Today is communion in our Church, so we will bethat Jesus was obedient to His Father, even unto death, death on a cross.
At the famous dinner Jesus held for His disciples before He was crucified, we of course call it the last Supper. This Supper took place on a Jewish
holiday called Passover, the day the Jews celebrated escaping judgements of God in Egypt during the days of Moses. Do you remember the plagues God brought about in Egypt because Pharaoh chose not to let His people go.
God's judgement passed over the Israelites because they sprinkled the blood of a lamb over the doorway of each of their homes as Moses instructed them.
The passover holiday actually originated as a prophetic act intended to prepare the world for the Lamb of God, whose blood was applied to the door posts of all our hearts.
While the disciples were having dinner with Jesus, He explained that He was the Lamb of God who would die for the sins of the world. Jesus death would fulfil the harsh Old Covenant, which said that the person who sins must die. Ezekiel 18:20.
Jesus blood inaugurated a New Covenant. Like the Passover in the days of Moses, this New Covenant would cause God to relate to the world through the sacrificial blood that is the blood of the Lamb of God. No longer would God relate to the world as He had Pharaoh & Egypt. Instead, Jesus became the door of destiny covered by the blood of a sinless lamb which would cause the wrath of God to "pass over" the world.
Let me explain it this way.
How would God free His people whom He loves so much from their self imposed bondage to the law? How could He extend mercy to those who are guilty, without violating justice?
Theses questions make it clear that God has challenge on His hands. He had to create justice for all of humankind so that He could extend mercy. Remember God sits on the mercy seat, but the foundation of His throne is righteousness & Justice Psalm 89:14 & Hebrews 9:5 Here is a story that demonstrates His predicament & His profound solution.
Late on foggy night, a violent man lurked in the streets of a sleepy neighbourhood. He peered at a beautiful home surrounded by a wooded forest. The house was at the end of a long street which was in darkness because of a moonless sky & no street lights. Quietly he approached the front door, taking hold of the door he picked the lock quickly.
He was clothed in black & wore a ski mask, he crept through the front room where a wedding dress lay on the floor. Shinning his torch down the hall he noticed a trail of shed shoes & more clothing littering the floor towards the master bedroom. He listened to make sure the newly weds were sound asleep.
Slowly the masked intruder made his way to the dressing table, where he spied the brides beautiful engagement ring. As he reached to take it, the young bride woke up. Seeing the silhouette of the masked man beside her, she sat up confused & startled began to scream. The robber covered her mouth to silence her, then pulled out a knife, she fought back as her husband still half asleep jumped out of bed.
Desperate to safe his wife, the young groom grabbed the intruder by the head trying to dislodge the knife from his hand. Freeing herself, the bride kept screaming for help as her husband fought to subdue the attacker. Suddenly she went silent & limp falling onto the bed, blood pooling out under her.
The robber wrestled his opponent to the floor, the husband was able to dislodge the knife as they fought on the floor. When the robber jumped up to flee, the desperate young man grabbed him from behind & pulled his ski mask off. Time seem to stand still as the men glared at one another. The attacker then sprinted towards a plate glass window, jumped through it shattering it. The husband turned back to his wife, but it was too late. Her lifeless body lay slumped across the bed.
It was months latter when the young husband met his wife’s murderer in court. His heart yearned for justice, both for his bride & his own pain. But as the arraignment began, something about the process seemed to go terribly wrong.
The judge turned to the defendant & said, "Henry Hamstead, your father & I were best friends & room mates in collage. He used to brag about you when you were a little boy. I loved your dad. You are free to go."
Outraged the young husband jumped up & began shouting in protest, "Your Honour, are you serious? That man killed my bride! He took the love of my life. You can't just let him go free. ''
The judge replied that he was in charge & that he chose to be merciful to this man.
The young man said "Yes your Honour, but aren't you also just?'' he demanded."Doesn’t justice matter to you? Or don't you have any integrity?"
While the judge hesitated over his dilemma, apparently waging war in his mind between justice & mercy, there was a sudden commotion in the courtroom as an elderly woman forced her way to the stand.
"Your Honour," said the woman through her tears ''Henry is my son & I choose to offer my life up for his. Take my life & let him go.''
The merciful judge turned to the magistrate & whispered in his ear. A few tense moments passed as the magistrate pulled out a thick book marked with an "H" off a large bookcase that covered an entire wall. All the books were identified with letters of the alphabet, which were in order on the shelves from "A to Z". The magistrate put on his glasses & searched through the book. Finally he looked up with grief on his face & proclaimed, "Mrs Hamstead, I have found your name in the Book of Fugitives. You can't die for your son because you are also wanted for crimes punishable by death.''
The courtroom was stunned as the woman cried out for mercy for her only son, pleading for his life.
"He was stealing to try to keep the bank from foreclosing on my house!'' she wailed. ''It was an accident he didn't mean to kill the girl.''
But the constable ushered her out of the courtroom in handcuffs.
A moment later, a young man in his thirties stood up at the back of the room.
"Your Honour," he shouted, his voice quivering, ''I choose to die for Henry!"
Shocked exclamations filled the courtroom.
"Your name?" the magistrate demanded.
''My name is Jacob," the young man replied.
His eyes met those of the magistrate & Judge, & they stared intently at each other.
Suddenly the expression on the faces of the Judge & magistrate changed. They seemed to recognise something about the young man. The Magistrate turned to the book shelf & finding the book marked "J", he began to turn the pages nervously. The courtroom grew silent as the Magistrate looked up in amazement.
"His name is not listed in the Book of Fugitives, Your Honour," the Magistrate said. "I don't understand it! We are all guilty somehow..."
Seeming to fear what this could mean for the brave young man who had offered himself up as a sacrifice for the murderer hung his head & stared at the floor, not wanting to meet Jacob's eyes.
"If he is not wanted for any crimes," the judge declared, "then no one can refuse to let this innocent man pay the price of this guilty man."
The young groom jumped to his feet & protested again, "Your Honour, how can he take the killer's place when this man is guilty?"
"I had the magistrate check" the judge explained, "& even you & your wife are listed in the Book of Fugitives, wanted for crimes punishable by death. You are no less guilty then Henry here. Yet something is different about this man, Jacob, whose sacrifice will preserve the cause of justice. He is the only one I have ever met who can take the place of a guilty man & justice will be served through the innocent so that mercy can be extended to the guilty."
This imaginative story illustrates how Jesus' death on the cross changed the conditions of all humankind standing before the judge of heaven. Jesus was innocent; He never sinned & therefore deserved to live. But He chose to take our place.
Each one of us are fugitives, guilty of sins punishable by death. But the judgement that provoked the wrath of God was poured out on Jesus when He died for the sins of the world. With the cause of justice having been fulfilled by His Son's blood, the Judge of heaven is free to extend mercy to all sinners without being crooked or corrupt.
Paul said it was best when he wrote For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.2 Cor 5:21.
In the book of Romans Paul wrote that He (Jesus) was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God. Rom 4:25 & in Rom 5:9 And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.
The point is that not that God can judge sin in the life of a sinner; He is God & can do whatever He wants. The point is simply that He is not obligated to punish sin to create justice on Cavalry’s cross. God has now the right to release everyone from sin without being an unjust judge.
The blood of Jesus creates a new agreement between God & mankind, which reconciles the world to our Creator once & for all. Luke records the last Supper like this LK 22:19-20.
He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.
Acknowledgements Kris Vallotton.