Sundays:  Pastor's Class 9:00 AM (Ephesians)
               Divine Liturgy 10:30 AM

Wednesdays: Pastor's Class 10:00 AM (Psalm 119 deep dive)
                    Divine Liturgy 7:00 PM



The Safety Of The Lamb

February 17, 2024 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras

CROSS ABRAHAMChrist Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
February 18, 2024
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Lent 1
The Safety Of The Lamb

“Then Isaac said to Abraham, "My father!" And he said, "Behold! Here I am my son." And he said, "Behold! The fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the sacrifice.” (Gen. 22:7)

Today we learn from Abraham that if we want to offer worship to our God, that we must approach him with a sacrifice.

The word “sacrifice” does not necessarily mean to kill or destroy something, but rather it means a “divine encounter.” “Sacri-“ means Holy which is God’s adjective; and “fice” (as in the word “Office,”) means to worship or liturgize God.

Yes, if we are to worship God in order to find healing for our sins – fatal wounds one and all – death by a thousand cuts. If we desire that he should hear our pleas for mercy, and make us well – and trade in this present world for a “world without end” – and obtain every “good gift, and perfected” from above … then we must come to him with an offering.

Psalm 96:8 says it like this, “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts!” That is the way that sinners can find health and salvation that will never perish, spoil or fade away!

What a prize!

There is nothing better than that!

But to say that is to immediately raise the question, “What can I offer to the LORD for all his benefits to me?” as we read in the 116th Psalm. Must the answer be that of the prophet Micah, “Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”

What a distressing thought that a son should die for the sins of the father!

How does one process that?

We could simply ignore Scripture as many do. Or we could go south on 130th Street, just north of I-480 and join the Buddhist Temple there. Or check out the Shiva Vishnu Hindu Temple of Greater Cleveland, on Ridge Road in Parma. It has its own Wikipedia page and so it must be good.

Or we could do as some churches do for fear of losing their members: water down the message. Interpret sin as an illness or a social problem, rather than the moral crime that carries a death penalty specification.

And then, of course, we would have to take the next step and search out
social, psychological, political and scientific cures for what the prophet Micah calls our “incurable wound.” (Micah 1:9) Yes, that would make our “flesh” our “Red Man” happy. But only for a moment. Because apart from the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. (Lev. 17:11)

And so Isaac says to his father Abraham, “Behold! The fire and the knife, but where is the lamb for the sacrifice?”

“Where is the lamb for the sacrifice?”

Upon the asking of that question the gloom we have discussed thus far begins to fade away! Thank God! Because the things we are talking about here are no fairytale, or the product of an over-active religious imagination.

“Where is the Lamb for the Sacrifice?” Where is the offering we can offer to “the Father of Lights,” by which he will put man’s cruelty against man into remission, and “deliver us from evil?”

“Where is the Lamb for the sacrifice?”

It is the all-important question, because with the Lamb there is safety. Let us hear that again: with the Lamb there is safety. But without the sacrificial Lamb all our confidence in the face of life’s BIGGEST questions, vanishes. With the Lamb there is safety and salvation, without him there is not.

But rather than belabor the point, let us answer the question. “Where is the Lamb for the Sacrifice?”

Isaac was not the Lamb!

Hear that again, Isaac was NOT that lamb! But he was a type or figure of him. Isaac was Christ-like! Like Jesus he was born against all odds. Jesus was born of a Blessed Virgin, Isaac to father and mother who were 99 and 86 years old respectively.

Isaac is the only one of the patriarchs who had one wife – Rebecca; even as our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Bridegroom, has only one Bride – the church.

It is said of Isaac in Genesis 26:12 that, “Isaac reaped a hundred times more than he sowed,” which flies in the face of all scriptural teaching. But it was “because the LORD blessed him.” Yes, Isaac was a figure of the Lamb, but there was no safety to be found in Isaac.

But there is all safety and salvation, every joy and gladness, endless singing and peace in the One who is the True Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. Who carried our sins, every last one of them, to the cross.

“O Christ thou Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us.”

As Isaac carried the wood up to Mt. Moriah, even so Jesus carried the cross to Mt. Calvary.

As the Abraham laid his One and Only and Beloved Son on the altar, even so the Heavenly Father laid the sins of the world on His One and Only and Beloved Son. (John 3:16)

As Abraham bound Isaac with ropes, so Jesus was bound to the cross by nails. But as has so often been said, it was not nails, but love, that kept Jesus on the cross until his last drop of blood had been poured out from his body, separated from his Holy Flesh, and so the Cup is Separate from the Host in Holy Communion.

And there the Lamb that God saw to, and that Abraham also saw with the eyes of faith, (John 8:56) “tasted of death for all men.” (Heb. 2:9).

That is the Lamb that we glorify today. The Lamb who fills our hearts with every joy and gladness, and makes our heads swim as we await “the things that God has prepared for those who love him.” Things that “no eye has ever seen, no ear heard, nor have ever entered into the heart of man.” (1 Cor 2:9)

Moreover, to return to our starting point, Jesus himself is the Lamb and the Offering we offer to God. It is in his name, by his holy life, his redeeming death, and his glorious resurrection, that we enter into God’s presence with all “boldness and confidence.” He who is the Victim and the Priest.

But Jesus does not die again! Scripture makes that perfectly clear. That he died “once, for all,” and that “death no longer has any dominion over him.”

Nonetheless in the Blessed Sacrament we offer Jesus to God. Which means that we approach our God with Jesus leading the heaven-ward procession. With Jesus giving us access to the Father. This is why we elevate Body of Christ to God, and the Blood as well. By these liturgical gestures we are saying to our Heavenly Father that: we believe, and receive all that he has said to us, and given to us, especially Jesus crucified, and now here present in the Bread and the Cup, for the “forgiveness of our sins, life and salvation.”

Where is the Lamb? Here is the Lamb. Take and eat, take and drink. Amen