The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

“Jesus Christ the Worthy Sacrifice of the New Law"

By Rev. J. Fuhlrott


"Christ also hath loved us, and hath delivered himself for us, an oblation and a sacrifice to God for an odor of sweetness" (Eph v 2).

Man did not submit his will entirely to the will of his Creator in the state of innocence, still less did he do so in the state of sin.  It was necessary that man should offer this obedience to God.  Man owed to God, his Lord and Creator, a sacrifice.  This necessity of a sacrifice has been recognized by all people, at all times.  There has never been, therefore, a single race in the history of man which has not introduced sacrifices in its religious worship.  For the people of Israel, which God raised up to be His people, so as to preserve in it the belief in the one true God, He Himself ordained sacrifice.  The sacrifice of the old law consisted, according to mosaic law, of bloody and unbloody offerings, which were intended to inculcate the consciousness upon this people, that God was their only and greatest Master, to whom the owed everything, and whom, therefore, they should honor in the highest degree.  Furthermore, this sacrifice especially the sacrifice of atonement, should preserve among the people the consciousness of sins committed. and of the heavy weight of guilt which burdened man, and which must be wiped out, and which would be expiated one day by the promised Redeemer of the world.

Certainly neither this sacrifice of the Jews, still less the various and often sinful sacrifices of the heathen, could suffice to he Almighty for the past sins and offenses of mankind, and He to whom everything belongs could not be propitiated by any of these sacrificial offerings.  To perfect the new law, founded by the Son of God Himself, and in which from the beginning the promised Redeemer was to accomplish the work of redemption, God willed to create for man a better, a more perfect sacrifice - a sacrifice which would be sufficient to afford Him complete satisfaction, and in which man might acknowledge his submission and allegiance in the most perfect way.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God Himself, became this perfect sacrifice of the new law, the promised Redeemer, and this wacrifice shall be the object of our consideration to-day, in which we should consider:

I   - Christ as a sacrifice by His will.
II  - Christ as a sacrifice by His teaching and His deeds.
III - Christ as a sacrifice by His death upon the cross.

The third point we will omit, on account of its great importance, from our meditation to-day, and reserve the same for our special consideration of Good-Friday evening.

I    -  The sacrifices of the Israelites, which God had prescribed for them through Moses, had a proper intention, and a profound meaning, but the Israelites did not, as they were told many times by heir own prophets, augment that sacrifice by its most important ingredient, i.e., with leading a pure and spotless life.

They believed that they had bought the favor of the Almighty with their outward oblations, and had made sufficient satisfaction to God for their sins.  For this reason God told them through His prophets; "I will not take calves out of thy house, nor he-goats out of they flocks" (Ps. xiix. 9), "for I desire mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than holocausts" (Osee vi. 6), and so Jesus came and was the "end of the law" (Rom. x. 4); and by His bloody death offered once and forever the worthy and all-sufficient sacrifice for the sins of men, and brought about the "adoration of God in spirit and in truth" (John iv. 24).

If we look up the writings of the New Testament, we find it repeatedly stated, that it is the duty of man to offer sacrifice to God, that he must love God alone, serve Him and obey Him and consecrate to Him alone all the faculties of his mind and body. (Rom. xii. I; Heb. xiii, 15, 16; Matt. ix. 13, xii. 7).  Jesus Christ came to offer this sacrifice to God, and to teach men anew how they could offer it themselves, and to entirely and perfectly submit His will to His Heavenly Father as the Psalmist said of Him beforehand: "Sacrifice and oblation thou didst not desire; burnt-offering and sin-offering thou didst not require.  Then said I Behold I come.  In the head of the book it is written of me that I should do they will: O my God, I have desired it, and they law in the midst of my heart" (Ps. xxxix).  How perfectly did Jesus Christ solve this problem and sacrifice His will!  From that solemn moment in the simple room of the Virgin Mary at Nazareth, in which she said, "Be it done to me according to thy word" (Luke 1 38), at which moment the Son of God became man, according to the will of His Heavenly Father; until that awful moment in the garden of Gethsemane, in which the Lord Jesus Christ, recognizing the difficulties and the bitterness of this sacrifice of the will, exclaimed, His forehead covered with a bloody sweat; "Father, not my will, but Thine be done" (Luke xxii. 42).  His whole life of thirty-three long years was an uninterrupted sacrifice of the will, an uninterrupted obedience to God His Heavenly Father.  No sooner had Jesus reached the age at which the ordinary child begins to use its reason, that He commenced to overcome His human feelings, His attachment to His parents.  He parted from His dear parents, and said in the temple at Jerusalem; "Did you not know, that I must be about the things that are my Father's?" (Luke ii. 49).  Although He was the Son of God, and equal to the Heavenly Father in eternity, power, holiness, and perfection, yet He submitted His human will to the will of His Father in heaven, as He said Himself; "I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him that sent me" (John vi. 38).  The accomplishment of His Heavenly Father's will was all in all to Him; for its sake He forgot to eat and drink.  On one occasion, tired after a journey, He sat down at Jacob's well.  His disciples had gone to the nearest town to bring food and drink.  meantime the Samaritan woman approached Him, and He instructed her about the kingdom of God.  The disciples, returning, invited their Master to eat, but He spoke these memorable words: "I have meat to eat which you know not; my meat is to do the will of him that sent me" (John iv. 32-34).  Look, dear brethren, at this perfect submission of His won will, the complete surrender of His will to the will of the Almighty, the most perfect sacrifice of His will, although His entire life, from Him conception, from His birth in the stable until the agony in the Garden of Olives, "obedient in all things, obedient even unto death" (Phil. ii. 8).  Trudy, it was a sacrifice worthy of God; it could be, and it must be, acceptable to Him.  The first creatures had denied Him the obedience which was His due; their descendants were just as wicked and refused God the obedience due to Him; and so men went on, and they will never cease to refuse God their obedience.  Through this perfect obedience of Jesus Christ, all man's disobedience, from the very first until the last was expiated; the wrath of God is now propitiated, and He turns a friendly countenance toward His children.  He pardons them, and gives them His grace and His blessing, on account of the obedience of the Redeemer.

