Paul·s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Monroe, Michigan New Hope Evangelical Lutheran Church, Toledo, Ohio April 21st, 2011

Maundy Thursday Rev. Christopher D. White Exodus 12:1-13

´WE HAVE SEEN HIS GLORY: THE PASSOVER LAMBµ Death was coming...that night! Over a period of a number of months, the waters of the Nile turned into blood, frogs from the Nile came up into the homes and bedrooms of the Egyptians, gnats rose up from the dust and stung the people in painful ways, flies buzzed in their ears, landed on their food, brought disease into Egypt, the livestock died, boils and sores fell on man and beast, hail crushed the crops, including any man or beast that was outside, locusts devoured whatever the hail didn·t destroy, the sun stopped shining, and now, the ultimate plague ² death! And it was coming that night! How terrifying. What would you do if you were in Goshen that night? What would your demeanor be? I imagine that I, myself, would be scurrying around trying to make all the necessary preparations, and I·m sure that many of you would be doing the same. Death was coming! It was about to enter into the lives and homes of the Egyptians, producing an outcry such as the country had never heard before and has never heard since, because, as chapter 12:30 tells us: ´There was not a house (in Egypt) where someone was not dead.µ Death was coming. And though, undoubtedly afraid to a certain point, having seen the power of their Almighty God before in the previous 9 plagues, what did Israel do? She did as the Lord commanded ² she ate a meal! They sat down in their homes and ate with their brethren, with their families, a meal that was much more than just filling for the belly. It served as a spiritual lesson for God·s people as they prepared to be rescued from slavery in Egypt. The first element of teaching was the fact that God graciously provided a way for his people to escape death through death. Something was going to die in the homes of God·s people that terrible night of the final plague. But for them, it wasn·t going to be their firstborn sons, like it would be in the homes of the Egyptians. It was the various lambs that were chosen that lost their lives ² so that their blood and death would save all who were inside the home. ´Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the 10th day of this month, every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers· houses, a lamb for the household.µ That idea of substitution finds its realization in Christ Jesus. Someone had to die for sin. Someone had to be condemned for sin. But instead of unleashing his hand of judgment upon us, the ones who are truly deserving, our gracious God provided his Son to take our place. ´God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him, we might have the righteousness of God.µ Paul said to the Romans: ´There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.µ Death was coming. The night of death was upon God·s people, and he provided an escape through the lamb. Something had to die, but it wasn·t going to be them! It was the substitute! What a marvelous picture of Christ, and a source of comfort for us, who escape the punishment of sin and hell because someone else was given over to death in our stead, the Lord Jesus. The picture clarifies in verses 5 and 7 and then verse 13, the highlight of this entire section: 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats...7 ´Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.µ And then verse 13: ´13 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.µ That·s how God was going to provide an escape for his people from the night of death! Instead of the guilty dying, death would come upon the innocent, unblemished lamb. Its blood, splattered, smeared

on the doorframes of the family·s home signified that a family of faith lived there, and that they trusted the promise of their gracious Lord to spare them by accepted the lamb·s death as the substitute for their own firstborn. The bottom line is that the lamb·s blood saved them from death. The lamb saved them. And the lamb that saved them from death, also was given to them in the Passover meal, where they ate that which was given for their salvation. Oh, they saw Christ·s glory! They saw it in such vivid ways that night, when death was all around them, when they heard the cries of the Egyptians. For, where death befell the unbelievers, death passed over the homes of God·s faithful children, because God promised to save them from death through the blood of the unblemished lamb. Of all the portraits of Christ that we have seen this Lenten season, this one might be the most poignant of them all, as the glory of Christ·s sacrifice on the cross shines upon the Passover feast and celebration, and gives meaning to our liturgical rites in the New Testament era. Death is coming! I don·t think we need to mince words about that. The Scriptures are crystal clear that the wages of sin is death, and every day that we wake up, there are new names to be discovered in the obituary section of the paper; some we know, some we don·t. There are people who are alive today who have absolutely no clue that tonight is the night when their bodies will be struck down in death. It·s coming! Be sure of it. Let·s not think ourselves invincible. And what has God commanded us to do while we wait its arrival? Eat! Feast on the Passover Lamb ² and be covered in his blood. For that is how our God has provided for us escape from eternal death; through the Passover Lamb, Jesus. That·s how he has secured our freedom, our deliverance from the bondage of sin and the terrors of hell ² through the Passover Lamb, whose innocent blood covers us, whose death causes death to pass over us, the guilty, so that we may have life through his death! For all who believe have had the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God, smeared upon their hearts, which covers our sins and makes us God·s holy people. And, as if that were not enough, what do we have the opportunity to do here tonight, and often in our worship life? Eat at the divine feast ² to feast upon the body and blood of our Savior Jesus Christ in, with and under the bread and wine. The reception of the Holy Sacrament is not something to take for granted, as if it·s just something that we do as Lutherans because we·ve always done it. This is a meal of epic proportions, not because it fills the stomach up so much, but because it fills our souls. The Passover Lamb Jesus offers himself to us in this very special way so that we can know, this moment, that through his suffering and death on the cross, we have life in his name and have no reason to fear death·s dark shadow. He gives us himself in the supper to bestow on us what we could never give ourselves: pardon from sin, the peace of forgiveness, and preparedness in strength of saving faith for our dying day. Death is coming! That·s what the Israelites heard from Moses and Aaron on that fateful night. Death is coming ² be prepared! And ultimately in their Passover preparations, what they saw and experienced was the glory of Jesus; for with the death of the substitute and the application of its blood upon the family·s home, they were safe from death. How magnified is the glory of Jesus that has been revealed to us in its fullness. No longer do we fear death·s dark shadow. For death has been conquered by the death of the Lamb, giving us life eternal. And while we await that great deliverance from evil, for which we pray in the Lord·s Prayer, we eat! For Jesus commands us: ´Take and eat; take and drink; This is my body....this is my blood...given for you for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in remembrance of me.µ Eat! Feast! For tonight death passes over you! Amen.

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