Lesson: The Passion of our Lord
Hymns: LSB 431, 433, 878
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Our passion history began with Jesus saying to His disciples, “You know that after two days is the Feast of the Passover, and the Son of Man will be given over to be crucified.”
Yes. Jesus, the Son of Man will be given over to be crucified. He’s the Passover Lamb—the Lamb of God.
But for whom? For whom does He serve as the Passover Lamb?
Let’s consider some people. How about the Chief priest, the scribes, and the elders of the people? Did Jesus die for them? After all, they are the outwardly moral, upstanding “religious” and “spiritual” types who are working behind the scenes to kill Him. They meet in secret places, engage in devout prayer, have intense devotions. But they plot. They plot hard to kill an innocent Man. They are figuring out how to make it look legal.
So did Jesus die for these hypocrites?
Or take a look at Judas Iscariot. He’s one of the Twelve. He is chosen by Jesus to be an Apostle. And look what he’s been up to. He met secretly with the chief priest and captains of the Temple. Why? To get a paycheck—some bounty—for murder. He agrees to hand Jesus over for 30 pieces of silver. He’s ready to betray Jesus for some quick cash. He’s now on Satan’s side.
So did Jesus die for this hypocrite?
And if this isn’t enough, look at the disciples. After Jesus institutes the Lord’s Supper and gives them His Body and His Blood for the forgiveness of their sins, they begin to argue—just like they had done several times earlier. What’s their argument over? Is it over the true interpretation of an obscure prophecy? Is it over which sports team is the best? No. They begin to argue about who among themselves is THE GREATEST! They belittle each other in order for each to declare himself the top dog. What a bunch of self-absorbed men!
So did Jesus die for these sinners?
And what about you? Do you believe that you are better than they are? Do you think you can call yourself more righteous than everyone recorded in the Bible? You are just as much as a sinner as Caiaphas, Judas Iscariot, and the disciples.
When you heard the Passion History tonight, you were part of the story. Just insert your name for Caiaphas, Judas or any of the disciples. You are not curved in on yourself any less than they were. God knows your shameful sins and desires that come from your own heart. He knows every sin you have done wrong. He even knows your sin of every time you object to being called a sinner.
So did Jesus die for the chief priest and his minions? Did Jesus die for Judas Iscariot? Did Jesus die for the disciples?
Did Jesus die for you?
How often do we see columns in the paper offering advice saying, “You shouldn’t have to put up with so-and-so.” How often do we give that advice? “You shouldn’t have to take all that abuse and rejection sitting down. It’s time to get even. Watch out? They will be sorry! What comes around goes around.”
So what does Jesus do? Does He flex His muscles when He gets up, reading to show who’s boss?
No, He gets up and fills up a bowl of water! He stoops down and does the mundane work of a servant. He begins to wash the disciples’ feet.
It seems so wrong. He has been wronged by, well, everyone. And now He begins to wash feet. He doesn’t seek revenge. He doesn’t work to get even. He doesn’t prove to the disciples once and for all that He’s the greatest.
Instead, He takes the place of a servant. He serves. As the Suffering Servant. To give His life as a ransom for many. To pardon them.
Peter objects. “Lord, what in the world are You doing? You can’t do that! We should be washing Your feet!”
You would object, too. It’s scandalizing to watch Jesus be a self-abasing sacrificial Servant. We want Him to be the Sovereign God—the Almighty—the Victor. It’s offensive to our sensibilities to behold Jesus on the cross.
So Jesus replies. “You don’t understand, Peter. But soon you will. After you have failed Me and denied Me three times, then you will understand how completely dependent on Me you are. For I, not you, am the Lamb of God who takes away your sin—and the sin of the world. If you don’t want Me to serve you, you have no part with Me.”
Peter replies, “Lord, not just my feet, but my hands and my head.”
That’s better. That’s faith talking. Peter wants his entire body cleansed. He doesn’t want anything left out. He doesn’t want anything to remain soiled.
But Jesus is washing the disciples’ feet as an object lesson. Don’t brag about being the brightest and the best. Instead, serve others. Now, go into the world and serve them. Don’t become their masters; become their servants. That’s the Christian way.
For that is what Jesus has done. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! He has redeemed you, and lost and condemned person, purchased and won you from ALL SIN by His holy precious blood and innocent suffering and death.
And now, tonight, learn more, like Peter of your need for this Lamb of God who takes away your sin. Jesus still serves. He still takes your sin away. He names you as a guest to His altar.
Don’t pull a Peter. Don’t claim you don’t need Him or what He gives you. Don’t think that you are too much of a sinner to receive Christ’s Body and Blood. And don’t think that you’re too little of a sinner to go to the Lord’s altar.
Jesus tells you. Take eat. Take drink. This is My Body. This is My Blood. Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.
That’s right. The very Body and Blood offered on the cross is what atones you of all your sin. And now He gives it to you as a free gift. No limitations or restrictions. Simply believe His promise. This bread is His Body. This wine is His Blood.
This is truly being The Servant! Talking about service! Divine service! For the forgiveness of your sins.
This is His promise. And because He says that His Body and Blood gives you the forgiveness of sins, this shows that you need this forgiveness. Your life depends on it.
And incredibly, Jesus is here Sunday after Sunday as your Servant. He gives you His Body and Blood. For you. For your forgiveness.
He doesn’t tell you to receive it as if He’s giving you new laws and rules. Instead, He is inviting you to receive His Body and Blood as a gift of grace.
He does this because He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world—the sin of Caiaphas, Judas Iscariot, Peter, the other disciples, mine, and yours.
Unfortunately, some of the elders of the people rejected Jesus and never received the forgiveness Jesus earned for them. Unfortunately, Judas Iscariot never received the Gospel he needed for his salvation. While Jesus died for them, they were not saved.
On the other hand, Peter and the other disciples believed in Jesus. Believing His Word, they went out and preached this Good News of Jesus. They pointed sinners to the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Their sins were taken away and they received eternal life.
The same is for you. You are His, bought with a price. You are redeemed, restored, and forgiven! Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus to life everlasting. Amen