Tuesday, April 02, 2024

Sermon: Wittenberg Academy – Tuesday after Easter, 2024

2 Apr 2024

Text: Heb 10:1-18

In the name of + Jesus.  Amen.

Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

The old covenant had “but a shadow of the good things to come.”  Its rituals were not “the true form of these realities.” The sacrifices of the Old Testament did not have the power to “make perfect” those who participated in them.  The lambs were tokens of the Lamb.  The blood of beasts was a token of the blood of Christ.  For as the author of Hebrews puts it bluntly, “It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”  But these tokens were signs of a promise – the promise fulfilled by Jesus in His crucifixion: the actual sacrifice that these shadows and tokens pointed to.

Many Christians claim the old covenant is still in force with the biological children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  There are Christians who claim that we should continue to keep the Jewish Sabbath and rites like Passover.  Some Christians annually butcher the Lord’s Supper in the form of an unhistorical Seder meal.  Just as in the days of St. Paul, there are Christians who want to return to the slavery of the old covenant with dietary rules and rituals that were temporary pointers to the eternal reality of our great High Priest and His once-for-all sacrifice.  But what does the Holy Spirit teach us through the Scripture in this Letter we call Hebrews?  “He does away with the first in order to establish the second.” 

God has not abandoned the Jews, nor has he replaced them.  But He has replaced the old covenant, and in the new covenant, He invites all nationalities, Jews and Gentiles alike, to be His chosen people!  For the fulfillment of every aspect of the old covenant has come.  For our Lord Jesus Christ “offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins,” and He “sat down at the right hand of God.” 

The revelation of God is not only for people of one ancestry.  But through that one nation, just as He promised, through the “Seed” of Abraham – God has blessed all peoples of the earth (Gen 22:18).  The Law is no longer limited to stone tablets in an ark in a temple under the stewardship of one nation.  Rather, quoting Jeremiah (31:33), “this is the covenant... I will put My laws on their hearts and write them on their minds.”  And what’s more, the new covenant is not only the Law and the realization of our sins, but is also the Gospel, again in fulfillment of Jeremiah (31:34): “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

This new covenant, as Jesus teaches us, is not found in the “blood of beasts on Jewish altars slain,” but rather in the cup of His blood (1 Cor 11:25).  And as the author of Hebrews confesses: “Where there is forgiveness of these [sins and lawless deeds], there is no longer any offering for sin.”  The promise has been fulfilled.  The sacrifice has been offered and accepted.  So we Christians share in the fellowship of His blood, and “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”  So we sing with the hymnist:

But Christ, the heavenly Lamb,
Takes all our sins away;
A sacrifice of nobler name
And richer blood than they.


Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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