The LORD called Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: When any one of you brings an offering to the LORD, you shall bring your offering of livestock from the herd or from the flock. If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish. He shall bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the LORD. He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. Then he shall kill the bull before the LORD, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall bring the blood and throw the blood against the sides of the altar that is at the entrance of the tent of meeting.”Leviticus 1:1-5
Jesus fulfills this sacrifice as the male without blemish, meaning He was perfect—faultless. God accepted Him to make atonement for the sins of the whole world (John 1:29; 3:16). Just as Aaron’s sons, the priests, had to throw the blood of the animal on the altar, so Jesus’ blood—the sacrificial Lamb—covered the “altar” of Mt. Calvary. Just as there was blood and water present at this type of sacrifice (vv. 10-13), so blood and water were present at Jesus’ atoning death (John 19:33-34). Just as Aaron the high priest laid his hands on the faultless male without blemish that took upon the sins of Israel and died, so Christ our High Priest took our sins upon Himself and died (Hebrews 9:11-10:14), His blood pouring upon the altar of Mt. Calvary, justifying us by faith (Romans 5:1-9). We call this His objective justification, that on the cross Jesus died for the entire world without distinction and exception (John 3:16) and was raised for our justification.
At the same time, we receive justification personally (subjective justification) in the Word and Sacraments. That is, the accomplishment of Jesus’ saving work on the cross (objective justification) is personally applied to the individual (subjective) when he or she believes (receives faith) through the proclaimed Word and receives the forgiveness of sins and the strengthening of faith in the Sacraments (Lord’s Supper, Baptism). For now, we will focus briefly on the Lord’s Supper.
When you drink the wine and eat the bread, you are eating and drinking Christ’s true body and blood that were broken and shed for you on the cross. What Jesus did for you on the cross He gives to you in the Supper He instituted, for “without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness of sins” (Hebrews 9:22). “This is My body, this is My blood,” Jesus said, “which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:26-28). This shows us “that in the Sacrament forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us through these words. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation” (SC, The Sacrament of the Altar). Is always means is. Therefore, when you eat His body and drink His blood in the Holy Supper, you literally consume what He accomplished on the cross: His saving work to grant you eternal salvation.
Theology Terms Used
- Atonement: the act of removing a wrong to be reconciled to God.
- Objective Justification: the doctrine that teaches that Jesus died for the entire world without distinction and exception (John 3:16) and was raised for our justification. When this justification is personally applied, it is called subjective justification.
- Subjective Justification: Objective justification made personal, that is, applied to the individual. The accomplishment of Jesus’ saving work on the cross (objective justification) is personally applied to the individual (subjective) when he or she believes (receives faith) through the proclaimed Word and receives the forgiveness of sins and strengthening of faith in the Sacraments (Lord’s Supper, Baptism).