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stewardship - april2014Jesus is the Lamb of God, who by His death takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29).

John’s Gospel takes great pains to show us that the crucifixion and death of Jesus coincides with the slaughter of the lambs for the Passover Feast (John 18:39; 19:31). That means also that the day of our Lord’s resurrection from the dead coincides with the wave offering of the first fruits of the barley harvest (Lev 23:9–14). The risen Jesus, then, is a wave offering to the Father as the true bread of life come down from heaven, whose risen and living flesh and blood makes us acceptable to the Father (Lev 23:11). By it, our sins are forgiven and in Him, we have life. This marks us as those whom the angel of death will pass over, those who are marked by the blood of the Lamb for life (Exod 12:13).

St. Paul picks up on this theme: “Christ has been raised from the death, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor 15:20, 23). We are acceptable to the Father because the first fruits of the harvest of those who have fallen asleep, our Lord Jesus Christ, has been offered and accepted. The offering is holy, and so then the rest of the harvest is also holy (Rom 11:16). This is the generosity of the Father toward us. He offered His Son as the first fruits of those who die, so that we may be acceptable to Him, be reconciled to Him and to one another.

Christ was offered to the Father for us. He was crucified for our transgressions and raised for our justification (Rom 4:25). We are acceptable to God the Father by His grace on account of the death and resurrection of Jesus through faith. This is God’s generosity. This is his love. That while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us and was raised so that the Father would receive us back and that we, in Christ, would be acceptable to Him.

And this is what we celebrate in Holy Week. This is what we sing about and ponder on Good Friday and Easter. We meditate on God’s love for us and His generous offering of His Son. We have been making our way to the cross and the empty tomb throughout Lent with this singular focus: God by His grace and mercy has redeemed us, forgiven us, sanctified us, and found us acceptable in His sight because of Jesus.

In the same way then, we who have received such mercy and grace from God our Father, who have then been the beneficiaries of His generosity are to be generous with all that He has given us. He has given us all that we have for this body and life and sanctified it for use in His service.

Your reason and senses, your clothing and shoes, your house and your home, your income—all that you are and have—are sanctified, made holy, for use in service to him. You are holy and so what you say, what you do, and what you give is holy too. God, by grace, has accomplished it, but He brings you into this service. He makes you fellow workers. Just as Christ is the first fruits to make you acceptable, you are living sacrifices to the Lord, holy and acceptable. Everything you do and are is employed by God, put into the service of the Gospel for the life of the world.

Your lives, your giving, your conversations as fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, citizens and workers proclaim this reality “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” With the blood of the Lamb upon you, by water and word, bread and wine, all that you do and give is put into the Lord’s work of making those around you acceptable in Him who died but was raised. For He has died. But He is risen. He is risen indeed! Alleluia!