A Sermon by Rev. Gordon Longakit
Parish Pastor, Emmanuel Lutheran Church
Banga, South Cotabato, and President of Mindanao District
April 9, 2020 | Holy (Maundy) Thursday
God’s Grace, Mercy, and Peace to all of us in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Last Tuesday night, news from CNN informed us of the continued rate of identified persons who had become positive with COVID-19, the rate of those who recovered from the illness and of those who lost their lives because of the Pandemic. One medical guest being interviewed during the news suggests that the ‘plasma’ from the blood of those who had recovered from the illness must have developed antibodies that might be a way to counteract the effect of the COVID-19. If this ‘plasma’ is applied to those who are infected with the virus, these possibly might help develop their own antibodies and therefore boost their own immunity against the virus. This was suggested because this was done during the time of Ebola virus crisis. It is in the components of the blood that saves a number of people from being affected by the Ebola and other viruses.
Our text this Holy Thursday is based on our Epistle from the Book of Hebrews 9:11-22 that speaks to us about the blood offered in the Old Covenant and the Blood of Christ in the New Covenant that is offered to God for you and me.
During the Old Covenant, God has established a Levitical Priesthood to serve him in His Tabernacle day and night. God had commanded these Levitical Priesthood to offer and sacrifice animals as a substitute for the life of the person. In other words, whenever a person young and old, great and small sin, the prescribed animals clean and without defect, sacrificially suffered the punishment of that person who have committed sins against God and dies as substitute for the life of that person. In the Old Covenant rituals and ceremonies, the blood of the animals; goats and calves were carefully separated from their flesh, collected and used in accordance with God’s command. This blood is carried by the High Priest on “Yom Kippur” that is, the Day of Atonement, entering the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle and approach the Ark of the Covenant, in God’s Mercy Seat where the 2 golden Cherubims at the two ends of the cover of the Ark of the Covenant, where their wings spread above, overshadowing the Mercy Seat with their faces towards the Mercy Seat, there the half-part of the blood of the sacrificed animals were sprinkled and the other half were also sprinkled on the people of Israel for the forgiveness of their sins and to sanctify them before the Lord. This was continuously done year after year.
Dr. Martin Luther in his Luther’s Works (LW 35:237-38) said,
“the appointment of the priesthood, with the statues and Laws according to which the priests are to act and to teach people,… is instituted only because of sin, to disclose sin to the people and to make atonement before God so that its entire function is to deal with sin and sinners.”
Application: Even today, we still have to deal with our sins and of those who remain their lives to be slaves and controlled by sin. Our God still continues to deal with our sins and all sinners like you and me. This letter to the Hebrews were inspired by the Spirit to let Jewish Christians who have come to faith be instructed not to fall into the temptation of deserting Christ and His Gospel, or by adding something by means of any rituals and ceremonies from the old covenant to Christ’s Gospel.
And so with us today, many of those who has called themselves as Christians are tempted to do the same, to live or living as baptized pagans. That is why our pastors need to remind, correct, rebuke and exhort us when we are not living in accordance to the Gospel of Christ.
If we were still in the time of Moses and Aaron, and if we were Jews, a lot of goats, lambs and calves are again will be slaughtered for the forgiveness of our sins, “for without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness” (v.22). But still those sacrifices and offerings would not be able to cleanse our guilty consciences before God!
But still many of the people even today have a self-made sacrifices and fool themselves to believe in what they are doing is right as long as they have done it with all sincerity from their hearts, and to them these are not enough. They don’t care about the Gospel of the Lord.
But God cares! God is not satisfied with sacrifices and burnt offerings, or any other modern offerings for the forgiveness of our sins! Therefore, “Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.” (Hebrews 10:5-7).
By these words, God’s Son, true God and true human, shed His own blood for the forgiveness of all our sins on the cross of Calvary.
When Christ came, He came as High Priest of the good things that are already here (v.11), who meets our needs “one who is holy, innocent, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.” (Hebrews 7:26)
Unlike other Old Testament High Priests, who had to bring daily offerings to God, Jesus sacrificed himself – the perfect substitute – Man’s death for man’s life, once and for all time! But before His death, “While they were eating with His disciples, Jesus took a loaf of bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and handed it to the disciples, saying,
“Take this and eat it. This is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, because this is my blood of the new covenant that is being poured out for many people for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:26-28)
As the Mediator of the New Covenant – Jesus made His last Will and Testament to be in effect when He died on the cross for you and me. Christ through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanses our consciences from acts that leads to death so that we may serve the living God!
The blood of Christ began to splattered where He was tortured like a criminal, was punished without leniency and mercy. That blood of Christ continued to drop, scattered and sprinkled in the land of Jerusalem as the lashes and whips strikes the Lord’s flesh continuously on His way to the mount of Calvary, where He offered himself as the Lamb to be sacrificed, His life for the forgiveness of the lives of all men, in all generation, for our salvation and for our eternal life. After His death, on the third day He rose from the dead, ascended to heaven “sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord.” (Hebrews 8:1b)
Now, Jesus, our Great High Priest, our Intercessor, our Savior and Lord dwells forever in His heavenly sanctuary, and He is still with us as He promised,
“I will be with you always unto the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b)
As we continue to give to Him the praise and honor during our worship, He also continue to give us His true body and true blood in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. This is the true body and true blood of the new covenant that was shed for the forgiveness of all our sins. Every time we partake His true body and His true blood, we proclaim the Lord’s sacrificial death that avails forgiveness of our sins, gave us salvation and eternal life. And so whenever an opportunity for us is given, we celebrate and do this in the remembrance of Him who loved us very much and gave himself for us.
The Old Covenant of the Lord with His people, Moses told the people of Israel by saying, “This is the blood of the Covenant which God has commanded you to keep.” But God found fault with the people and said, “…they were not faithful to the covenant I made with them, and so I paid no attention to them.” (Hebrews 8:9b)
Therefore God declares to make a new Covenant with the house of Israel. In these lasts days, by sending His only begotten Son, Jesus, the anointed One of God, the Christ, who instituted a New Covenant between God and man, Jesus took a cup and when He had given thanks He gave it to them saying “drink of it all, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
As the Old Covenant was established by blood, so Christ’s blood established the New Covenant. This is the same blood Jesus shed on the cross, the same blood that we received during the Holy Communion.
By His blood we are forgiven, by His blood we are cleansed, by His blood we are restored back to be God’s people.
Our Old Testament reading in Exodus 2:14, says that Moses, Aaron, and 70 elders of Israel had fellowship with God. We too, are now in fellowship with the same God together with all the angels and archangels and with all the companies of heaven in giving laud and honor magnifying the name of the Lord when we are in our worship and when partaking the Lord’s Supper. That is why we need to examine ourselves before partaking the Lord’s Supper, “For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgement on himself.” (1 Corinthians 11:29)
Therefore, my fellow brethren in the Lord, take heart, be strong in the Lord, remain steadfast in His Word and Sacrament, for even in these last days where we live, let us trust the Lord and remain faithful to Him, even in the midst of these situation where we cannot come together and gather for worship, yet our hearts and minds worship Him in Spirit and Truth. Let us also put our trust, our hope in our God by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, for we know that nothing under the sun is hidden before our Lord God Almighty.
All of these things are under His permission and under His control. His blood can still heal and cleanse our sin-sick world. His blood can still mend our broken hearts and souls and it is His blood that can still give us access to the very throne of God. All of these are possible only by the blood of Christ Jesus our Lord given and shed for you and me.
May the Peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.