Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Sermon for 3/17/21: Midweek Lent 4 (Hymns of Lent series)


 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.


Glory be to Jesus,
Who in bitter pains
Poured for me the lifeblood
From His sacred veins!


In speaking about sacrifices made upon the altar, the Lord said to Moses, The life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” For this reason, the Jews were not to eat any blood. Blood has always been an important matter for the people of God, even from the first murder in human history. When Cain kills his brother Abel out of jealousy, the Lord tells Cain, The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.” Blood is never silent, because blood is a living thing, and living things speak to the One who made them. With perhaps some poetic license our hymn writer tells us:


Abel’s blood for vengeance
Pleaded to the skies…


Now, Scripture doesn’t actually tell us what the blood of Abel said to God. We don’t know if Abel’s blood wanted vengeance, or if it just told God it was there. Even so, we know God heard it, and we know God punished Cain harshly for shedding his brother’s blood.

           The descendents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who were gathered to celebrate the Feast of the Passover knew the power of blood. The Passover they were in Jerusalem to celebrate was a celebration of the blood of the Passover lamb. The lamb’s blood marked their homes as the homes of the children of Israel; seeing that blood, the angel of death would spare the firstborn sons of Israel. They knew the power of blood, and they wanted to see it spill from the One who was sent to be their King. They wanted to spill the blood of the true Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ. They should have paused before crying out, “His blood be on us and on our children.” Because blood has power; The life of the flesh is in the blood…”

           But God hears prayers and answers them. The people wanted the blood of Jesus to spill on them, and God made sure the people got what they wanted. Fortunately, He doesn’t always answer them the way we mean them to be answered. The hymn writers tells us:


           ...The blood of Jesus

           For our pardon cries.


The blood of Jesus echoed His words from the cross: Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” The blood of Jesus cries out to the Father for our deliverance, because that’s what Jesus came to do: He came to die for us, bearing our sins upon the cross. Then He rose from the dead to win new life for us. And then He ascended into heaven, where He intercedes for us before the Father. For “you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” The blood of Jesus is powerful. The blood of Jesus is your life.


Grace and life eternal
In that blood I find;
Blest be His compassion,
Infinitely kind!


Blest through endless ages
Be the precious stream…


And now that the blood of Christ is upon you, that blood also speaks to you. Jesus says, “Be holy, for I am holy.” Only by the holiness of Christ that pours down upon us from his cross can we ever do what God demands. Only through the blood of Christ upon us can we be sober regarding the things of this world and the things of God. Only through the blood of Christ upon us do we obey God and mortify our dying flesh. Only through the blood of Christ upon us can we rest our hope in His grace. Only through the blood of Christ upon us do we dare fear, love, or trust Him.

Through the death of Christ upon the cross, we die to ourselves and live by the holiness of Christ. As His baptized, blood-bought people, His blood continues to be powerful for us, feeding us with forgiveness and life as we receive that blood into our mouths in the Holy Supper. And so we give thanks to God for the holiness and the life He has given us, which we bear in the blood-marked crosses upon our foreheads and upon our hearts—now during Lent and throughout our earthly days.

Lift we, then, our voices,
Swell the mighty flood;
Louder still and louder
Praise the precious blood!


In the name of the Father and of the (†) Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen. 

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