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The Blood That Pardons

March 9, 2017

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Wednesday of Lent 1                                  Trinity Lutheran Church

8 March 2017                                               Murdock, NE

 

+ Jesu Juva +

 

Hebrews 9:15-22

 

Do you know what a last will and testament is? Sometimes it is just called a will. A last will and testament is the legal document that bestows or imparts a person’s inheritance. A last will and testament is the lawful way that your property and wealth gets distributed to your loved ones after YOU DIE. DYING! That’s the key! For a last will and testament to go into effect the testator, the one who drew up the will, has to die. No doubt, many of you have heard stories of greedy nephews and nieces that couldn’t wait for their insanely rich uncle to die so that they could nab their inheritance of millions. Can you imagine what the charities and relatives of Warren Buffet will receive from his last will and testament? It will boggle the mind! Remember, however, that the testator has to die in order for the inheritance to be donated.

 

Well, that is the point of tonight’s text. Jesus has established His last will and testament. What is the inheritance He promises to bestow to you? It is the forgiveness of your sins! Forgiveness of sins? Yes, the forgiveness of sins! That’s something far more important that inheriting millions of dollars. Forgiveness is SALVATION!

 

In order for you to receive the legacy of forgiveness, Jesus, that testator, has to die. So, quoting from the Old Testament book of Leviticus, the writer of Hebrews categorically states: “Without the shedding of blood there is not forgiveness of sins.” Jesus forgives sins. He doesn’t indulge them. He doesn’t overlook them. He doesn’t say, “Oh, that’s OK. I just pretend you didn’t sin.” No. Jesus FORGIVES sin! And that forgiveness requires blood! The blood of Jesus. And that means He’s going to have to die. Which He does. On the cross.

 

Hebrews declares that even the first covenant in the Old Testament at Mount Sinai was not put in place without blood. That’s Exodus 24. Let me review it quickly with you. At Mount Sinai Moses preached God’s Word of the covenant to Israel. The people agreed to the God’s Word that Moses preached: “All the words that the LORD has said we will do,” (Ex. 24:3). Then Moses built an altar at the bottom of the mountain. He set up twelve pillars that stood for the twelve tribes of Israel. Animals were sacrificed for burnt offerings and peace offerings.

 

But then Moses did something that’s quite strange to our ears and our modern sensibilities. He took the blood of those animals and put it in bowls. Half of the blood Moses sprinkled on the altar. The other half of the blood he splattered on the people! Through the blood of sacrifice God’s promise to be God FOR ISRAEL was sealed. Ratified. Confirmed. With the blood God bound Himself to act as God for Israel. In addition, stained with the blood of sacrifice, Israel was cleansed – purified – so she could have fellowship with the LORD and the LORD with Israel. A holy communion! Shed blood in the Old Testament maintained Israel’s relationship with the LORD in that the LORD promised to be and act as God for her. This is precisely why Aaron, the high priest sprinkles the blood of bulls and goats on the mercy seat in the tabernacle. That’s Leviticus 16. That’s another sermon for another time.

 

Well, that was the Old Testament covenant. However, Jesus is the Mediator of a new covenant or a new testament. This New Testament is an eternal testament established by the LORD Himself and it is established with His own blood – His Divine-Good-Friday-Shed-On-The-Cross-Blood. No more need for the sacrificial blood of bulls, goats and lambs. Why? Well, because the LORD Jesus is the one and only sacrifice that atones for all sin. On the Good Friday Cross Jesus pours out His own blood to atone for the sin of the world. What is your sin? Name it. No, on second thought, don’t. We’d be here all night. The point is this – the very divine blood that flowed through the arteries of Jesus covers and atones for all your sin. ALL OF IT! HE DIDN’T LEAVE ANY SIN FROM THE STAIN OF HIS GOOD FRIDAY CLEANSING BLOOD. Jesus’ blood purifies you. Jesus’ blood brings you into fellowship with God the Father. His blood gives you an eternal inheritance – the forgiveness of sins!

 

One of my good friends, Pastor John T. Pless, tells quite a story about an incident that took place in his childhood church in North Carolina — Old St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. This congregation was established before the Revolutionary War. One of the striking characteristics about Old St. Paul’s was not just its age, but THE BLOODSTAINS that are still visible in the balcony. Yes, that’s right — bloodstains in the balcony! The story goes like this.

 

In the years before the Civil War, slaves had to sit in the balcony which at that time was called the “slaves gallery.” The slave of a local plantation owner ran away. He hid himself in the church balcony thinking that after nightfall he would make his way north to freedom. Well, the plantation owner was quite hot tempered. He found the slave crouched under a pew in the “slaves gallery” and proceeded to shoot and kill the slave. The bloodstains on the pew and on the floor remain to this day reminding visitors of that blood shed long ago. However, the blood of the New Testament, the divine blood of Jesus on the cross, is more than a reminder or recollection. The blood of Jesus remains a present reality or fact.

 

The blood that poured from His body on the cross is the same blood that He gives you to drink in the Lord’s Supper. The cup of wine is the New Testament in His blood poured out FOR YOU FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS! The blood that dripped from the Redeemer’s hands and feet did more than stain the wood of the cross and redden the ground. Again, the blood of LORD Jesus atones for the sin of the world and your sin too.

 

So, this Sunday when you take the chalice or cup in the Lord’s Supper, you are not simply remembering a death that happened 2,000 years ago in a desert land far, far away from here. When you drink the wine at Holy Communion, the cup of the New Testament, you are drinking the very blood that was shed and poured out FOR ALL on the cross but is now given for you to drink with Jesus’ promise that your sin is forgiven. That blood gives you an eternal inheritance.

 

The death of the testator, Jesus Christ, has taken place. His last will and testament has been set in motion. Jesus names you as an heir. The gift that He gives is forgiveness. Forgiveness, that brings eternal life – eternal fellowship or communion with God. What joy! Now you know why the Lord’s Supper is so important for Christians and why they partake of it as often as they can.

 

In the Name of Jesus.

 

 

 

 

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