April 1, 2021
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
“Is it I?” That is the question all twelve disciples asked. “Is it I?” It could be. It has been before. The things Jesus said about the one, would be true of them all, and us. Judas would betray Him, but so would the rest in the hours ahead? Denying, running, abandoning Him. There is plenty of guilt to go around. They were all dipping bread into the dish with Him.
Tonight we join the twelve in the upper room with Jesus, and ask, “Is it I?” Knowing the answer, we confess, “I am a poor, miserable sinner.1” To sin means to betray God. It is to put someone or something before God. It is to fear, love, and trust in someone or something else more than Him, for your life, for your happiness, for what you need.
Jesus’ statement is meant to confront all of us, to convict us. However, remember there is another “It is I” that we heard this night, and from One who is far more important then ourselves. It is when Jesus took the bread, gave thanks, broke it and gave it to His disciples and said: It is I. “This is My Body.” Then when He took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them and said: It is I. “This is My Blood.2”
With those simple words we see a profound truth. The truth that in the sacrifice of His body and blood, hung on the cross, and given us to eat and to drink, Jesus is taking what is ours, and giving us what is His. He takes our ‘Is it I,’ and gives us His ‘It is I.’ He takes our guilt and gives us His life. Before He is handed over to death, He hands Himself over to us for life.
Then that guilt is met with a gift. The two are not equal. The gift overwhelms the guilt. It is the way of God, as it has been since the very beginning. In the beginning, when Adam and Eve sinned, guilt was met with a gift, the promise of a Savior. So it was down through the ages of the patriarchs and the prophets. Guilt was met with a gift.
When Jesus walked through the towns and villages, eating with tax collectors, prostitutes, and sinners of all kinds,3 guilt was met with a gift.4 Tonight we should see the gift given here, and the gift of the sacrifice. We come crushed in our sins, with our broken lives, in all of our failures, to be called children of God, so that our guilt will be met with His gift. Our guilt washed away in the flood of Jesus’ blood. We should long to hear the most wonderful words in all of creation, “you are forgiven.”
That is the gift. It is the promise of God attached to the Body and Blood of our Lord, the promise of the forgiveness of our sins. That is the gift. By faith we receive that promised forgiveness. Faith not in myself; not in my ability to improve and get better; and not in my commitment or re-commitment to God. It is faith in the promise of God.
It is believing that this Body and Blood that you eat and drink, was given and shed for you, to atone for your sin, to wash you clean, to grant you forgiveness. Though I come to this altar, this table, an Adam, a Peter, a Judas, a betrayer, a sinner, a repeat offender, with nothing to offer and riddled with guilt, the guilt is met with a gift, and you leave no longer a sinner but a saint. A sinner made holy through the Blood of the new covenant, the new testament, the Blood of the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world.5
Tomorrow night, we will hear once again of the slaughter of that Lamb. The One who goes as it is written of Him. Who goes willingly. Who goes for you. Tonight, we receive that Lamb, eating His Body, drinking His Blood. There we become one in Him and with Him. Tomorrow night we see not only His crucifixion, but the crucifixion of our death, our sin. Joined to Him and one in Him, His death become our death, His resurrection becomes our resurrection. His life becomes our life.6 Our participation in the Body and Blood of Jesus is our participation in His passing through death into life eternal.
The old sinner in us is slain, and the new person is raised up. Even though that old Adam, that old Peter, that old Judas in us continues to live on, and continues to lead us where we do not want to go, and do that which we do not want to do,7 we do not fear, or despair,8 but know that greater than our guilt is the gift. The gift that will never run out, the cup that will never run dry.
Tonight we do not ask, “Is it I?” Tonight we confess, “It is I.” We do so not to make ourselves feel bad, or to make ourselves somehow worthy. It is for one reason only, to receive the gift – the forgiveness of our sin spoken in the Words of Holy Absolution, and the forgiveness of our sin given in this Holy Supper of our Lord’s Body and Blood.
Come to His table, and receive the gift. Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
1 LSB Compline
82 Timothy 1:7