Wednesday, December 31, 2008

On the Shedding of Blood

New Year’s Eve
Eve of the Circumcision and Name of Jesus
December 31, 2008
Luke 12:35-40

First let me say, “Happy New Year!”

Now we can get to the actual business of why we can wish each other a Happy New Year. It’s worth our noting that we’re in the House of God on the last day of the year. It’s worth noting that we’re here because we’re Christians. Anyone can wish anyone a Happy New Year, and we shouldn’t deny them that in any way.

But it’s also worth our time to be very specific about why this year ahead is a Happy New Year. It is because of the shedding of blood. It’s not because God will cause you to prosper financially, although if He does, you may certainly count that as a blessing. It’s not because He promises all your children will be healthy and successful, although you ought certainly to thank God if you receive those blessings. It’s not because He promises to bring to an end the wars of this world and the suffering people endure at the hands of tyrants, although anytime those things happen we may rejoice in God’s continued care for His creation.

The reason the new year will be blessed is because of the shedding of blood. The reason we are here is because of the shedding of blood. The reason we have existence in the favor of God is because of the shedding of blood. Not because He brings all wars to an end, because your children are free from sickness, and you have the financial capacity to care for your family. All of those blessings are wonderful, which is why they’re called blessings.

But without the shedding of blood they vanish before you know it. Is it hard to see how fleeting they are? We’re already here to 2009! Where has the time gone? We know at some point it will come to an end, perhaps sooner rather than later. We can rejoice in all the temporal blessings God gives us but we should do so asking Him that He would grant us the peace of always being mindful of and trusting in the eternal blessings He grants to us. Those come through the shedding of blood.

That’s why it’s going to be a Happy New Year. How does our Lord describe Himself in the Gospel reading? As one who serves. He’s not a servant. He’s the Master. And yet, He serves, doesn’t He? How He serves is by coming to those He serves. In the Gospel reading the description points us to His coming again on the Last Day to serve them one last time on this earth. The way He will do that is by taking them from the earth into the eternal glories of heaven. He tells us this beforehand so that we may be ready.

How do we get ready? We get ready by fixing our faith on the shedding of blood. The Bible fixes our focus on the shedding of blood of a specific person—Jesus Himself. He, the Lord, has served us by shedding His blood. The New Year coincides with the festival in the Church Year of the Circumcision and Name of Jesus. We know what circumcision is. There is shedding of blood involved. Even here as an infant, Jesus was already accomplishing His work of salvation, His work of serving us. The shedding of His blood as an infant in His circumcision points to the shedding of His blood on Calvary.

On the eighth day of life Jesus was given His name. Matthew says the reason for the name was because He would forgive His people of their sins. His name and its meaning is tied to the shedding of His blood at His circumcision. All of this points to His shedding of His blood on Calvary and why His blood was shed in that sacrifice. It was for the forgiveness of sins. That means eternal life. We are reconciled with God. It means in the new year we have new life every day. Because Jesus shed His blood you can wake each day in the new year knowing that you are forgiven.

The year ahead is a blessing God gives you to serve you. He came to serve by giving His lifeblood for you. When He comes on the Last Day He will serve you by welcoming you into His eternal home. In the coming year and throughout your life He serves you giving you in His Supper the very blood He shed on the cross. He does this because He has exhorted you to be ready for His coming on the Last Day. How can you be prepared if you’re left to your own will and ability? You can’t, but being forgiven and strengthened by Him serving you you can and will. The year ahead will bring unknowns, challenges, problems, and sadness. Rejoice that despite and even in those things you are forgiven, your Lord who shed His blood for you forgiving you each day and always. Amen.


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