November 28, 2015

Drink Offering

Posted in Advent, Atonement, Bread of Life, Incarnation, Lamb of God, Suffering Servant, The Eucharist tagged , , , , at 12:30 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

From the fiery altar in the temple door
Twice daily sacrifice was made from which arose
Sweet savour that was pleasing to the Lord
Who meets His people where His mercy flows.
Tried by fire, the altar sanctified the dead,
And through the death of lambs God’s hand was stayed.
But His thankless children mocked their sovereign Head;
Rebellious, in the wilderness they strayed.
Yet in the fullness of God’s time He sent
Another Sacrifice whose death would end
All types and shadows, for in His first advent
He stooped to tabernacle among sinful men.
The perfect Lamb poured out His sinless blood,
As a drink offering flowing from His riven side
To sanctify the earth with its life-giving flood,
And in His body is the bread of life supplied.

Copyright © 2015 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)

Scriptural context:

Exodus 29

John 6:35

I have had the idea of Christ’s blood as the drink offering on my mind for a while, but as Advent has approached, I felt compelled to complete the thought. The poem needs little explanation, but I do want to call one thing to your attention. I have heard many times that because Jesus is the perfect Son of God, He cannot be defiled by touching sickness or death. To the contrary, anyone who touched Him (like the bleeding woman who touched His garment) or whom He touched (like the son of the widow of Nain) became clean and was restored to abundance of life. Similarly, the earth on which His blood was shed was not defiled as it had been by the blood of Abel but sanctified instead.

But as many times as I had read the book of Exodus, I had never noticed this verse, which is a harbinger of His gracious reversal of the curse of sin:

Seven days thou shalt make an atonement for the altar, and sanctify it; and it shall be an altar most holy: whatsoever toucheth the altar shall be holy. (Exodus 29:37)

I had never considered why the presence of dead animals did not defile the altar. It was because the altar itself made them holy. Praise God for His eternal Son, who sanctifies the whole earth with His glory!

April 18, 2014

Poured Out

Posted in Atonement, Creation, Creator, Eastertide, Good Friday, Holy Spirit, Holy Week, Redeemer, Resurrection, Son of God, Suffering Servant, The Church, Water of Life tagged , at 10:17 am by Teresa Roberts Johnson

The river that poured out from Eden’s garden
And wound its way through time and history
Now flows from heaven’s throne, the font of pardon;
Its water holds the sacred mystery.
Its healing stream delights God’s city;
His people find refreshment for their soul.
Its cleansing power can restore the guilty;
In mercy it will every grief console.
On Golgotha its Source was manifest
When the Creator-King poured out His life.
The soldier pierced the heart of Heaven’s best,
And blood and water flowed to end our strife.
The Temple, briefly razed, would rise again.
The river from its threshold covers sin.

Copyright © 2014 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)

Today is Good Friday. At last evening’s Maundy Thursday mass I was struck by the concept of Jesus’ soul being poured out, mainly because it made me think of two related concepts. The first is the water and blood that flowed from His side when the soldier’s spear pierced through both His soul and that of His dear mother. The second was the prophecy in Ezekiel 47 of a river that would flow from the threshold of the Temple, would grow in influence, and would heal the sea when its water reached that far. That passage is one of my favorites, and it reads much like the creation story, which is only appropriate since it is the prophecy of the re-creation accomplished through the atonement.

Listed below are links to the Scripture passages on which the poem is based.

Genesis 2:8-17

Revelation 22:1-5

Psalm 46:4-5

Isaiah 53:11-12

Psalm 22:13-15

John 19:33-35

Ezekiel 47:1-12

His soul was poured out unto death, but in so doing, He drowned death with life. It is finished, and He is the victor. And thanks be to God, we share in His victory.

June 5, 2013

A Sonnet of Sweat

Posted in Faith, Hope, Incarnation, Lent, Moses, Obedience, Original Sin, Redeemer, Son of God, Son of Man, Suffering Servant, Word tagged , , , at 6:53 am by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Our father Adam tilled the stony ground;
In chains of sin and grief he stumbled, bound.
Anointed by the sweat of his own face,
His efforts could not merit God’s free grace.
In linen garments that prevented sweat,
The Levite servants never could forget
Their labor could not pay the price of sin,
But pointed to the One who can save men.
Our Saviour, deep in prayer, sweat drops of blood.
In anguish He endured the wrathful flood,
Though never disobedient, He became
The price of sin to wash away our shame.
And when His work was finished, He proclaimed
Salvation to all men who trust His name.

Copyright © 2013 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)

Recently I became interested in the parallel between the pronouncement on Adam that he would earn his living through the sweat of his brow and the account of Jesus in the Garden sweating great drops of blood. The title of the poem is not glamorous, but neither is sin. There is such profound grace to be found in the words of St. Paul to the Ephesians: “Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2:9)

May we always glory in the Cross, for there is no glory in our own frail frame.

I started this about a week ago and completed it this morning, 5 June 2013.

September 12, 2011

It Is Finished

Posted in Atonement, Cain, Good Friday, Suffering Servant tagged at 9:11 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Weeping, Eve beheld her murdered son,
Slain as he was by treacherous transgression.
Lost forever to her, he was cursed,
And she was left to mourn for family dispersed.
Two sons, one slaughtered thus by sin but living still,
Who had in envy sought his brother’s blood to spill.

Though drowned in grief, her eyes of faith could see
Another mother weeping just as she.
Her Son, too, killed by sin one dreadful day,
But by His blood the curse is washed away.
Sweet Mary gazing back at Eve through woe
Says “My Son’s death will crush our common foe.”

Copyright © 2011 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)

The juxtaposition of the images of Eve and St. Mary standing beside their murdered sons sets the stage for a dialog that “squints” across time, in much the same way that the curse on Satan looks across history from Eve to St. Mary. The first verse slowly unfolds events from Genesis 4 in reverse chronology, briefly misleading the reader to think that when Eve’s “murdered son” is mentioned, the intent is Abel. Instead, the phrase refers to Cain. Eve’s sin unleashed an enmity that has been played out in the heart of her own family; in pain she brought forth children and in even greater pain she lost two of them. When Cain killed his brother, the righteous son died to life, but Cain lived to die, murdered by his own sin. Perhaps the saddest verse in the Bible is Genesis 4:16, “Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD.” We simply have no idea of the damage we do to our own souls when we war against righteousness.

We also have no idea how much suffering our sins brought upon the righteous Son of God, who was the Son of Man, Seed of the woman promised in Genesis 3:15. St. Mary’s Son was like righteous Abel, in that His blood was shed because of sin, but whereas Abel’s blood could only cry out from the ground to be avenged, the blood of Jesus “speaks better things” (Hebrews 12:24), as it covers our sins and provides atonement. Finally, the poem provides some hint of the suffering of St. Mary in watching her Son die an ignoble death, taking on the sins of the world. She, too, brought forth a child in sorrow, and her sorrow was mingled with joy when the sword pierced through her own soul as the sword pierced the side of her Son, bringing forth blood mingled with water. (Those ideas need their own poem!)

The original date on this poem is 13 July 2007 (time-stamped 6:23 AM!), which would have been a few months after I started seminary. There have been several revisions along the way, but except for St. Mary’s sentence, the changes involved mostly a word here and there. The title clause was originally included in the final line, but in posting it today, I changed St. Mary’s brief speech to echo the curse that God placed on Satan, the curse that mentioned the Seed of the woman. Making “It is finished” the title emphasizes the work of Christ as He accomplished all that was required for our atonement.

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