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Blood That Gives Access

March 16, 2017

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Wednesday of Lent 2                                 Trinity Lutheran Church

15 March 2017                                             Murdock, NE

 

+ Jesu Juva +

 

Hebrews 10:10-22 / Blood That Gives Access

 

God’s presence is never neutral. In fact, to come into God’s presence can be quite hazardous. Perilous. Threatening. Here’s what I mean. Sinners, apart from Good-Friday-Dead-On-the-Cross-Jesus, cannot presume to step into God’s presence. Sinners cannot barge right in on God on their own terms, conditions or stipulations. On their own and without the blood of Jesus sinners do not have proper access to God. It would be hellacious for sinners to claim access to God on their own terms! It would invite instant death. Unholy sinners cannot charge or burst into God’s most holy presence because it would be like throwing a match on gasoline. Most holy and unholy do not go together.

 

A classic example of this is Exodus 19 when God gathered Israel around Himself at Mount Sinai. To protect sinful Israel from being wiped out or incinerated by God’s most holy presence, God solemnly instructed Moses to set boundaries around the holy mountain. In fact, God said, “Take heed to yourselves that you do not go up to the mountain or touch its base. Whoever touches the mountain shall surely BE PUT TO DEATH,” (Ex 19:12).

 

Here are a few more examples. Only the sons of Levi were permitted to touch the Ark of the Covenant (God’s throne). If anyone else dared to touch it they died because the ark was the revelation of God’s most holy presence and sin cannot coexist with His glory. The holy of holies, the most holy place in the tabernacle was off limits to all except the high priest. He could only enter it once a year on the Day of Atonement as long as he had the sacrificial blood to cover his own sins and they sins of Israel. Well, here the point. The Old Testament makes it quite clear that God’s most holy presence is very dangerous for those who are unclean, impure, unholy, that is to say, polluted by their sin. Holy and unholy don’t go together!

 

This helps us understand properly St. Paul’s high pastoral care to the Christians at Corinth. In 1 Corinthians 11 St. Paul speaks of those who partake of the Lord’s Supper but have become guilty of sinning against the body and blood of Jesus by eating and drinking in an unworthy manner. Then he goes on to say: “For this reason many of you are weak, sick and some have died,” (1 Cor 11:30). To treat the most holy body and blood of Jesus in Holy Communion as only bread and wine that you eat and drink at home is to profane the sacred gift and it harms you. That’s precisely why the church practices “closed” communion. We want people to commune but we want them to communion worthily and not to their detriment. So, sometimes we have to say to those that deny Christ’s body and blood in the Sacrament, “we love you so much that we kindly request that you not commune unworthily and bring God’s judgment against you and perhaps against us all.”

 

C.S. Lewis knew all this too. God’s holiness can have a detrimental effect on anyone who comes into wrong contact with His own glory or holy gifts. Make no mistake – we are not given to profane God’s holy glory or His holy things. So, in Lewis’ children’s novel The Lion, The Witch and Wardrobe, Mr. Beaver tells the children that if there is anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly. Lucy, of course, asks, “Then he (Aslan) isn’t safe?” and Mr. Beaver answers, “Who said anything about being safe? Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King I tells you.”

 

God isn’t safe but He is good. That goodness God has provided you with is the flesh and blood of His Son Jesus. You only have gracious access to God’s most holy presence in Jesus. Tonight’s text from Hebrews 10 tells you that you have boldness to enter the Holiest Place – the inner sanctuary where only the high priest was permitted to go on the Day of Atonement. Remember, in the Old Testament, the high priest entered into the holy of holies once a year with the blood of bulls and goats. You, however, have access to the Holiest Place, the place of God’s most holy presence, by the flesh and blood of Jesus offered on His Good Friday cross.

 

Whereas the Old Testament high priest stepped behind the veil, the curtain, into the presence of God Himself, with the blood of the sacrifice, now Jesus Christ, your Great High Priest establishes your entre to God’s gracious presence with His own divine flesh. His body is the new and living way by which you come into God’s presence and live. In addition, it’s only by Jesus’ divine blood that you are sprinkled clean and holied so that you are able to stand before the living God and not be destroyed. You, dear brothers and sisters, are given such heavenly access to God in the Lord’s Supper. After all, it is in the Lord’s Supper that Jesus gives you His flesh to eat and His blood to drink. The Lord’s Supper is Jesus’ gift to you in order to give you access to God. Through His Word that says, “This is my body given for you” and “this cup is the new testament in my blood,” you are given the forgiveness of sins that holies you. Holied by His words and gifts you have admittance to God’s presence and you live.

 

So, brothers and sisters, you do not have to retreat from God’s most holy presence. With a repentant heart and the assurance of faith in God’s promises of forgiveness in Jesus, we draw near to God. Think of it. The Lord of heaven and earth – the God that dwells in unapproachable light – draws near to you and invites you to dare to step into His gracious presence. Sin would drive you from the Lord’s presence (like Adam and Eve that hid from God). However, I’m here to tell you categorically that God Himself has atoned for all your sin by the divine and poured out blood of Good Friday Jesus. By means of Jesus’ blood God forgives your sin, adopts you as His children, and invites you into His life-giving presence. God Himself qualifies you to come into His most holy presence for life, not death.

 

So, I beg you, as much as a pastor can beg. Lay hold by faith to the gifts God has given you in Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. I beg you in the way of verse 22 in tonight’s text: “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

 

Brothers and sisters, Jesus shed His divine blood on the cross to atone for all your sin. The blood that He shed for you there He then gives for you to drink in the Lord’s Supper in order to purify you from your unholy sin and give you peace and life with God. In baptism you are joined to Jesus death and given the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life. Each in its own way, both the blood and the water, Lord’s Supper and holy baptism, are the gifts that give you access to God Himself and boldness to live in His gracious presence.

 

Jesus is your great High Priest. He has provided entrée into God’s gracious presence for unholy sinners. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him. By His Good Friday death He has delivered you from sin. By his forgiveness given in baptism and the Lord’s Supper He delivers the very Good Friday forgiveness He won FOR YOU. Washed in baptism and sprinkled with His blood in baptism and the Lord’s Supper, you have the privilege of access to our heavenly Father.

 

In the Name of Jesus.

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