Maundy Thursday 2015

Maundy Thursday
2 April 2015
Psalm 67

Psalm 67  To the chief Musician on Neginoth, A Psalm or Song.

    God be merciful unto us, and bless us;

And cause his face to shine upon us; Selah.

    That thy way may be known upon earth,

Thy saving health among all nations.

    Let the people praise thee, O God;

Let all the people praise thee.

    O let the nations be glad and sing for joy:

For thou shalt judge the people righteously,

And govern the nations upon earth. Selah.

    Let the people praise thee, O God;

Let all the people praise thee.

    Then shall the earth yield her increase;

And God, even our own God, shall bless us.

    God shall bless us;

And all the ends of the earth shall fear him.

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

The old Passover was only for the circumcised. To eat of that life-sparing meat drained of blood, you had to bleed yourself. You had to be marked as one who belonged to God through the very instrument that passed original sin on to each generation. Blood on your thigh, or on the thigh of you husband or father and brothers, prepared you to have blood on your door so that the angel of death would pass over and you would be spared. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and . . .  blood makes atonement by the life” (Leviticus 17:11, ESV).

Psalm 67, the Introit for Maundy Thursday, foresees a new Passover with Lifeblood put not on doorposts but on tongues and not simply on the circumcised but upon all people. The Psalmist foresees the time when the Son of God’s face will shine upon us all, when He will look with favor upon all the earth. He will be the Saving Health of even the Gentiles, even the uncircumcised, even the Egyptians, Babylonians, and Ninevites. They, who once sought to enslave God’s people, will also be the people of God called to praise Him. Thus does the Psalmist exclaim: “O let the nations be glad and sing for joy.”

This new Passover, as seen by the Psalmist, comes in the increase of the earth’s yield. It was foreshadowed in the meat and blood of that first Passover. It was also shown in the miraculous manna from heaven. But we do not ask of the new Passover, “What is it?” It is bread, obviously, produced in the normal way: wheat or grain that has been ground and baked. It has not dropped from heaven. It has not been miraculously multiplied. It is not confusing or unexpected. It has come, naturally, from the earth’s yield and is supplied by God through the generosity of His people.

So do not ask, “What is it?” in surprise or confusion. Yet we also know that it is more than bread. It is the risen Body of Christ given for us to eat for our salvation.

There, hidden in bread and wine, given to sinners, even uncircumcised Gentiles, the crucified and risen Christ makes His ways known upon the earth. He is the Lord who provides. He provides more than food for physical sustenance. He provides more than escape from Pharaoh’s slavery, safety from the angel of death, and safe passage on dry ground through the killing waters of the Red Sea. He is Lord who provides the New Passover: Himself. He gives Himself as food for the eater, bread for the hungry, life for the dead. He is the saving health of the Gentiles, more, He is their actual salvation. He is Yeshua in the Flesh, upon the earth, the Creator as creation, Salvation with hands and feet for piercing and a mouth for absolving and a soul for dying. He gives Himself even to Gentiles, to the unworthy, the unprepared, and the ungrateful, which is to say He gives Himself to those who need Him.

It is not our blood upon our thighs that marks us as His: it is His Blood, our Passover Lamb. That Blood is not placed upon the doors of our homes, but upon the tongues of our mouths. His Blood marks us as His. He bleeds so that we don’t. His Blood does more than stave off the angel of death in a single night of terror that precedes liberation. His Blood opens heaven. He gives His Blood as a drink offering, not just to the Father, but also to us, to Jews and Gentiles alike, and that which was long forbidden is bestowed for the very reason that it was forbidden in the first place: the life of the flesh is in the blood. He gives us His Body to eat and most surprisingly, He gives His Blood to us to drink. This spares us from the necessity of bleeding for our sins, spares us from everlasting death, and makes all things clean – even Gentiles, even sinners, even us.

This is the increase of the earth foretold in Psalm 67: God has become Flesh. He has joined Himself to us. He comes to us, not as a symbolic gesture or as a metaphor for good will, but He comes in the Flesh, the Creator made creation in order that He might be destroyed in His Father’s wrath, roasted whole, a burnt offering of the sins of the world, and then re-made. He comes in the earth’s yield, His Bodt and Blood hidden in agricultural products, grain, crushed and baked, grapes, crushed and fermented, given and poured as food and drink for His children. This is what the earth’s yield was meant to be.

This yield also proclaims the Lord’s death until He comes again. He was Himself crushed upon the cross for our sins. Yet in that crushing He became something greater: greater than a prophet or a martyr or a rabbi, greater than the bulls and goats and lambs offered in theTemple, greater than bread or wine, greater than the sins for which He died: He became our salvation. The earth itself has yielded her greatest increase. The tomb of Joseph is opened. Jesus lives, alive out of God’s good acre, dust to dust and ashes to ashes no more, the earth gives up its greatest yield:  Jesus lives. Jesus lives and He gives us His life in His Sacrament, and God, even our own God, shall bless us.

In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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