“Not a Bread King, a Blood King”
Text: Exodus 24:3-11; John 6:1-15; Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-16
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
Before the Old Testament
reading for today, God had just brought His people out of
So now, the Moses Travel Agency reaches Mt. Sinai. God gives them His Word there, and when Moses tells the people all the words of the Lord and His judgments (which is really a better translation here than rules), the people respond altogether, with one voice, as the church gathered in that place, three times (twice in the reading we heard today, and once back in chapter 19) – and they say, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.”
And you know, they actually
thought they could do it! And so do we. Oh, yes, God has
done everything up until this point, 100% – but now its time to even the score a little bit. Pay God back.
Earn our keep, and our adoption, and our sonship. Prove our love, our worth, that God didn’t
make a horrible mistake in choosing us.
Yes, He will be our God and we will be His children. Yes, we’ll do it! We
promise. . . . Well, you know what happens. In just a few days, they make plans for a
golden calf. And it turns out that 0% was
Well, yes – if its up to us. If our sonship and adoption is dependent upon our promises, our faithfulness, our efforts, our obedience. And if that’s true, its not a matter of a few days, but a few hours, a few minutes, before the sin in our hearts and minds wells up and shatters us. Not loving my neighbor but despising him and his need. My heart and mind filled with pride and self-love. Not loving God but despising what He has given me and how He is working in my life. My heart and mind filled with lust for what I do not have, but want. More stuff. A better family. An easier life. A different job. Fewer troubles. More admiration from those around me. A god to grant my every wish. Those are pretty idols, aren’t they? All golden and shiny and attractive.
Now, I don’t doubt the sincerity of the Israelites when they made that promise, and I don’t doubt your sincerity. Greg’s going to make a similar promise in just a few moments, when he’s brought into membership in our congregation, and I know he means it! It’s our ability that’s lacking. Our egos making promises that our bodies can’t keep.
But if you listened to the
reading from Exodus carefully, you will have heard that God’s covenant, His
promise, is not dependent upon or based upon us,
or anything that we promise, or anything that we do. For what did we hear? “Behold the blood of the covenant
that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.” And like the blood that stained the doorposts
of the Israelites in
Which brings us to that day
But Jesus withdraws at that notion, because came not to be just a bread king, but a blood king. He is the prophet greater than Moses, but not because His Law is greater, and not because His bread is greater, or because His miracles are greater – although that may all be true! – but because His blood is greater. Because His blood is the blood of God, the true substitute, the true blood of the covenant. His is the blood that covers us to make us sons of God. His is the blood that makes atonement for our sins, so that the angel of eternal death passes over us, and we are rescued from our slavery to sin and death, and given life. He took the bullet of death for us and our false, golden gods, so that we might be sprinkled and covered with the blood and water that flowed from His side on the cross. That we be children of God, sons of God, not through our promises and efforts (our sweat and blood!), but through the forgiveness of our sins in the blood of His cross.
And so that that blood, His blood, might cover us as well – saving us from death, making us sons of God – is why we are here. And it is why (as we heard) God gave the gifts of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, to His Church (Eph ). To give us Jesus’ blood of love and life. To sprinkle us in the blood of His cross in the waters of Holy Baptism, where we are made His children and brought into His family. To cover us in the blood of His cross in the words of Holy Absolution, where the forgiveness of the cross is given to us here and now. And to give us the body and blood of His cross in Holy Communion, where we hear “This is My blood, of the New Covenant” – the New Testament, for what the Old could only foreshadow, has now come in Jesus. And in Him, the prophet greater than Moses, the Son of God Himself, everything is made new. Our sins and broken promises forgiven. Our shattered hearts and lives restored. Our relationship with God made whole, and holy, again. Still 100% God, 0% us.
And that is the “equipping
of the saints” and the “work of the ministry” and the “building
up of the body of Christ” that
That working of God had a huge impact in the lives of the Israelites, and it has a huge impact on our lives as well. It doesn’t mean that we have a bread king, who is going to solve all the problems and difficulties of our lives and give us all we want. There’s still going to be struggles, doubts, and fears. There’s still going to be wars, and as we all heard again this week, terrorism. But though these things will continue, our blood king has assured us that the greatest terrorist of all, who has been at work in our world ever since the beginning, and will be until the very end; who seeks to devour and destroy our lives and drag us down to hell with him – he has been destroyed. And so in the end, we too will enter the Promised Land, of Heaven, and behold God. For like the Israelites, He has chosen us, rescued us, provided for us, fought for us, and died and rose for us. He has done it, 100%. And so He is The Church’s One Foundation (LW #289), both now and forevermore.
In the Name of the Father, and of the (+) Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Now the peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen.