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Christ for Millions of Hebrews

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Sermon on Exodus 12:1-30

Title:  Christ for Millions of Hebrews

Theme:  God wants his people to commemorate their salvation

Goal:  to encourage God’s people to commemorate their salvation

Need:  We often miss out on the importance of the commemoration of our salvation

Outline:

Introduction- the hardest thing to part with is something you care for deeply.

1.      Passover was God’s expectation of parting with something he cared about deeply.  His son

2.      Passover was God’s way of gaining something he cared about deeply.  His People

3.      The Lord’s Supper is our commemoration and motivation to be God’s people in our lives.

Conclusion

Congregation,

  We have a few artists in our congregation.  In church today, I don’t want to embarrass anyone, but I thought it would be interesting to know:  are there any artists in our church here who have either sold a work or had it displayed publicly in show or something like that?

          The school art show was the closest I got to anything like that, and I am pretty sure they made sure every one of the students had at least one piece in the art show.

          I was told by one of my friends who was an great artist that one of the toughest things he had to do with his art was to part with his work.  It didn’t matter if he was giving it away.  If he was selling it, it was especially difficult he had worked long and hard at it.  And the excellence of the piece showed in the way people wanted to lay down a price so that they could have it.  But that excellent piece of art being carted off by someone else to be displayed in their gallery or above their fireplace was difficult.  Maybe some of the artists here have gone through the same sort of pain in parting with a work you created. 

          Today we are going to celebrate the Lord’s Supper.  And in many different ways, that sense of loss at loosing something you love presents itself.

          Every time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper we hear where Paul retells the events that happened on the night of the Last Supper.  Where Christ takes the bread and breaks it and says this is my body which for you, do this in remembrance of me.  And then takes the cup ands says it is his blood poured out.

          As Christ says these words, he is saying something very significant.  The Last Supper that Christ shares with his disciples isn’t just some random last meal of a texas murderer on his last night before the lethal injection.  What Christ shared with his disciples that night and which we celebrate and commemorate today still is part of a much richer tradition.  And that tradition confirms for me and for all of us the reality of Christ’s death on the cross.

          The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper originates at the time of the original Passover in Egypt which happened probably over 4000 years ago. 

          A four thousand year festival… ah… , no biggy.  Just get me the bread and juice.”  I am pretty sure we won’t be thinking that realizing how steeped in the history of God’s people this festival, and supper is.

          I want to start by reading the first verses of Exodus 12.  For centuries leading up to this the Egyptians have enslaved the Hebrews.  And the latest pharaoh has made situations worse for the Hebrew slaves.  Finally, God says he is going to take the Hebrew people, his people, out of slavery so they can freely be his people again. 

          Exodus 12:1-16

          The heart of the good news of Jesus Christ is that he takes the place of the lamb that was sacrificed as a part of the Passover sacrifice.  When the angel of death went through all of Egypt, it was the last of the ten plagues.  Because pharaoh refused to listen to God, and continued enslaving the people that were supposed to serve God alone, because of that the plagues would affect every family of Egypt. 

          Every person who is not covered by the blood of the lamb would lose something very important to them.  Every firstborn in the family would die.

          Can you imagine what sort of loss would be experienced if the whole community of Israel lost its first born sons.  Well, what would it be like for us in our congregation here today? I hardly even want to imagine it because of the grief it would bring. 

          Think of the grief our church community goes through when one person who has lived a long life dies.  Imagine the grief when a young person dies suddenly.  What about 100 of them in one community over night.  That is death at its worst.  That is grief at its deepest.

          But God gave the Hebrew people a way to be set free from both the curse of death that was coming, and they were going to be set free from their shackles to Egypt.  It was the blood of the lamb. 

          Salvation lamb, yes.  But also the shared lamb. 

          I hadn’t really paid attention to this point until studying the passage again for this week.  It was a shared lamb.  The passage says, if you household is to small to eat the whole lamb yourself, if you are going to have extra lamb, don’t let it go to waste and don’t do like the thanksgiving turkey and have lamb sandwiches for the next couple of weeks.  Anyone still have some turkey in their fridge somewhere??  Share the lamb.  Divide the lamb among you so that not a bit is left over and not a person is left without.  In community, no one is left out.  Everyone shares together.  When there is extra, they give to the person who needs more.  When there isn’t enough, they scrape together from those who still have plenty.

