forgiveness is still a bloody affair. But the chief difference, of course, is that now we have a new Lamb. And this Lamb gives a New Testament: his flesh and his blood. Jesus will give us nothing but the best, Himself. His blood. His purity. His holiness. His redemption. His spotless conscience. All to cover our impurity, our unholiness, our rebellion, our soiled, sin-ridden flesh.

Jesus cuts one last covenant in his own flesh. It’s a covenant and promise that works backwards and forwards. Backwards, for it fulfills and consumes all the sacrifices of the OT. Every jot and tittle of the Law, every sacrifice, and word of the OT finds its fulfillment in the covenant God cuts in the hands, and feet, and side of Jesus. A covenant that also works forward. From the cross to the chalice. Jesus’ words in the Lord’s Supper continue to do and give what he promises.

The Lord’s Supper is Jesus’ Last Will and Testament for you. Take eat. Take drink. This is the cup of the new testament - the last testament, the everlasting testament - in my blood. Made by the perfect Testator. He is the one who pre-deceases you. That's the legal term for what the Scriptures confess: Jesus Christ is the firstborn of the dead. That's good news for all of us. You are heirs to a greater, everlasting will and testament, signed and sealed in the death and resurrection of Christ.

For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.  For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives.  Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood.  For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people,  saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.” likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry.  And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. (Hebrews 9)

Christ, your Testator, has dipped his pen into Calvary's bloody inkwell and signed his life away to us, his wayward, rebellious children. The Law's demands – the 10 commandments you and I have not kept - have been satisfied. Though we deserved no inheritance, not a penny – and though we squander our Father’s riches daily - he still gives you all he has, freely.

Behold the cross, a divine notary public, declaring to all the world that the undersigned, hereby declares you the benefactors and heirs according to His name. There on the cross your mortality and immortality are both seen clearly. The death you deserved, Christ dies. The life you didn't deserve, Christ gives to you freely.

Death has lost its sting. Yes, it pokes, prods, and pricks us here in this life. But Death no longer has dominion over you. Jesus has taken your death. He is your Testator. His death is the guarantee of all he promises you. He gives you his body and blood. Take eat. Take drink. He gives you his death and resurrection. It's yours in Baptism. His promise and testament are yours. Go in peace. Your sins are forgiven.

And that's the chief difference between our Will and Testament and Jesus' Will and Testament. Ours ends on this side of the grave. His does not. His destroys the power of the grave. His is an everlasting covenant, a Testament without end. Our pain and suffering is but a shadow, our legal documents but a copy of the greater suffering endured and the greatest inheritance given by Christ for you and for the world. For Jesus is not only the giver of the inheritance. He himself is our inheritance. That's the joy of heaven come to earth. On the night in which He was betrayed…

…Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”  And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 

That Holy Thursday - the long-suffering night, the betrayal, the trial, the mockery and beating, the stripping and cruel coronation, the death march to Good Friday - none of that was any fun for Jesus either. Then again it wasn't supposed to be. But it was good. And it was necessary. Jesus loves us little children into birth and life in His Name. He loves you to death. And that means nothing and no one will snatch you out of his hands. Just ask him; He still has the scar-tissued parchment to prove it to you.

There's nothing he wouldn't do - nothing he hasn't done - for you.

Tonight we taste and see that the Lord, and how his mercy endures forever. His table is prepared. Jesus provides you with a holy meal. Jesus’ body and blood is your food of forgiveness, your bread of life, your manna in the wilderness, your inheritance, his new testament to you.

Tonight we join Moses and all the saints as we behold God, as we eat and drink.

Tonight we are gathered in the Holy Place where Great High Priest Jesus pours out his eternal redemption from the cross to the chalice.

Tonight the Lamb of God without blemish gives you forgiveness without limit marking the very doorposts of our heart and soul with his blood.

Nothing is withheld from you. “All that is mine is yours,” Jesus declares. “I, the undersigned, do hereby declare it”

“Take, eat; this is my body…Drink of it, all of you, this is my blood of the new testament, which is poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins.”

In the Name of + Jesus. Amen.


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