In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
So Jerusalem swelled. Its pop doubled, maybe even tripled or quadrupled, with pilgrims coming to this feast. Its inns overflowed, every nook and cranny of every house filled to the brim with relatives. The banquet halls and extra rooms rented well in advance for the meal that made them part of God’s deliverance.
And so too Our Lord came. This year, this last time, to eat His final meal before His death. This time He comes to Jerusalem as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. As the true Passover lamb whose death causes death to pass over you. This lamb’s blood is not wiped on the two doorposts and lintel of your house, but poured down your throat, marking you as holy, marking you as His own.
As a lamb led to the slaughter, and sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. His mouth stayed closed before the crowds that proclaimed Him the Son of David, their King, come to save them. His mouth stayed closed before the Roman governor who held the power to slaughter Him or set Him free. His mouth stayed closed before the Jewish leaders who shouted for His death. The true lamb of God goes silently to be slain. Silently to purchase you for Himself, to rescue and set you free from the clutches of death.
Keep that image of the silent lamb in your mind as we replay those events. Our Lord getting on His donkey. Silent. Our Lord setting His eyes toward Jerusalem. Silent. The disciples leading the donkey. The festival crowds see Him, realize who He is, Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to them by signs and miracles, a man whose origins match that of the Messiah, who teaches the Word of God with power, setting the captive soul free from the tyranny of guilt and shame. Some begin to shout in praise of Him. It catches on and in unison they proclaim Him to be their long awaited Messiah who has come to save them. He remains silent. Resolute. His face set like flint. His gaze steely towards some far off goal. The cross. Palm branches waving, people joyfully shouting, dancing and singing. He is silent. The donkey steadily carrying Him toward His destiny. Silent as He goes before His shearers who will strip Him naked. Silent as He goes before His executioners who will spill His lifeblood.
Agnus Dei. Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Hosanna. Save us now. Save us from the oppression of sin, save us from this wicked world, from an everlasting death. Hosanna.
In the Sanctus we echo the words of the crowds on Palm Sunday. We anticipate Our God’s coming to save us as He descends out of the heavens bringing His heavenly throne room with Him in His Holy Supper where we remember, and are part of His Last Supper where He imparted to His disciples His own flesh and blood to be sacrificed the next day. This event we call the Sacrament of Altar or Holy Communion is a profound, time warping miracle. In it we are taken back to that upper room 2000 years ago, where an alive Jesus gives His body and blood not yet slain. In it the heavenly throne room comes to earth. The fabric of space and time bend around this moment putting it in the centre of existence as God takes us out of time, into His presence, Into the eternal "Now," (Hebrews 3:12-15) giving us the best of His gifts, His own Son’s life for us.
This lamb, this man, this sacrifice is powerful. It lies at the centre of the universe and is the heart of God’s plans for everything and everyone.
And in response we sing what John the Baptist first proclaimed of his cousin, “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, have mercy on us.” Have mercy by taking our sins away. Like the scapegoat of old in the days of Israel’s wilderness wandering. That scapegoat yearly taken outside the camp with the sins of the people placed on it by the laying on of hands of high priest, and then sent out into wilderness to die there, removing the sins from the people. So you take the worlds’ sins away from your people outside the city to Calvary putting them to death on the cross.
Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Have mercy on us like the Passover Lamb whose blood caused the angel of death to pass over your people and then lead them out of slavery, setting your people free from death and slavery. So set us free from our sin and everlasting death that it earns.
Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace, grant us peace. We sing this
just after the Pastor holds up that Lamb’s body and blood before his face saying to you, “The peace of the Lord be with you always.” We respond, “Amen. It is true.” Then we come to get that peace, to have it put in our mouths and poured down our throats. For when this Lamb’s holy, precious blood comes into us it imparts peace with your own conscience, peace with God, freedom from God’s enmity with our sin, freedom from your conscience’s accusations. Free. No longer slaves. Even though you sin much daily. Yet this blood shouts out a better word to our consciences and to God our Father than the blood of our many sins which stains our hands. For this blood has come into us. It has made us whiter than snow. It is the freedom of conscience that Lady MacBeth needed to get the stain of her sins off her hands. It is the forgiveness that Judas needed to keep Him from the despair which caused him to take His own life for His betrayal of Jesus. It is yours in this supper of bread and wine, body and blood.
It is God's love letter written to you in the blood of His Son. It is your peace.
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON