In the name of the Father and of the † Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The Lenten Study
During this Lenten season, by way of reading the gospel according to Saint Luke, we have followed Jesus from the upper room to the tomb. We were there in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus prayed and was betrayed. Then we watched as he submitted to the so called trials of the high priests, Herod, and Pilate.
We heard Peter deny even knowing Jesus and a mob cry out “Crucify him.” Finally we saw him suffering and dying on a cross before his lifeless body was placed in a tomb. His body was given and his blood was shed as a ransom for the truly guilty.
The Truly Guilty
The truly guilty, that’s where the story becomes personal. That’s where we are no longer innocent bystanders watching the events of that Thursday and Friday. We do not have the right to point fingers at those who were there and blame them solely for the suffering and death of Jesus.
They were no more guilty that you and me. We are guilty of wanting to be called the greatest rather than humbling ourselves in order to serve others. We are guilty in our own ways of the betrayal and denial of Jesus.
We did not mock, taunt, or shout for his death with our lips, but we are guilty of unclean lips. We have gossiped, lied, cursed, and failed to confess our faith in Jesus. We are guilty of failing to live according to God’s will.
We are the truly guilty, yet Jesus is the one who suffered. We are the ones who go our own way, yet Jesus is the one who was forsaken. We are the ones who sin and deserve death, yet Jesus is the one who died.
Jesus Became Guilty
Jesus came because we are who we are. He allowed his body to be beaten and nailed to a cross. Jesus came to give his body as the sacrifice for our sins. Jesus allowed his blood to flow from his body. He came to shed his blood to remove from us the curse of death.
It is the heavenly Father, who allowed his beloved Son to be found guilty of your sins. He sent him to be punished so that you could be set free. It is God, who gives you a new life. He is the one through whom you are born again as his beloved child in Holy Baptism.
You are a beloved child born of water and the Word. You are a child who needs to be nourished in your faith and assured of the forgiveness of your sins. So, even before his suffering and death Jesus gave his body and blood to you.
On the night when he was betrayed he gave the apostles his supper so that they could pass it on to you. “[Jesus] took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. . . . This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”
This bread and wine is not a symbol of Christ’s body and blood. Jesus said, “This is.” It is the same body and blood that was given and shed on the cross. It is the same body that was forsaken and died. It is the same body that was placed in the tomb.
It is the same body that was raised from the dead and lives with the heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit. We confess and believe that it is the very body and blood of Jesus that were given and shed for the forgiveness of sins.
For You Plural
Jesus said, “This is my body, given FOR YOU.” He said, “This is my blood shed and poured out FOR YOU.” The body and blood of Jesus was given and shed for you, his church. Given and shed for you who by God’s grace are believers in Jesus Christ as your Savior.
The body and blood of Jesus are a gift to his church. The Son of God took on flesh and blood so that he could become one of us. He was born of a virgin so that he could live and breathe as one of us. As true man, he was tempted in every way as we are, but without sinning.
Whenever the church gathers around the Lord’s Table it proclaims the death of Jesus as the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. When we eat this bread and drink this wine, we are confessing to one another that Christ gave his body and shed his blood for our sins.
We share a Holy Communion with one another because we receive together the body and blood of Jesus Christ. We are brothers and sisters in Christ because he laid down his life for us. He gathers us together around his table so that we see the needs of one another.
For You Singular
A few minutes ago, I invited each one of you individually to come forward and to hear that your sins are forgiven. Those words were for you individually not for your family member or friend next to you in the pew. When they came forward, they heard the words spoken for them as well.
Given and shed for you are meant in the same way. Each one of you will receive the very body and blood of the Son of God given and shed for you. The Son of God became flesh and blood for you. His life was lived for you. His suffering and death were a sacrifice for your sins.
I will hold his body for you to see. Then I will place it in your hand or on your tongue with the words, “For You.” The cup of his blood you receive is poured out, “For You.” As YOU receive this meal, the Lord forgives YOUR sins and he strengthens YOUR faith, just as he washed away YOUR sins in the water of Holy Baptism.
Certainly, every word that God has given us is good news. Every word comes from a good and gracious God. Every word, “Justification,” “Redemption,” “Born Again,” “Reconciliation,” “Mercy,” “Grace,” “This is my body,” “This is my blood,” and “Given and Shed for the forgiveness of sins,” is an important word.
There is none more important, however, than these words, “FOR YOU.” The good news is that the Son of God, lived, died, and rose “FOR YOU.” Through Christ Jesus, for his sake, You are justified, redeemed, born again, reconciled, shown God’s mercy and grace. His body given, his blood shed was for the forgiveness of YOUR sin.
Come and be welcomed to his table. Receive from him his own body and blood given for you. Then go in peace.
In the name of Jesus, Amen.
Soli Deo Gloria