Soli Deo Gloria. Amen.
Invocation: In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
1. As human beings, one thing we all share is blood. No matter who you are or where you live; no matter how old or young you happen to be, blood flows through your veins. Blood gives you life. In Leviticus, God says,
For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life.
Without blood, we cannot live.
2. The blood that gives us life also binds us to one another. We call our families our "own flesh and blood." We are bound together by the bond of shared blood. As Christians, we are also bound together by a bond of shared blood. For it is the blood of Christ that binds us together into the sacred, holy family called the Church. The writer of Hebrews puts it this way:
Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. He says, "I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises." And again, "I will put my trust in him." And again he says, "Here am I, and the children God has given me."
Christ who makes us holy, and we who are made holy by Christ are all brothers and sisters because we share the same blood.
3. What does it mean that we share the the same blood with Christ? It means that although Christ is truly and wholly, God, he is also truly a man, fully human. He was born the same way we were. He has a body and soul, eyes, ears and members, reason and senses just like we do. It means that Jesus grew up and matured just like we do. While on earth, Jesus ate and drank, slept and woke in a daily routine, just like we do. When we say we share the blood of Christ, we say that even now, fully human blood flows through Christ's veins, just like blood is flowing through our veins this very instant.
4. In his incarnation, Jesus took up our common flesh and blood for a reason.
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil--and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants. For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.
5. Why do we need this blood-bought atonement? this forgiveness written in blood? Because unlike Jesus, our blood is degraded. Our blood is diseased with sin. We not only share the blood of Jesus, we also share the sinful blood of Adam. Through countless generations, Adam has passed down the blood-borne illness called Sin. He has passed it down to us through our own fathers. Together with Adam then, we stand guilty of eating the forbidden fruit. Together with Cain, we stand guilty of shedding the blood of Abel as he sacrificed to God. Together with King David, we stand guilty of spilling the blood of Uriah due to the lust of our flesh. We, You and I, stand guilty of demanding blood for ills done to us by others. We stand accused and accursed by the Law of God, guilty of the blood of those we love and those we hate; guilty even of the blood of Christ; for every time we've secretly wished someone harm or even death, we have expressed the reality that flows through our veins: in our very blood lie the seeds of death and damnation because we share the same blood as our common ancestor Adam.
6. In our own blood flows the source of the fear of death that haunts us all; and by this fear the devil would hold us captive to the sinful condition of our blood. By this fear the devil would enslave us to our sinful state and doom us to an eternity of suffering and torment. But in his divine goodness, Christ has taken on our flesh and blood in order to destroy the devil. Christ has taken on our flesh and blood to release us from our fear. Christ has taken on our flesh and blood in order to remove the guilt that condemns us. Christ has seen fit to become like us in every way so that, as our merciful and faithful high priest, he might make atonement for our sins, and purify the sinful blood that flows through our veins.
7. Here, it is important to remember that Jesus' blood is just like our blood--in every way but one. His blood is blissfully free from the fear of death that plagues us. His blood is free from the scourge of sin. Sinless Son of God that he is, Jesus' blood cleanses our blood from sin and frees us from our fear of death. Jesus' blood brings brings forgiveness for all our sins. Jesus' blood brings us the glories of heaven and life that has no end. To do such great things, Jesus' blood had to be spilled. So we hear in our reading for tonight,
In bringing may sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.
Jesus' blood shed on the altar of the cross makes atonement for our sins, just as God says in Leviticus 17: It is HIS blood that makes atonement for one's life. It is Jesus' blood that makes atonement for your life and mine. It is Jesus' blood that makes us holy. This is the blood that we share as brothers and sisters of Christ.
8. This Lenten season, we will hear much about the blood of Jesus. Every Wednesday we will sing the hymn to his precious blood, "Glory be to Jesus." We will meditate on Christ's blood. We will sing in praise of Christ's blood. We will pray for the forgiveness that is in Christ's blood, because it is his blood that cleanses us from the Sin we have inherited from Adam. By Christ's blood we are bound to him in a bond of perfection and holiness. By Christ's blood, we are bound to one another in a bond of peace and unity. By Christ's blood we are bound together in the family that is the one, holy, Christian and Apostolic Church. By Christ's blood we are rescued from the fear-mongering of the devil and destined for eternal glory.
9. During this season of Lent though, we think not so much of our coming glory, but we meditate on Christ and the shedding of his blood for our sake. We focus on Christ's atoning work of shedding his blood on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins, and we keep the season of Lent in humble contrition and reflection. We turn in true repentance to Christ and his blood, and there we find the medicine that cures our blood-borne disease of Sin. In the blood of Jesus, we find release from our captivity to the fear of death. In the blood of Jesus, we find the bond that binds us together with him and with one another in the promise of eternal life. So with quiet thankfulness and heartfelt praise, we give thanks for the shared blood that flows through our veins. We give thanks that Christ has seen fit to share our blood; to shed his blood; to destroy the devil and call us his brothers and sisters. In Christ's name. Amen.
Blessing: The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Rev. Keith R. Weise
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