How the Sinner is Made Holy
WEDNSESDAY, ADVENT 1, 2017
1 There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job, and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God, and turning away from evil. 2 And seven sons and three daughters were born to him. 3 His possessions also were 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and very many servants; and that man was the greatest of all the men of the east. 4 And his sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 And it came about, when the days of feasting had completed their cycle, that Job would send and consecrate them, rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, “Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.
11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; 12 and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this reason He is the mediator of the new covenant, in order that since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
IN THE NAME OF JESUS.
We usually remember the book of Job for the suffering, the affliction Job went through, the temptation this was to his faith, and how the Lord kept him through it all.
But that’s not how the book of Job starts. The account begins with a father’s love for his family. Job’s children would hold feasts in their homes; there was eating and drinking and revelry. Did they sin? Was there drunkenness, immorality? Job didn’t know. But he loved his family. So Job would send for his children, bring them to his home, where he would then have for them the Lord’s Service. There was, the text tells us, burnt offerings. What was the purpose of these sacrifices? To consecrate his children. That is, to sanctify them, to cleanse them of sin, to make them holy before the Lord God.
That’s what sacrifices were for. The Lord had established sacrifice as a gift. Not as a way for the sinner to give something to God, not as a way for a person to buy God off or make up for your sin—but God had established the sacrifice as a gift, as the way ordained by God for the sinner to be gathered to the Lord’s Name, to hear the Lord’s word of Gospel, to receive the gift of sacrifice to which God had bound his word, and in that way, to be made holy.
Only God can make holy. Only God can cleanse the sinner. Only God promises to do this purely out of his grace.
Job knew this; he had taught his family this; and now he gathers his family to the Lord’s Name and makes them holy through the Lord’s gift of sacrifice.
Where the sinner is being made holy, where the sinner is being gathered to the Lord’s Name to receive the forgiveness of all sin, there we find the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is called Holy not only because he is holy, but also because he makes holy. How does the Holy Spirit make the sinner holy? How does he make you and me holy? By gathering us to the gifts of Jesus and bestowing upon us the gift of the sanctifying blood. Hebrews 9:11:
11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; 12 and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
The blood of Christ, who through the Holy Spirit gave himself as the offering without blemish—this blood of Christ crucified cleanses our consciences and makes us holy.
Only the blood of Jesus can cleanse the sinner.
So the Holy Spirit brings that sanctifying blood to us. He does this when he gathers us to the Lord’s Service, to the Name of the Lord, where he then has proclaimed to us the Gospel of Christ crucified for the forgiveness of our sin and he distributes to us the Body and Blood of the cross, cleansing our consciences.
For Job and his family—since they lived several thousand years before the cross—for them and their benefit, the Holy Spirit brought to them the gifts of the cross by establishing for them the gift of sacrifice and the proclamation of the promise. In these gifts, Job and his family were given to find their salvation; by these gifts, the Holy Spirit bestowed upon them the benefits of the promised cross and cleansed their consciences of all sin and shame. So Job, who loved his family, would send for his children and would consecrate them, would make them holy, by offering the Lord’s burnt offerings and commending them to the Lord who loved them.
For us and our families—for we who live after the cross—the Holy Spirit brings to us the gifts of the cross by establishing for us the gift of the Sacrament and the proclamation of the promise of the Gospel. In these gifts, we are given to find our salvation; in these gifts our consciences are cleansed of all sin and shame.
For the Lord who made his Advent into the world by coming as the child of Mary, and who has promised to make his final Advent on the last day when he gathers all his people to himself, the Lord now makes his Advent into our lives by coming to us in his Word of Gospel and in his Sacraments to forgive our sin. There, when he gathers us to his Name to receive his gifts, he is consecrating us, making us holy.
IN THE NAME OF JESUS.