Redeemer Ev. Lutheran Church, Iola, WI

Sermons, Devotions, and News from Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church in Iola, WI

Monthly Archives: March 2015

Feasting with God #18 – Our True Passover

Feasting with God #18

Our True Passover

Text: Exodus 12:3b-11

3b[E]very man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household.  4And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the  lamb.  5Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old.  You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, 6and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.  7Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.  8They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it.  9Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and inner parts.  10And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn.  11In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand.  And you shall eat it in haste.  It is the Lord’s Passover.

Passover is almost universally considered to be the highest of all the Jewish festivals.  Every year when it is celebrated, it recalls the first time it was celebrated, when the Israelites were preparing to be freed from their slavery in Egypt.  It is a festival to commemorate the Lord’s providence and care for his people, and his promise for their deliverance.

But this festival has been fulfilled.  At its institution it was designed to prepare the Israelites to be delivered from bondage, and each celebration thereafter was to prepare them again for the greater deliverance.  Look closely at the recipe for this festival, and we’ll see what it means.

Each household was to take “a lamb…without blemish”: a perfect lamb without any defect or imperfections to be found.  Then this lamb was to be killed, its blood used to mark the doorposts and lintels of the houses, then roasted and eaten entirely by the family—and eaten “in haste,” “with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand.”  So, being ready to get up and leave at a moment’s notice, the families were to eat the meat of a perfect lamb whose blood marked their houses.

Of course, we know from the rest of this story in the book of Exodus, at midnight while these people were inside celebrating the Passover, all the firstborn in the land of Egypt were being killed by the angel of God.  But this death passed over the houses that had the blood of the lamb marking them.  This all foreshadowed something greater, and that greater thing has been fulfilled.

The true Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ, was killed just after the celebration of a Passover around 2000 years ago.  His disciples had been given his flesh and blood to eat and drink when Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper.  Then, a night that seemed to last from Friday evening until Sunday morning left Jesus’ disciples in fear.  But when the dawn came on Easter Sunday, their Teacher came to them and led them out of their hiding places, taught them about the joy of God’s deliverance, and told them, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19).

You see, Jesus was the perfect Lamb of God, whom God selected to be sacrificed for the sins of the world.  Now, those who are marked by Jesus’ blood will be passed over by death, so that our deaths lead only to eternal life.  We come out of our temporary, earthly homes, in bondage to this sinful world, rising to new life in our Lord Jesus.  Because our baptisms have washed us in the blood of the Lamb, we are delivered by God.  Because we are strengthened by the meal of Christ’s body and blood, we are prepared for the journey through this world to our resurrections.

For Christians, the festival of Passover is a reflection of the time that God delivered his covenant people from slavery, and also an illustration of how God ultimately delivered the whole world from slavery to sin.  With our belts around our waists, our shoes on our feet, and our walking sticks in our hands, we can now be ready to go through this world in the confidence of our Savior, who leads us to eternal life.

Dear Jesus, our true Passover Lamb, help us always to look to your sacrifice for our confidence in this sinful world.  Help us to look to our baptisms, to your holy Supper, and to your Word for our strengthening as we march on to our resurrections.  Help us to deliver that same message to others, so that when the Last Day comes, many others may be marked in your blood and brought into eternal life.  In your name we ask all this.  Amen.

Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Easter for Kids, 2015

Easter is near!

Redeemer would like to invite any and all children ages 5-11 to come and celebrate the Joy of Easter, as we host our first ever Easter for Kids event!

Play Games!
Make Crafts!
Make & Eat Snacks!
Sing Songs!
Celebrate Easter!

When: Saturday, March 28th, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Where: Redeemer Lutheran Church, 125 North St., Iola, WI

Call 715-295-4020 to register.

We hope to see you there!

Feasting with God #17 – A Sacrifice with a Pleasing Aroma

Feasting with God #17

A Sacrifice with a Pleasing Aroma

Text: Leviticus 1:3-9

3If [a man’s] offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish.  He shall bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the Lord.  4He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.  5Then he shall kill the bull before the Lord, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall bring the blood and throw the blood against the sides of the altar that is at the entrance of the tent of meeting.  6Then he shall flay the burnt offering and cut it into pieces, 7and the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire.  8And Aaron’s sons the priests shall arrange the pieces, the head, and the fat, on the wood that is on the fire on the altar; 9but its entrails and its legs he shall wash with water.  And the priest shall burn all of it on the altar, as a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord.

This reading from Leviticus makes it sound as though, to appease an angry God, the people of Israel had to throw him a barbeque, so that he would smell the sweet meat as it cooked and not be angry anymore.  But that’s not quite what this burnt offering means.

The first fact to realize is that God is an angry God.  But that’s not a fault in him: mankind, from the very first human beings to walk the planet, made our God angry.  Rather than obey his guidelines for a peaceful and wonderful paradise, from the very beginning we have all tried to destroy that harmony, taking the wrecking ball of our selfishness, our ignorance, and our sinfulness to God’s perfect creation.  God established a pristine paradise, and we do nothing but daily throw mud on it.

To demonstrate what our sins meant, God told the ancient Israelites to begin making various sacrifices, and this burnt offering was one sort of sacrifice that they were to make.  For our sins, we deserve to be destroyed in fire as this bull was.  We deserve to be slaughtered, have our blood strewn about, be flayed and chopped in pieces.  So the sacrifice of a young bull in this way serves as a gruesome – but accurate – picture of what our sins earn us.

