What We Do When We Do Church – Agnus Dei

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

– John 1:29

Before we actually receive the Lord’s Supper, we sing the Agnus Dei.

These incredible words, coupled with the kyrie, help us focus on what we are about to receive in, with, and under the bread and the wine of the Lord’s Supper.

The previous devotions in this series are:

Part 1 – Hymnody
Part 2 – Invocation
Part 3 – Baptism
Part 4 – Confession of Sins
Part 5 – Absolution
Part 6 – Introit / Psalmody
Part 7 – Kyrie
Part 8 – Hymn of Praise
Part 9 – Scripture Readings
Part 10 – Sermon
Part 11 – Confession of Faith
Part 12 – Offering
Part 13 – Offertory
Part 14 – Prayer
Part 15 – “Our Father”
Part 16 – “Hallowed Be Thy Name”
Part 17 – “Thy Kingdom Come”
Part 18 – “Daily Bread”
Part 19 – “Keep Us From Evil”
Part 20 – “Amen and Amen!”
Part 21 – Preface and Proper Preface
Part 22 – Sanctus
Part 23 – The Lord’s Supper

It was a beautifully cool spring morning. Adam and Benjamin – best friends since forever – were nearly at the top of the hill where they could see across the little valley into the main city. In the bottom of the valley a little brook reflected the morning sunlight beautifully.

Today they were going to have a contest. As they took refuge in the shade of the olive trees, their contest was to see who would be the first one to see the little brook turn red that morning.

Adam and Benjamin were sitting on the Mt. of Olives across from Jerusalem and it was the week of Passover. Hundreds of lambs were being slaughtered in the Temple for the Passover Celebration. So many that the blood would drain out of the city through the sewer system into the Brook Kidron, turning its waters red.

Image result for Agnus deiSeveral weeks earlier, and northeast of Jerusalem at the Jordan River, John the Baptist saw his cousin Jesus and proclaimed, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

Jesus is the fulfillment of all the sacrifices of the Old Testament that were made to atone for the sins of the people. Many of those sacrifices – and the most prominent ones at Passover and Yom Kippur – involved lambs (or goats).

Now Jesus comes and becomes the ultimate, fulfilling, and perfect Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Jesus does this by shedding His blood and dying on the cross. His death means our life. His shed blood cleanses us from all sin.

The night before Jesus died, He instituted what we call the Lord’s Supper. In this meal, Jesus – through His Word – puts His body and blood in, with, and under the bread and wine.

The bread and wine do not merely represent Jesus’ body and blood. His words are “this is my body … this is the new testament (covenant) in my blood.”

Just as Jesus didn’t merely represent to John the Baptist all the lambs of sacrifice in Jerusalem through the years. John proclaims Jesus to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

So as we prepare to approach the communion rail to receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ, we sing, “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, have mercy on us.”

And He does. Have mercy on us. He sacrificed Himself to save us from all our sins. He gives us forgiveness, life and salvation in the Sacrament.

He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!

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