Monday, September 24, 2012

The Lamb of God is Led to the Slaughter

17th Sunday after Pentecost, September 23rd, Year of Our + Lord 2012
Trinity and St. John Lutheran Churches, Sidney and Fairview, Montana
Isaiah 50:4-10 and Mark 9:14-29  - The Lamb of God is Led to the Slaughter
 Vicar Jason Toombs

Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!  The cry of John the Baptist in the wilderness when Jesus came to be baptized by him.  It’s all about the Lamb of God, as it should be.  In the Old Testament, the blood of lambs took away the sins of the people, but the Day of Atonement had to take place every year.  It isn’t so in the New Testament because the blood of the Lamb of God takes away the sin of the world forever.  It doesn’t need to be done every year because it is a perfect, complete, eternal offering for the sin of the people.

Jesus, the Lamb of God, was teaching His disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And when He is killed, after three days He will rise.”  This was the second time that Jesus prophesied His death and resurrection.  But His disciples did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask Him.  They were afraid because this meant that they would lose their teacher, their leader, their friend.  They were afraid because they didn’t know what would happen to them.  We are afraid of much the same things.  We are afraid that we could lose friends if we share our faith.  We are afraid that if we share our sins with the pastor that he might tell them to others.  We are afraid that we could lose our life if we say the wrong thing to the wrong people.

Jesus is not afraid. Jesus is the Lamb of God who was led to the slaughter.  The Prophet Jeremiah prophesied, “But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter.”  The Lamb of God “was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.” 

Jesus was delivered into the hands of men in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He was put on trial, a fixed trial where the outcome was known in advance.  The chief priest was the judge and the Jewish council was the jury.  Jesus was brought before the High Priest and the Jewish council who sought false testimony against Him so they could put Him to death.  There were many false witnesses, but none of their testimony agreed.  Finally, they were able to get two false witnesses to come forward to say, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’”  But Jesus remained silent.  Jesus opened not His mouth in reply.  He was led to the slaughter and remained the gentle Lamb.  He knew what He had to accomplish.  He prayed that His Father’s will be done.  He knew His task.

The Jews wanted to “destroy the tree with its fruit, ... that His name be remembered no more.”  They wanted to cut Jesus off from the face of the earth.  They wanted to be rid of the one who was upsetting the status quo.  They thought that if they could get rid of Jesus they would be able to continue teaching the people that the way to salvation is based on their keeping of a modified law.  If they could keep the traditions of the elders, they would be saved.  They, like us, naturally look inward or to our works for our salvation.  We do things for our neighbor and chalk that up as a good work that is pleasing to God.  Repent of your self-righteousness, for your works are no sacrifice for sin.  Repent and turn to Christ and what He has done for you.  Repent and marvel that even this repentance and turning to Christ is not something that you do, it is something that God does to you. 

The Jews unjustly condemned the Lamb of God.  So did Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor.  The Jews had lost their right to put anyone to death, this could only be done by the Romans.  So the Jews took Jesus to the ruler, Pilate, who had the authority to put someone to death.  They delivered Jesus over to the hands of the Romans.  Jesus was accused of many things by the chief priest and the Jewish council.  He could have told Pilate that He was innocent of everything that was falsely charged against Him.  That’s what we do whether our accusers are right or not.  Desperate to avoid condemnation, we look for any loophole that we can use to justify ourselves and avoid punishment.  Not Jesus.  He stood there for you.  He opened not His mouth.  He remained silent, not offering a defense in His name.  He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.

The Lamb of God was led to the slaughter on the cross.  On the cross, the Lamb of God shed His blood for the sin of the world.  The Lamb of God, the Son of Man, was killed on the cross.  He died on the cross to pay for the sin of the world.  He was pierced for our transgressions, our sins.  Out of the side of the Lamb of God poured forth blood and water.  He was killed on the cross and buried in a tomb.  After three days He rose from the dead.  He paid for the sin of the world on the cross and rose victorious on the third day.  He rose and can never die again.  He ascended into heaven and is the Lamb who had been slain who is blessed, honored, and glorified by all the saints.

There was yet one more trial.  This time it is heavenly trial.  The Lamb of God was led to the slaughter for you.  The Lamb of God takes away your sin on the cross.  His death on the cross was a one time payment for the sin of the world.  The Day of Atonement has been done away with in Christ’s once for all perfect sacrifice.  He paid the price for all of your sins.  His death happened 2000 years ago but it remains a present reality, it continues to pay the price for your sins.  He covers your sin of keeping silent when you have the opportunity to share your faith.  He atones for your sin of arguing with one another.  He forgives you for your sin of trying to be greater than other people.  He purifies you for your sin of trying to be first or the hero of the day.  He took all of your sins upon Himself and paid for them.  And because He paid for them, you are declared innocent before God in  the heavenly courtroom because of His blood and death.

You are declared innocent because of the blood of the Lamb of God.  His blood covers you in your baptism.  You are baptized into His death and raised with Him.  Whenever the devil tries to accuse you because of your sin, point to your baptism and say, “Yes, I have sinned, but I am baptized into Christ. I am covered with His blood.  He paid for my sins on the cross and I am a child of God.”  The blood and water that flowed from the side of Christ are for you.  They are for the forgiveness of your sins.

In your baptism you are born from above, you are born again.  You become a child again.  This time you are born a child of God.  This is the reason that Jesus took a child and put him in the midst of His disciples.  You are just like this child, you are a child of God.  Jesus tells His disciples that anyone who causes a little child who believes in Him to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.  This is a harsh word from Jesus because children need to be taught, loved, cared for, and nurtured.  Children are easily influenced, misled, and corrupted.  When you are feeding your kids, feed them good things.  Feed them the Word of God.  It is the only good thing because it contains the only one who is good.

Jesus took the child in His arms.  His wrapped the child in His arms.  He hugged the child.  He showed His love for all of humanity by His action with this child.  He loves you so much that He came to earth to die for you.  And He didn’t stay dead.  After three days He rose.  He rose for you.  He showed that death and the grave have no power over Him.  He also wraps His arms around you in your baptism.  He clothes you in Himself, you are clothed in His righteousness.  He washes you in His blood and makes you pure and holy.  Whenever God looks at you He sees Christ.  He sees Christ covering you.

Jesus says, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but Him who sent me.”  The church receives the baptized into membership, they receive the child who was baptized into the Trinity.  The church is the bride of Christ because He has made her, He has claimed her as His bride.  She receives not only Christ and His gifts but the entirety of the Trinity.  She receives the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  She receives everything that He gives to her.  She washes her children in the blood of the Lamb of God who was led to the slaughter.  She feeds her children the body and blood that the Lamb of God gave her before He was led to the slaughter on the cross.

Behold, the Lamb of God is led to the slaughter on the cross and takes away the sin of the world.  The Lamb remained silent while He was being persecuted.  He opened not His mouth but patiently endured everything that was set before Him.  So now is the time for opening your mouth and rejoicing, for the Lamb of God has done everything for you.  Amen.

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