This sermon was preached at the Opening Divine Service at the 2016 Bread of Life Higher Things® conferences.
Rev. George F. Borghardt
In the Name of Jesus. Amen. “Take the Lamb. Kill the Lamb. Eat the Lamb. Put the Lamb’s blood on the doorpost. Remember the Sacrifice. Be saved by Me.” It is the Lord’s Passover! You see, the thing you most need to fear in this life isn’t the devil or the world. No, be scared of God. God is the One from whom you need to be saved!
The Lord God isn’t a cuddly teddy bear or an old Santa-Claus-like-Grandpa God. He’s not a best friend God (“BFG”) or the type of God that you Snapchat with or whatever new-fangled social media thing that you young whippersnappers play with on your phones. No, the Lord God is the destroyer of sin and sinners. He’s the unstoppable force and the immovable object who is not just “salty” about sin, He’s burning with hell-hot anger and hatred against it and those who sin. He’s a jealous God, visiting the sins on the third and fourth generation of those who hate Him.
Think about that the next time you dismiss your sins as a nothing or do something because you think that God will just forgive you afterwards. The fires of hell say that the Lord God isn’t manipulated like that.
But you won’t see that angry God in the Passover Lamb! For the Lord God launches Himself on the night of the Passover at the Egyptians to open a can of Old Testament judgment on every male firstborn both man and beast who gets in the way of His being your God.
Take the Lamb—”a pure one” He says. Don’t get “chintzy” with the God of Israel and pick out a three-legged lamb or one with spots. It must be a perfect lamb, a spotless lamb. Kill the Lamb at twilight. Take the Lamb’s blood and paint it on the door post with a hyssop branch.
Then, eat all of the Lamb. Consume it with bitter herbs, remembering your suffering. Have shoes on your feet, clothes tucked in, staff in hand, and ready to go. When the Lord arrives He’s going to save you. For when the Lord God saw the lambs’ blood on the doorposts of the children of Israel’s houses, He passed over their homes. They were saved from His wrath, saved from Him.
“Take the Lamb. Kill the Lamb. Eat the Lamb. Remember the Blood on the doorpost. You were once slaves and I freed you.”
And so, the children of Israel celebrated the Lord’s Passover every year until…Good Friday. On the night when He was betrayed Jesus saves you from the wrath of the Father for your slavery to sin.
God Himself chooses His own Passover Lamb: one Lamb for everyone, for all time—a perfect Lamb, without blemish or spot. He chooses Jesus.
The Lord God Himself is the Passover Lamb on this night—slain at twilight. God only punishes one Firstborn for you: All the anger and hatred that God has for every sin for all time fell upon His Son, His only-begotten, Jesus on the Cross. Jesus died. You live.
Here our true Paschal Lamb we see,
Whom God so freely gave us;
He died on the accursed tree—
So strong His love—to save us.
– Christ Jesus Lay in Death’s Strong Bands, LSB 458:5
And the God who punishes, whose anger consumes and burns hot like the sun, passes over punishing you. Jesus dies—His blood covering you in Holy Baptism. You live and love in Him, blessed to the thousandth generation. By grace, received—that is eaten—by faith alone.
Take, eat the Body of the slain Lamb of God. Eat the Lamb’s Body. Be forgiven. Receive His sacrifice in the Bread of Life. Take, drink the cup. Receive His Blood shed on the Cross. Drink the Blood of the Lamb and be forgiven.
That’s how you “Do this in remembrance of Me!” You eat His Body! You drink His Blood! You receive His Calvary-sacrifice. “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the Passover Lamb’s death until He comes again.”
And the Children of Israel left plundering Egypt—with the grieving Egyptians throwing their valuables at them in hopes that the Israelites would stay gone forever and take their firstborn-slaughtering God with them.
And you, today, feasting on the Body and Blood of God’s slaughtered and raised-from-the-dead-First-Born Son plunder all your enemies, too. Death, Satan, Hell…these can no more harm you than they can harm Christ. They are stingless and toothless against Christ. So, they are stingless and toothless against you. For you have already been marked: doorpost, lintel, forehead, heart, in the waters of Holy Baptism.
See, His blood now marks our door;
Faith points to it; death passes o’er.
And Satan cannot harm us. Alleluia! – LSB 458:5
And God can’t harm you either. In the Passover Lamb, He now calls you “His child.” And in the Body and Blood of Jesus, you call Him your “Heavenly Father.” No more wrath. No more judgment. No more hell. Only forgiveness, eternal life, and love for those around you.
For this is the Lord’s Passover: His Body broken for you and His Blood shed on the Cross for you, for the forgiveness of your sins. Receive it. Eat Jesus’ sacrifice. Be forgiven. Be saved.
“And the Body and Blood of your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will strengthen and keep you steadfast in the One True Faith unto life everlasting. Depart in peace!” In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
Rev. George F. Borghardt is Senior Pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in McHenry, IL. He also serves as President on the Higher Things Board of Directors.