March 15, 2017
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
INI + AMEN.
Holiness. The Lord has it. He is it. The Lord is holy. “Holy, holy, holy Lord God of Sabaoth, heaven and are full of [His] glory.” He’s perfect. He’s Light—“in Him no darkness at all.” He’s set apart. “He dwells in unapproachable light,” and it’s unapproachable from our end of things.
It’s unapproachable because we aren’t holy—not in ourselves. We’re not set apart. Fine china is an example of something that’s set apart. Far from that, we get into all sorts of messes: messes that we try and cover up from other people; messes we try and not think about; messes we may even try to cover up from the Lord. We don’t really want to come into the light either because then our “deeds would be exposed.”
“Yahweh spoke to Moses.” The Lord’s speaks. He must. He must come to us. Left to ourselves, in our deep dark secrets, our deep dark consciences, our deep dark past, our deep dark present, we’d hide like Adam and Eve at the slightest rustling wind. The Lord comes. He comes with more than a Word—more than just Word that will ring in our ears and engage our minds. The Lord is more touchable than that. The Lord of fingers and toes, of sight, smell, and taste, gives much more tangible gifts to His people, to you.
THE HOLY LORD GIVES HOLY BREAD TO MAKE HIS PEOPLE HOLY.
((I. The Lord gives out His holiness.))
The Lord is the Giver of good gifts. He gives out what He is: holy. He bestows His holiness on sinners. He gives out His own Light to scatter not just the darkness around us in the world but the darkness in the deep dark places of our hearts and consciences. “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of Sabaoth,” and it’s not just “heaven and earth” that “are full of His glory.” He fills you with it, too. He fills you with His holiness. That’s the sort of Lord He is. As He says elsewhere in Leviticus: “I am Yahweh who makes you holy.”
We need Him to. We need His holiness. We can’t get holiness for ourselves. We can certainly be “holier-than-thou” to those around us, but that doesn’t pass muster with an all-holy Lord. We can drum up for ourselves a certain holiness by our works and actions. We can stand for a cause we think is right. We can have the right bumper stickers or profile-pic overlays. And those things might be very just and right and good, and maybe would be good to support in this life. But all of that’s a holiness that lasts only as long as we can keep it going. It’s a human holiness that’s good in our eyes, but doesn’t withstand the holiness of an all-holy Lord. And our human holiness doesn’t make up in any way, shape, or form for the unholy things we do “daily and much.”
We need a different kind of holiness. A holiness that comes from Lord Himself. A holiness that covers our unholiness. We need a Lord who will exchange His holiness—swap it out—for our unholiness. That’s exactly the Lord we have. He’s not stingy. He comes, according to His Word. He’s born and lives the holy life we never could—a holy life that’s actually 100% holy—not in man’s sight but in the Father’s sight. That’s Jesus, and He’s not stingy. As He gave holy gifts to His Old Testament people—all the various sacrifices—so also He gives His Holy Gifts to us. His holy life, His holy suffering and death, His holy resurrection are given to us in His Holy Gifts: His Holy Word, His Holy Baptism, and His Holy Absolution.
((II. The Lord is the true Bread.))
The Lord’s got even more. He gives Himself! The Lord can’t be separated from His holiness. When He unites people with His holiness, His perfection, He’s uniting them to Himself. Even as He “gave Himself as a ransom for many,” and “drew all men into Himself” when He was crucified, so also He delivers Himself and His holiness to His people. He’s always delivered Himself and His holiness to His people. “They shall eat it in a holy place, since it is for him a most holy portion.” A holy meal for His priests in the holy tabernacle to make them holy. They partook of the Lord’s holiness.
He still does it today! THE HOLY LORD GIVES HOLY BREAD TO MAKE HIS PEOPLE HOLY. He’s the Bread! The manna in the wilderness and the bread of the presence here in Leviticus 24 point forward to what Jesus Himself says: “I am the true Bread come down from heaven.” He delivers His holiness. He delivers Himself. We have the true “bread of presence” today because, through the bread and wine of the Supper, Christ is present, delivering Himself to you that you would be holy, without sin, because there you receive the forgiveness of your sins won by Christ on the cross.
But the Lord’s presence in the Supper isn’t abstract. As Jesus says, “The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh…Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.” Or as we read tonight: “Take, eat; this is My body. Drink of it all of you; this is My blood.” We take Jesus at His Word. “We believe, teach, and confess that the words of Christ’s testament are not to be understood in any other way than the way they read, according to the letter.” (EP VII.7) And so we believe that “Christ’s body and blood are truly and [actually] present, and that they are truly distributed and received with the bread and wine.” (EP VII.6)
We take our stand on what Jesus says He’s giving. With our hands and mouths we receive what Jesus says we receive. “In the Holy Supper Christ’s body is received orally with the bread. With the mouth not just bread and wine are received,” (EP VII.26) but we also receive His body and blood, as He says—Word for Word. When “Yahweh spoke to Moses” about the bread in Leviticus 24, Moses and the Israelites didn’t say, “Well, this is what Yahweh really meant.” So also, we say what Jesus says. And that’s it.
THE HOLY LORD GIVES HOLY BREAD TO MAKE HIS PEOPLE HOLY. He gives what He Himself is. The Lord is holy. “Holy, holy, holy Lord God of Sabaoth, heaven and are full of [His] glory.” You are, too! You are holy because He is Holy and because He’s delivered His holiness and Himself to you. He’s not stingy—far from it! We trust His holy Word, the Word by which He instituted His Holy Supper—the Supper of His body and blood.
We need a holiness that’s outside of us, and it is! Jesus does it! His “holy body into death was given, life to win for us in heaven.” Jesus delivers it! As He said “Take, eat; this is My body. Drink of it all of you; this is My blood.” For this reason “Believers must seek Christ’s body and blood in the bread and wine of the Holy Supper.” (EP VII.36) That’s what He says. We rest there. “Yahweh spoke to Moses.” He speaks again: “Take, eat; this is My body. Drink of it all of you; this is My blood.” The Lord’s Holy Bread—His Holy body and blood—to make and keep you holy.
INI + AMEN.