The Blood that Saves

“The Blood that Saves”
Archbishop Loren Thomas Hines
Holy Thursday
March 24, 2016

Readings: Exodus 12:1-2, Psalm 78:14-20
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Luke 22:14-30

Christ said that nothing will happen until He tells the Church about it. Exodus tells of the beginnings of the Church. The Jews were in captivity in Egypt for approximately 430 years. They settled there because of the famine, and Joseph was sent there by God ahead of the famine to save them. When a new Pharaoh took over, the Egyptians forgot about all the good that Joseph had done and they began to fear the Jews because as a people, they were growing rapidly in number. They were afraid that the Jews would take over Egypt. Because of this, the Jews were made to suffer as slaves and the Egyptians inflicted much pain on Israel. In spite of this, the Jews continued to grow in number, and God heard their cry for deliverance. God planned beforehand how He would save Israel and put Moses in Egypt to lead His people out of Egypt. Moses may have hid for many years in Midian after it became known that he killed an Egyptian (after he saw the Egyptian beating a Hebrew/Jew), but God called him back to Egypt to deliver His people out of Egypt. Israel left with all the wealth of Egypt, leaving the latter bankrupt and with a decimated army (most of them were killed in the Red Sea).

Mankind is not to forget what God has done for it. In Exodus 12, God gave specific instructions to Israel for the Passover. While still in Egypt, God used the blood of the lamb, instructing His people to put some of it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they were to eat the Passover meal. Verse 2: “This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is the first month of the year for you.” God was telling them that it was where their life begins. All things have become new. This also speaks to us of Christ’s coming and His crucifixion. If the blood of a lamb would cause the angel of death to pass over or spare the households with blood on their doorposts, can we begin to comprehend what belongs to us because of the blood of Christ? Christ’s blood for us means we are delivered from all aspects of death – sickness, sorrow, pain, etc. Such is the power of the blood of Christ.

In Exodus, the angel of death also destroyed all the temples of the gods of Egypt and killed their priests. It destroyed everything that wasn’t of God. This week, we heard of the bombings in Brussels, killing and injuring hundreds. If Christians were fully committed to what Christ has done for man, such senseless killings wouldn’t happen because the false religions have already been destroyed.

We were given the new life – delivered from pain, sorrow, sickness and grief. This is our new life! This is God’s gift to us. Do we show gratitude for it? Are we even aware of this new life? Sadly, today many of the people won’t be in church because they have fled the city to go to the beach or some other vacation spot. We have lost sight of the most important things in life. As a result, we suffer.

In Psalm 78, God was reminding His people of what He has done for them; how He took them out of Egypt and fed them even in the wilderness. Yet they rebelled against Him, instead of thanking Him for taking care of them.

Today, God gives us the Eucharist which is similar to the Passover. The Passover is a separation from the old life. The Eucharist reminds us of God’s love for us. “Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?” (1Corinthians 10:16) The sharing referred to here is our participation in the blood of Christ. Romans tells us that we died with Him, but we also rose with Him and now, we are seated with Him beside the Father. Koinonia – the very love of God bestowed on man. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Christ, during His three year ministry, provided the needs of the people. He healed the sick, fed the people and brought the dead back to life. He did all this even before His resurrection. This is the beauty of this week – to learn what He has given to us and done for us.

In a little while, we will heal the sick. It isn’t the prayer that will heal but what Christ has done. Christ took away our sickness, if only we believe! The Lord said, “It’s your faith that healed you”. Our faith is in knowing the work that Christ did for us, and we claim it.

On Jewish history, Josephus wrote that as Christ was coming into Jerusalem, the Jews were choosing a lamb for the Passover. On the evening of the fifth day, the lambs were taken to the temple to be killed. At that very same time, Christ died on the cross, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

I remember during our CLF days, we went on a retreat where we took a lamb and I killed it so that its blood could be sprinkled on the people (such was our understanding at that time). Many were healed that day. God then was showing us the power of the blood of Christ, symbolically in the blood of the lamb.

On this day that we now call Holy Thursday, Christ went on trial. Everyone turned against Him. There wasn’t really a trial because He was already convicted, pronounced guilty even before He was arrested. But He allowed Himself to be arrested and tortured and crucified and killed, because of His love for us.

Out of fear and in order to protect his Master, Peter cut off the ear of a soldier who was set to arrest Christ. Then Christ rebuked Peter and healed the soldier’s ear. He healed the one who would put Him on the cross! How can we not believe that Christ loves us so much that He would heal our bodies?

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ was in such agony that He sweat blood; yet the disciples in all that time were asleep. We are like Peter, thinking that we can handle things ourselves, our way, when Christ has already done the work for us.

We shouldn’t be afraid of the tests that come our way because they are there to make us strong and stronger. Let us not argue about who’s right and wrong. We’ve all fallen short. Christ did all the work for us. He is our all in all. May these three days open our eyes and prepare us for Easter.


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