          I wonder if we still share Christ this way.  In the community of faith in a church, when our faith is strong and Christ’s presence seems to be overflowing in our lives, shouldn’t that overflowing of the Lamb of God lead us to pass Christ on to those who maybe are struggling or wrestling.  Sitting by the bedside of the person who is ill.  Asking, how are you doing? To the spouse who often gets overlooked.

          This sort of sharing the Lamb of God happens even when we do what used to be called benevolence.  When we entrust our deacons with a portion of money to help the people in the community who don’t have enough.  When we give to the food bank.  When we anonymously give a portion to that family that we know tries hard but still is at a financial, emotional and spiritual breaking point.  They all go together don’t they?

          The Shared Lamb.

          We also know this Salvation Lamb is a Sacred Lamb.  Or… A Special Lamb. 

          I think they had 4H clubs in Canada.  I know when I lived out in Iowa they had lots of 4H events.  The farm kids would take so much pride in bringing their animals to the shows.  They had spent so much time taking care of their animal in just the right way.  These animals were perfect to show.  Maybe by the time it was all done they would go home with a ribbon for the animal they brought.

          Think about this Passover lamb.  The Hebrews in captivity who don’t have a whole lot anyway are told to take their prize 1 year old sheep, and to put it off to the side.  This animal was now special.  Separated.  The Sacred Lamb.  Then for 14 days they would take special care of the animal.  It the best animal in their flock.  Now they grow even closer to it as they get closer to the time of the Passover.

          Think of the mixed emotions that would plague a family as they took that carefully cared for lamb, the best.  And they slit is throat and captured its blood.  The lambs death might be hard.  But, it was so important.  That lambs death guaranteed life for the people and freedom from slavery.

          The Bible tells us that the Salvation Lamb, the Shared Lamb, and the Sacred-Special Lamb is Jesus Christ.  The reason why God accepted the sacrifice of the lamb in Egypt is because he saw it as the blood of Jesus that was yet to come.

          What lamb could be more special or more sacred?  Boy it is hard ot part with a painting when you have worked so hard at your masterpiece isn’t it.

          Your prize animal.  Cared for so much.  So special.

          And think, for God to save his whole creation and the people that he loved, he would take his son that he loved.  The triune God with him.  The first born of all creation. The perfect one.  He would take this son, his son, and let him be slaughtered.

          Then think, in the Passover, that first time the lamb was slaughtered it was reminding God that the day would come when his son would die the same way.  His sons blood would be shed to protect the people he loved.  Year after year as Passover came, the same reminder.  God… because of the lamb that we shared with one another, you love us and care for us.  Each time that lamb would be killed, it would be to God as if his son were being killed. 

          Part of that meal is also the breaking of the unleavened bread for the family.  Did you know that when that bread is broken during the feast of unleavened bread like we read about three whole circles of unleavened bread are together in a pouch.  Out of those three circles of unleavened bread they take out only the middle one.  It is only the second one of the three circles of bread that is broken.

          What an amazing picture.  Triune pieces of bread.  And only the middle one would be broken.  For thousands of years, Millions of Hebrews had been commemorating that Jesus Christ, the second person of the trinity, the middle piece of unleavened bread, would be broken.

          The special lamb, the chosen lamb would be slaughtered and shared.  And the people covered by his blood would be saved from death.  Isn’t that Jesus Christ!  Don’t you see Jesus Christ.

          I don’t know about you, but my soul needs this sort of confirmation.  Jesus Christ’s death is not something creative story tellers could make up.  This is the masterpiece from God’s paintbrush.  Jesus Christ died so that… think about this Jesus Christ died so that Hebrews in 2000 BC could be set free as God’s people.  Today what ever we are struggling with in our life, we know for a fact that covers all of history that Jesus Christ died to set us free.  God gave Christ as our sacrifice as much as it grieved him so that we could share in the Lord’s Supper together and remember and believe that Christ was broken and his blood was shed for us.

          Freedom is in front of us, just like the Hebrew is Egypt.  And do you know what they had to do.  They had to get up.  They had to eat ready to move.  Because they were leaving that bondage and they were going to set out through the Red Sea to become the people again that God always wanted.  People who would love God with all their hearts.  And share with each other and support one another with all their hearts as well!

          As we eat the bread.  As we drink the cup, make sure your hearts are ready to stand up go, to stand up and claim that promise that you will go with God into the deserts, ready for the joys of freedom from sin, and ready to enjoy the promised land that lies ahead.  People this meal is for us. 

And all God’s people say.

AMEN.

           

           

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