Today is called Passion Sunday because the appointed readings
raise our minds from the examination of the nature of sin to the sacrifice
that redeemed us from sin. Thus, today, we are called to begin reflecting
on our Lord's Atonement - his death - in which he made all believers at
one' with his Father by reconciling them in his blood.
Ever since God accepted Abel and his sacrificial lamb (Gen. 4:2, 4),
men have known that the blood of animals, which was regarded as the seat
of life (Gen. 9:4), makes men acceptable to God. In the Office readings
of the past week we have learned how God established a system of sacrifices
which would atone for the sin of his people (Exod. 29:38-30:16, Lev. 6:8-end).
Yet these sacrifices merely established a principle, for they were imperfect
in themselves. They had to be repeated over and over again (Heb. 8:6-10).
No earthly sacrifice or cult could perfectly pay the price of sin.
Sin, being an offence against God, is an infinite offence. Thus only
an infinitely good sacrifice could cancel its effects, but man had nothing
worthy enough to give in sacrifice. So God, in his infinite mercy,
sent his Son to become man, and to offer himself as a worthy sacrifice.
And so a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction
was made for the sins of the whole world' (Cdn 1962 BCP, p. 82).
We receive the benefits of our Lord's Atonement in two ways. First,
our Lord's righteousness is imputed or ascribed to us on the grounds of
our faith. Thus St. Paul can say we are now justified by his blood'
(Rom. 5:9). Second, our Lord's righteousness is also actually infused
or instilled in us, as Christ shares his life with us through the Holy
Spirit (Rom. 5:10, 6:1-11, 8:9-11). And so by growing up every way
into him who is the head, into Christ (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:15).
Though nothing we can do can add anything to Christ's Atonement, nevertheless
we are called upon to satisfy God with repentance and its works.
(Mark 1:14, 15; Matt. 3:8). So let us repent with true sorrow and
full confession, and let us satisfy God with our prayers, our fasts, and
our alms. It is not too late yet this Lent, and the season of Passiontide
is a very fitting time for it. For only by such humiliation can we
be joined with him who came not to be ministered unto, but to minister,
and to give his life a ransom for many' (Matt. 20:28).