Himself the Victim and Himself the Priest
Thursday of Pentecost 6
30 June 2016
Sacrifice is a universal characteristic of religious worship. Every religion requires sacrifice. Sacrifices offered in false religions are but faint echoes of the true sacrifice that was offered by Christ to His heavenly Father on our behalf as a merciful and faithful high priest. Lies are always told over against the truth and the best lies are those which include a scintilla of the truth in their telling.
 
False religion makes counterfeit sacrifices, which are always human offerings to the god. These sacrifices purport to please the god through the quality of the offering given. However, they are insufficient because no offering of ours could be of sufficient quality to please God. It is risible to think that God is anxiously waiting to get something from us, as though He has a need which we are satisfying by our offering (Ps 50:7-15). From us God needs nothing.
 
Only what is offered to God perfectly by the perfect One through the Word of God for us poor sinners can avail before God as an adequate sacrifice. There would be no false sacrifices if there were not this one true sacrifice offered to the true God. 
Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Augustine of Hippo

"Unless a true sacrifice was due to the one true God, not even the proudest of demonic spirits, who desire to be worshiped in God's place, could rejoice in the honor of sacrifices. Sacrifice cannot be rightly offered except by a holy and righteous priest. Nor is it a right offering unless that which is offered is received from those for whom it is offered. Nor is it a right offering unless the offering is without fault, so that it may be offered for cleansing the faulty. At least, these things are desired by all who wish sacrifice to be offered for themselves to God.
 
"Who then is so righteous and holy a priest as the only Son of God, who had no need to purge His own sins by sacrifice (Heb 7), neither original sins, nor those which are added by human life? And what could be so fitly chosen by men to be offered for them as human flesh? And what could be so fit for this immolation as mortal flesh? And what so clean for cleansing the faults of mortal men as the flesh born in and from the womb of a virgin, without any infection of fleshly concupiscence? And what could be so acceptably offered and taken, as the flesh of our sacrifice, made the body of our priest? This offering was made in such a way that, when four things are to be considered in every sacrifice: (1) to whom it is offered, (2) by whom it is offered, (3) what is offered, (4) for whom it is offered. The same One and true Mediator Himself, reconciling us to God by the sacrifice of peace, remained one with Him to whom He offered, to unite in Himself those for whom He offered, that He Himself might be in one person both the offerer and the offering."

Augustine, On the Trinity, 4.14
Psalm 50:1-15

The Mighty One, God the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth. Our God comes; he does not keep silence; before him is a devouring fire, around him a mighty tempest. He calls to the heavens above and to the earth, that he may judge his people: "Gather to me my faithful ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!" The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge! Selah "Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, I will testify against you. I am God, your God. Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you; your burnt offerings are continually before me. I will not accept a bull from your house or goats from your folds. For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine. "If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine. Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats? Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,  and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me." (ESV)
Prayer
O Lord Jesus Christ, You are our merciful and faithful High Priest and the true Mediator between God and man. You offered Yourself on the altar of the cross, being both Priest and offering in one person. We poor sinners have been reconciled to God through Your perfect mediation. Grant us so to believe this that we might not be deluded into thinking our offerings work reconciliation with God our heavenly Father, but rather lead us to live in the peace wrought by your perfect sacrifice. Amen
 
For Olivia Taylor, who will undergo orthopedic surgery today, that the Lord would grant her full and complete healing
 
For President Matthew Harrison of the LCMS, that he would be strengthened in body and soul to lead rightly the faithful
 
For Hilary Murray and Nathan Haak, as they prepare to spend their lives together as one man and one woman in holy marriage, that they would be a sign of Christ's love for His bride, the church
 
For all those who are suffering from depression and other psychological burdens, that they might rejoice always in their Lord Jesus Christ who suffered for them
Art: Durer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2016
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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