II    As Christ made a sacrifice of His will to propitiate the Almighty for man's refusing his obedience, He was also, by His teaching and His life, the most perfect sacrifice for men; for by His teaching and His actions, He showed man how from henceforth God must b3e acknowledged as the Almighty Lord of heaven and earth, and how all men and al nations must serve the true God alone, and, indeed, they must serve Him and adore Him "in spirit and in truth."  This is the purpose of His teaching, and that is the aim of His work, that man may find again the right way to God, and may return to his proper relationship with God.  For this reason he founded a kingdom of God upon earth, Christendom which should be a part of salvation and a place of expiation for all men who would be taken into it.  Christ is the high priest of this exalted new kingdom, who spent His entire pure life as Mediator between God and man.  Through Him alone - this is His teaching - can we come to the Father in heaven; through Him alone can man be saved (John vs. '44, 66; John x. 7, 9; John xiv. 6,7; Acts iv, 12), "Neither is there salvation in any other.  For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved."  "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Rom. iii. 24).

The life of Jesus, therefore, was a life of incessant privation and renunciation, of poverty, by being stripped even of the most necessary things, so that He could say of Himself: "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air nests, but the son of man hath not where to lay his head" (Matt. viii. 20).  Thereby He has taught men to bear poverty for the love of God, and to become poor for the love of God, to renounce property and fortune, wealth and pleasures, so as to honor the Giver of all good gifts.  Hence His teaching: "If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what thou hast, and follow me" (Matt. xix. 21).  Christ is the sacrifice of peace.  Who could fill in the unfathomable breath, which sin had caused, between the Creator and the creature; who could equalize the dreadful disorder into which the creature had fallen, with its Creator, if Christ had not given Himself as a peace offering, whom the prophet proclaimed beforehand as our Prince of Peace (Is ix. 6), whose birth was announced by the angels in songs of peace; "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will" (Luke ii. 14), and He introduces Himself as our peacemaker with these words: "Peach I leave with you, my peace I give unto you" )John xiv, 27).

Christ is the sacrifice of freedom.  Ah, how disgraceful was the condition of slavery in which mankind lay imprisoned, on account of sin!  Man's thoughts and wishes, his actions and undertakings were influenced and hindered by the law of his sinful flesh; we sighed under the dominion of the prince of darkness, as the apostle says: "Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin" (John viii. 34).  Christ snapped these fetters asunder; Christ despoiled Satan of his dominion over us; Christ offered Himself up as a sacrifice, and has made us really free (John viii, 36).  Christ has become the sacrifice for our temporal welfare.  Who could count all the sufferings and troubles and affli8ctions which would have overtaken mankind in consequence of sin, and who could give man the courage and strength to bear them all, to endure all, the sicknesses, and the visitations of sorrow, if Christ had not made Himself a sacrifice for us, and declared: "Come to me, all you that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you" (Matt. xi. 28).

Christ became a sacrifice of love.  Men were the children of God from the beginning, and it was their destiny to be, and to remain eternally the children of God.  But alas! what strife and what enmity, what quarrels and what hatred had sprung up between God and man, and between man and man!  Christ shows us by His example and teaches us by His word, how we can again look upon God as our Father, and how we should love Him; He shows us by His example, and teaches us by His word, how we are to love one another, and to regard one another as children of the one Father.  He makes it a condition of belonging to His kingdom, that we have "love one for another" (John xiii. 35).

Christ has made Himself the sacrifice of our lives.  O how bitter was death, the hardest and the last of the tempral punishments for sin!  Christ, the Lord over life and death, took away the sting of death.  He raised many dead to life again while He was upon earth; He restored health to many sick persons who were near death, and taught them that death is only a sleep, a passing over to a better life without sorrow.  Blest with this conviction, the holy Simeon wished to die (Luke ii. 29), and the Apostle Paul cried out, inspired: "To live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phil. i, 21).

Dear brethren, we have in Christianity, in the kingdom of grace and reconciliation, a sacrifice worth of God, a complete sacrifice.  Jesus Christ took upon Himself our sins, loaded Himself with out guilt, bore for us suffering and sorrow, persecution, hatred and even death itself.  "It behooved him in all things to be made like to his brethren" (Heb. ii. 17).  In all things He He offers Himself to God as a sacrifice, so as to discharge our burden, to exalt us, to sanctify us, and to be our reconciliation.  "Christ is our advocate with the Father, and not for us only, but for the whole world" (I. John ii, 1, 2).

Let us, my dear brethren, acknowledge with gratitude and emotion, what the apostle says: "That, denying ungodliness and worldly desires, we should live soberly, and justly, and godly in this world, looking for the blessed hope and coming of the glory of the great God, and our Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and might cleanse to himelf a people acceptable, a pursuer of good works" (Titus ii, 12-14).  Amen.