Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and glory and blessing! Amen.
1 Peter 1:18-19
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
In the name of Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, dear fellow redeemed:
If I mention the name, Achilles, what comes to mind? Perhaps the term Achilles’ heal. That is a phrase used to describe a flaw or weakness in a person. The concept comes from the Greek Myth about a warrior named, Achilles. According to the myth Achilles’ mother dipped him in the river Styx when he was a baby – holding him by one heal. The water of the Styx is said to have made him invincible – accept for on his heal where the water didn’t touch him. So in the end he died in battle as an arrow struck him in his one vulnerable place. Friends, each of us has our own Achilles’ Heal, our own weakness, our own flaw, our own failure. We are mortal because of sin. We have flaws because of sin. We are far from perfect – we are sinners. But there is One who was and is perfect – a hero with no flaws or blemishes or weakness – he is Jesus. Tonight we once again are called on to “Behold, the Lamb of God!” A Lamb Without Blemish!
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12). That is godly wisdom from the Proverbs. The way that seems right to a man is the way of the world and the way of the sinful nature. It is a way of thinking that speculates that we have to act in a certain way, do certain things so that we can earn a place in eternity or become immortal. For the Jews of Peter’s day it was following the right rabbis and working hard to keep all the rules and regulations – deluding yourself that somehow this would overcome your fatal flaw – sin. For the Gentiles of Peter’s day it too was a system of works to earn favor with the gods and a concept of fate that gave no one real comfort, all they could was hope for the best and see what would happen. We are born with the very same opinion of the law. It is an opinion of the sinful nature that suggests to us that we must do something to influence God into saving us. It is an opinion that puts eternity, at least in part, on our shoulders. Just be good and hope you get to heaven one day is the world’s spiritual advice. The only problem is that this opinion simply does not deal with reality. Reality is that each one of us has our own Achilles’ heal – our own fatal flaw that leads to our eternal destruction. We cannot save ourselves from the empty way of life handed down from our forefathers. There is only One who can save us. The price is great! Silver and gold won’t cut it. We need the lamb without blemish or defect. This is the only type of lamb that could be used for the Passover. It was also the only kind of lamb that could be used for sacrifices. Forgiveness, peace with God and access to God was only available to the Old Testament believers through the sacrifice of such a perfect lamb. Ultimately – forgiveness, peace with God, and access to God comes only through the perfect Lamb of God, Jesus! He is our perfect Redeemer – the spotless, sinless Son of God gave his life to buy us back from sin and Satan and make us God’s own dear children! He covers your flaws, protects your Achilles’ heal, with his perfect life, innocent sufferings and death, and resurrection!
We had accrued a huge debt of sin to God. Stop and think of it – we are conceived and born in sin – original sin – this causes us to stand before God condemned! Then you start adding up all the actual sins. The sins of commission, in which God had said don’t and yet we did. The sins of omission, in which God had said do and we left it undone. The debt is far bigger than the national debt. In fact, the debt was so large we couldn’t pay it off in 100 lifetimes, we have no way of paying for our sin! So what does God do? He sends his only Son to pay the debt for us. Here is where God showcases his amazing, undeserved love for sinners. Instead of punishing us as our deeds deserve – he punished his Son! What love!
Our eternal life, our freedom from sin’s slavery, our release from guilt was purchased not with gold or silver, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. Martin Luther observed: “Just one drop of this innocent blood would have been more than enough for the sin of the whole world. Yet the Father wanted to pour out his grace on us so abundantly and to spend so much that he let his Son Christ shed all his blood and gave us the entire treasure. Therefore he does not want us to make light of and think little of such great grace; but he wants us to be moved to conduct ourselves with fear, lest this treasure be taken away from us.” The price of our redemption is a telling tale. It points out to us the seriousness of sin. It shows us God’s incredibly great love for us. It leads us to a life of thankful service to the God who sacrificed his Son for us.
In his explanation to the 2nd Article of the Apostles’ Creed Luther borrows the picture language of Peter and gives us these powerful words of encouragement: All this he did that I should be his own, and live under him in his kingdom, and serve him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as he has risen from death and lives and rules eternally. God did not spare anything in his love for you – he gave his all, his most precious. This urges us to give God our all and our most precious. Stop letting self stand in the way of service. Stop letting the sinful nature dictate your actions. Live to serve this loving God who spared you from damnation by sacrificing his Son!
Our gracious God has done it all when it comes to your forgiveness and eternal life. There is nothing left for you to do! With joyful hearts respond to his love in lives of thanksgiving. Lent assures you your sins are forgiven. Lent inspires you to reflect God’s love for you to everyone around you! As we live in the shadow of the cross – we live to serve our God in thought, word, and actions. Friends, this is joyful service – a privilege and a pleasure. For God has rescued us from a life leading to eternal destruction and set before us a life of joyful thankfulness. May the Lord lead each of us to live a life that joyful knows his love and joyfully shares it! Amen.