And yet it is more than this.  This sacrifice, as all sacrifices made in ancient Israel, served as a picture of something greater.  The key to this understanding comes in verse 4, where it says, “and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.”  This bull is sacrificed in place of the man making the sacrifice.  Because this bull was sacrificed, it’s as though the payment for this man’s sacrifice was paid.  And the blood of the bull that is thrown against the sides of the altar should make us think of the blood of the lamb that was thrown against the doorposts in ancient Egypt – of that blood God said, “The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are.  And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt” (Ex. 12:13).

Sin demands to be paid for, and it must be paid in blood.  The lamb’s blood stood as a sign that the payment had been made, so the angel of death would not harm the firstborn of those houses.  The bull’s blood stood as a sign that the payment of the man who made the sacrifice had been made, so that his sins were forgiven and he was atoned for.  And just as the lamb and the bull to be sacrificed was to be “without blemish,” this will direct our eyes to the greatest sacrifice of blood that was made, when Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, lived his perfect life, unblemished, and then died and shed his blood on the ground.  Jesus’ blood now stands on the doorposts of the whole world, on the altar of the cross, so that once and for all has atonement been made for all humanity.

When God says that the offering would have a pleasing aroma, he means that it will be acceptable to him.  The pleasant smell of the burning meat would direct the ancient Israelites to that understanding, so that as they found the aroma sweet, they knew that they were giving that up to God, who himself would forgive them on account of that sacrifice.  If a bull without blemish would be sweet and acceptable to God, how much more isn’t the One without blemish, the very Son of God who was perfect and sinless, who gave himself of his own free will to pay for all mankind’s sins?  Be certain that Jesus’ sacrifice was accepted by God, so that all our sins have now been paid for.

Dear Lord, we have sinned against you, in countless ways and at countless times.  For all these offenses we deserve your wrath and eternal punishment, but we thank you that out of your grace you yourself have made the payment for our sins, offering your own Son up as a sacrifice of blood.  Now that all our sins have been paid for, O Lord, guide us in our lives now to live as people who are thankful to you.  In the name of your Son, that One who was slain for us, we pray.  Amen.

Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Feasting with God #16 – Eating Abominations

Feasting with God #16

Eating Abominations

Text: Deuteronomy 14:3

3You shall not eat any abomination.

Has it ever struck you how strict the diet was for the Israelites?  Sure, today we see things labeled “Kosher,” and we know that Jewish people don’t eat pork.  But I suspect that unless we’re a part of that demographic, the restrictions of their meal plans don’t really stand out.

This verse today from the book of Deuteronomy serves as the overarching theme of what the nation of Israel was not to eat: no “abomination.”  The meaning of this word depends exclusively on the perspective of the person who speaks it, so as God is the one speaking it, what he means is that the Israelites were forbidden to eat anything that God would deem offensive.  Maybe his rules on their food were a little bit arbitrary, but he was grooming this nation to be one that was exclusively his, one to be separate from all the pagan nations of the earth.  The nation of Israel would have the true God, while all these other nations would have false gods.  One way this distinction was to be outwardly shown was through diet.  In worshiping the true God, the Israelites would obey God’s commands for what they were and were not to eat.

Now why don’t Christians follow these dietary laws?  It’s fairly common for Christians to eat things like pork and shellfish, but since we believe and follow the whole Bible, including the Old Testament, it seems we ought to make ourselves aware of these laws and do our best to follow them, so that we can be God’s pious people just as ancient Israel was.  But the answer comes in Acts 10:13-15.  Peter was given a vision of animals, all kinds of animals that would be called unclean or abominations.  “And there came a voice to him: ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’  But Peter said, ‘By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.’  And the voice came to him again a second time, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common.’”

This new church of which Peter was now a part was no longer restricted to the nation of Israel.  The Gospel message was to be taken to all nations, and disciples made of all the people throughout the world.  There was no need for a diet to distinguish the people of God’s nation from all the heathen nations, because all nations were to be God’s.  And more than this, these laws of diet were given as a requirement to enhance the holiness of God’s people.  But because of what Jesus had done – keeping all the law perfectly, and dying for the sake of all uncleanness and abomination – there is no need for us to try to save ourselves by any law.  We are saved by grace and faith.  This is given to us freely, and that sets us free.

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” Paul writes (Gal. 5:1).  No laws can burden us, no special diets are required.  Instead, now, we are free to live and act in love – free to “eat or drink, or whatever you do,” but in every case, whatever we do, to “do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).

Yes, there are still things that will distinguish the Christian Church from the rest of the unbelieving world, but it’s not obedience to any law.  Instead, what set Christians apart are the fruits of the spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control; against such things there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23).  We live free from all laws, so we live in love toward God and one another, and that – not what foods we eat or don’t eat – marks us as God’s people.

Lord, guide us to a greater understanding of our Christian freedom, and to an appreciation for what a great gift it is you have given us.  Although we are no longer bound by any laws, O Lord, lead us to submit ourselves to the law of love, in which we can share the Gospel message of your Son who set us free, that others might also rejoice in this freedom.  In your Son’s name we ask it.  Amen.

Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.