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  • Writer's pictureRev. Chris Brademeyer

Blood and the New Covenant

A Sermon for Maundy Thursday 2024

Maundy Thursday, March 23, 2024

Exodus 12:1-14

Rev. Christopher W. Brademeyer

 

That portion of God’s holy Word for consideration today is our Old Testament reading from Exodus chapter 12 with special emphasis in verses twelve and thirteen which read as follows:

 

“ For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.”[1]

 

Thus far the Scriptures.

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

                “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” These words of promise were delivered through Moses to the people of Old Testament Israel as they suffered under the yoke of slavery in the kingdom of Pharoah. This promise concerned the last of the great ten plagues, the death of the first born. During that night, the angle of death would visit the land of Egypt and destroy the first born of every house. But the firstborn of the Hebrews would be spared, so long as they had done what the Lord had commanded. Namely, they were to sacrifice a perfect, unblemished lamb and paint the sides and over the doors of their houses. When the angel saw the blood, he would pass over the house and spare those inside, which is where we get the name of this day, Passover. This may sound strange, but this was meant not as some good work by which the ancient Israelites would earn salvation in this matter but was a sign foretelling the need for blood to be shed on our behalf to deliver us from death.

                Specifically, this was meant to point forward to the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus. Neary fifteen hundred years after the Exodus,[2] our Lord Jesus would be put to death and in so doing, would earn for us forgiveness, life, and salvation.

                This event, this Passover, was to be commemorated by annual Passover dinners, ritual meals that recalled the events of that fateful night when the angel of death had carried out God’s will and thereby freed Israel from their bondage in slavery in Egypt.

                Now this event was observed annually each year on the fourteenth day of the first month, called Nissan, in the Hebrew calendar. This was the occasion of Jesus’s last supper, that is to say, this was the reason that Jesus and the twelve disciples were gathered in the upper room. In that room, Jesus instated for us the Lord’s Supper, that is to say, the Sacrament of the Altar wherein He gives us His very body and blood to eat and to drink.

                Now this is an interesting thing, that our Lord gives us His body and His blood for the forgiveness of our sins and with that life and salvation. You see, blood still figures into God’s plan for us. Just as blood allowed ancient Israel to be free from having their first born given into death, so now the blood of Christ gives us a way through death into everlasting life. To drive home this point, the very blood of Jesus Christ is given for us to drink, uniting us to Him by that same blood. In other words, death no longer sees you as a toy for it to play with or grab onto. No, instead it has been overcome through blood, the blood of Jesus.

                Blood is needed for life and without it, we cannot live. Further, blood that has been shed is a sign of death. But in the case of our Lord Jesus, shed blood is life, that is, is the cause of our forgiveness and eternal life. And, by participating in the very blood of Jesus in the Lord’s Supper, we have marked the doorposts of our hearts, so to speak, such that we are now free from that death due for sin, instead, we have life and have it abundantly.

                Further, this receiving of the Lord’s blood unites us with Him in the most personal of ways. To commune with the Lord, to take His body and blood, is to take Him into yourself and reinforce that unity between believer and Savior that is a central part of our standing as Christians by Christ and what He has done. It is our privilege, in this life, to have Him with us, for our benefit.

                The Lord’s Supper, then, is the final fulfilment of the ritual eating that was commanded in Exodus twelve. That is to say, what was done in ancient times to recall the works of God was transformed by our Lord into a work of His to give us Himself and, thereby, grant us life and forgiveness and salvation. That is to say, it brings about what the blood of the lambs in the Old Testament could only hint at: real deliverance from death, freedom from sin, and the judgement of us being righteous and fit for our Father’s Kingdom.

                This is an important thing, this blood of Jesus. It was shed to forgive our sins. It is drunk to give us our Lord and all His benefits. Without this blood, we would still be under the rule of death and sin. With it, we are righteous, holy, and free of such things.

                So, then, since the blood shed for forgiveness and righteousness isn’t ours, nor has it ever been, all that remains for us to do is simply have faith, that is, trust and believe our Lord Jesus. Believe that He has done everything we need to be saved. Trust that His blood is for our benefit. As Luther reminds us in the Catechism, we simply need to trust in these words, “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” As he further notes, the “for you” requires us to believe. There is no shedding of blood in the abstract. Specific things have their blood shed. And, in a similar manner, specific people benefit from it. We do not eat steak in the abstract, we have real steaks. Similarly, we receive not a spiritualized or abstract body and blood, but the real, true, everlasting body and blood of our Lord Jesus, given into death for us.

                Blood has long been used to redeem and save God’s people. Even though killing lambs for temple sacrifice or Passover dinner has long since passed away for us because Jesus shed His blood once and for all, we must not fall into the error of thinking that blood has nothing to do with it anymore. The blood of our Lord covers our sins, washes us clean, makes us righteous, forgives us, and gives us everlasting salvation.

 

In the holy Name of + Jesus. Amen.

 

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


[1] English Standard Version

[2] The Exodus took place in1446 BC

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