Sermons

Holy Thursday (Jn 13:1–15, 34–35)

April 13, 2017
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

INI + AMEN.

Love. That’s what the Christian faith is all about: love toward God (that’s faith) and love toward those around you. Love—true love. Not what the world peddles as love. Love isn’t chemistry. It’s not physical attraction. But love is “the kind of thing that money just can’t buy.”

Love. Jesus’ love. It’s otherworldly love. Out of His great love for you and other sinners,” “He purchased and won you from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death.”

That’s Jesus’ love. He makes the first move. What’s the song? “Love came down at Christmas.” But that’s only half the story. We’re in the thick of the story now. Lent. Holy Week. Holy Thursday. Jesus. Love. Body and Blood. This is the point.

JESUS’ LOVE IS LIVED AND DELIVERED.

((I. Jesus’ love is lived.))

Jesus lived His love. Since He’s God, He “is love.” When Jesus loves, He doesn’t hold anything back. “Having loved his own, he loved them to the end.” He loves completely, dying for sinners. “For the ungodly,” as Paul puts it. What’s left to be done? He loved them “to the end,” “to the last,” “to the finish”—“It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

That’s the sort of love that Jesus has for all. And He puts that sort of love on display in our text. He loved in His washing His disciples’ feet. His humility is seen. “Love bears all things…love endures all things.” That’s Jesus. But Jesus’ humility and love is greater than simply washing feet.

You see, Jesus has “to the finish line” love, τετέλεσται (“It is finished”) love. That love is His forgiveness, His washing away of sins. He lived that sort of love. “He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist,” and washed their feet.

And while He “put on his outer garments and resumed his place,” He didn’t take off that towel but took it all the way to Calvary—stained with all the sins His disciples stepped in. That’s His humility: being “obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” His love: “It is finished,” and He breathed His last. That’s love lived: for you and for all. Love lived, and Love died.

((II. Jesus’ love is delivered.))

Now, Jesus’ love isn’t just lived. It’s delivered, too. He delivers His love in the forgiveness of sins. That’s what He really means by the washing of feet. It’s an outward sigh of His forgiveness. “He [didn’t mean] the washing with water, but the forgiveness of sins.” (Luther, 2nd Sermon) That’s His love, His love delivered.

“My body and blood, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins,” is what Jesus says about this Supper. We trust this word where life begins.” (LSB 634:5) “Out of His great love for you and other sinners,” God shed His blood on the cross, and His blood, His forgiveness, His love is delivered tonight—not in the washing of feet, but in His feast of love. In this His holy Supper here We taste His love so sweet, so near. (LSB 634:3)

There’s a movement of love, a movement of forgiveness. From Jesus to us. He shows it, wins it on the cross. He delivers it tonight. Each time we receive His body and blood for the forgiveness of sins, His pledge of love and devotion to you is renewed, strengthened, and preserved. Besides the Last Day, you can’t get any closer to Jesus than you do when you eat and drink the Supper of His body and blood.

But the movement isn’t just from Him to us. His love flows and pours out from Him through us—from Him to those around us through us. This is why we want to go to the Sacrament: to learn from Him to love God and my neighbor. (Christian Question 18) That’s what we pray for! That Jesus’ body and blood would strengthen us “in faith toward God and in fervent love toward one another.”

That’s what Jesus shows not only in the giving of this Supper but also in the washing of feet. That the waters of our Baptism would flood over into the lives of others—we wash away, overlook, and actually forgive their sins. The blood from the chalice overflows for all who drink. It overflows us and His blood covers the sins of those around us through us. How can there be any grudges, malice, hard feelings between any of us? There can’t! The blood we receive is for those who receive before and after us.

We’re in the thick of the story now. Lent. Holy Week. Holy Thursday. Jesus. Love. Body and Blood.

JESUS’ LOVE IS LIVED AND DELIVERED.

It was lived for us. Cross. Empty tomb. It’s delivered to us in His Supper. There’s only two things that break Lent: Easter breaks it completely, but remembering the night Jesus gave the Supper of His body and blood brings almost everything back.

His love delivered to us there does it. His love is delivered through us, too. The more you receive His love, His forgiveness, the more you have for others. It washes over you, overflows for those around you. This is the “cup of salvation,” the surely “runneth over” with Jesus, His love, His forgiveness, His Body and Blood.

INI + AMEN.

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