Thursday, March 12, 2009

One Last Meal

One Last Meal

Intro.: Have you ever noticed how, sometimes, the best things in life happen right along side the worst things in life.
  1. A story that surfaces every so often when a grandparent, an uncle, or an aunt dies on the very day that a grandchild is born.

  2. I hope you have never experienced this type of tragic event.. It is a mix of emotions that seems at the time almost too hard to endure.

  3. I was reading this week of a mom to be that was within two weeks of her due date and her grandmother was near death. To compound matters, the due date was the birth date of the grandfather. She was close to tears as she wrote for advice on how to handle the mix of feelings that were her life – even while she dealt with the emotions that go with being nine months pregnant.1

  4. Tears came to my eyes as I considered her concerns, but I left the question unanswered – I did not know what to saw. Perhaps it was one of those times that silence is a better answer than trying to ease the pain.

  5. That is a sad story – I sort of had the same emotions when I reread today's passage. Here, in a few short verses, we are introduced to one of the worst events of history and one of the very best event in history. We are introduced to the man who betrayed Jesus and we are a witness to the very first celebration of the Lord's Supper.

Read: Matthew 26:17-30


T.S. Let's look at the three events that define our passage.

  1. Jesus is in charge

    1. We sometimes look at the events in Jesus life as if they happen to Him by pure coincidence.

    2. Yet it is important to realize that He is still in control even as the worst event of His life are about to occur.

    3. Jesus gives the instructions for setting up for the Passover. A couple of things make this particular celebration stand out.

    4. First, there is no mention of lamb being prepared or served during the dinner. Remember that Passover was a celebration of the night that God protected the first born of the Jews just prior to their departure from Egypt. God had the Jews paint their door posts with lambs blood. And to remember that night, they were to serve lamb at the passover. But none of the gospels mention the serving of lamb.

    5. There is another distinction – this Passover mean is being served a day early. Normally, the Passover meal would be served on Friday evening. But, the rules for the Passover declare that the sacrificial lamb be slaughtered on Friday – and that is when Jesus is to be crucified.

    6. But in all of this Jesus is in control. Important to remember that as we continue to look the events surrounding the crucifixion, that they did not just happen to Jesus. He was a willing sacrifice, He was a willing sacrifice because He loved us and He wanted to set us free from the sin that trapped us until the ultimate sacrifice had been made.

  2. Jesus' betrayer

    1. When the night arrives, Jesus and His disciples gather in the upper room that has been prepared for Him. It probably was the home of a wealthy man – only the wealthy would own a home with a second story in the 1st century. The second story would usually be a large room suitable for parties. And this is where Jesus has chosen to share the Passover meal with His disciples.

    2. I don't know what was done during the day on Thursday, but Jesus gathers his disciples together for the ir final meal before the crucifixion.

(Ill.) The traditional Passover meal begins with a call to remember:

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, has desired us, and has given us, in love and good will, His holy Sabbath as a heritage, in remembrance of the work of Creation; the first of the holy festivals, commemorating the Exodus from Egypt. For You have chosen us and sanctified us from among all the nations, and with love and good will given us Your holy Sabbath as a heritage. Blessed are You, Lord, who sanctifies the Sabbath.2

    1. Matthew is writing for a Jewish audience – and they would be expecting Jesus to follow the traditional passover service. But it doesn't begin that way. Instead Jesus begins by saying, “One of you who is eating with me now will betray me.” Luke adds enough details that tell us that the disciples were caught by surprise; you can almost hear them asking each other, “Is it I?”'

    2. It came as a surprise to the disciples – they had come to expect Jesus' death, but for one of their own to be part of it. “No way.”

    3. But one man at that table knew the truth. So as the commotion dies down there is one more voice. It comes from the groups treasure – Judas Iscariot. “Is it I?

    4. And you can hear Jesus reply, “You have said it yourself.

(Appl.) I think we would have been shocked as well. Here is a man who has spent three years with Jesus. Eating with Him, listening to Him, watching Him. Yet he never comes to believe. You see, it is not what we do, it is not how many times we are in church, it is not how often we read scripture. These all described Judas – yet, he will suffer the consequences of his decisions. The thing that distinguishes Christian from the world is our faith. Faith in a God who loves us, faith in a God who sent His Son to safe us. Leaves a question, what are you doing to try to earn your way into heaven? You can never do enough. Have you placed your faith in Jesus Christ? That is what He meant when He said, “No one can come to the Father except by me.” Where is your faith today?

  1. Jesus calls us to remember

    1. Communion means many things to many people. It is not my job here to convince you that I am right and you are wrong. What I would like to do is point out two truths that we cannot ignore.

    2. The first is this – Christ commanded it to be part of what we as the church do. As believers we are expected to be obedient in all things. Luke adds the words “... do this in remembrance of me” to the instructions given to the disciples. Remember that Luke is the most scholarly, a doctor, of the four gospel writers. He wants to put as much information as can into the scroll he is composing. Does he include everything? No – but, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, he includes a few pieces of information that he had discovered into his gospel. Paul records similar words in I Corinthians. As believers, we are called to remember what Christ did when we take communion.

(Ill.) One of my favorite topics, both now and in seminary, is/was theology. One of the authors I really enjoyed skimming for help in understanding of concepts was a man by the name of Charles Hodge. His son, Alexander Hodge, went on to become a leader in the Presbyterian Church. During the last half of the 19th century he served, as did his father, as the chair of the Department of Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary. Alexander Hodge pointed out that we cannot divide our lives into secular and sacred. If we are willing to be obedient to Christ in such matters as church attendance and communion, we also need to be obedient in how He calls us to live our lives. “The kingdom of God includes all sides of human life, and it is a kingdom of absolute righteousness. You are either a loyal subject or a traitor. When the king comes, how will he find you doing?”3

    1. The second lesson is this. When we share the communion meal, Christ is truly here with us. No surprise – He has said wherever two or three of us are gathered, He is there. He has just as clearly said, “This is my body” and “this is my blood”.

(Ill.) Edwin Lutzer noted that Philip Melanthon was concerned that meaning of the Lord's Supper has created so much strife that it has brought him to tears. Lutzer goes on to wonder, if our generation's indifference to its meaning and importance might not be more worthy cause of tears today.4

    1. In just a minute we will be sharing communion. We will serve it similar to how Jesus may have shared the elements during that first celebration of the Lord's Supper. As we take communion today, remember:

      1. Christ commanded that we share it together.

      2. Christ is with us as we share the elements together.

(Ill.) A well known preacher once said, “The Lord’s Supper should be the crowning service in the church, and thus be earth’s nearest approach to heaven.” May it be so today.



3Hodge, Archibald A. Princeton College theologian. A.A. Hodge, “EvangelicalTheology”: (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust,1873, 1977), pp. 280-281. Gary DeMar, 4 (Atlanta, GA: AmericanVision Press, 1982), pp. 70-71. Found in Federer, W. J. (2001). Great Quotations : A Collection of Passages, Phrases, and Quotations Influencing Early and Modern World History Referenced according to their Sources in Literature, Memoirs, Letters, Governmental Documents, Speeches, Charters, Court Decisions and Constitutions. St. Louis, MO: AmeriSearch. Federer, W. J. (2001).

4Erwin W. Lutzer, “Deserving of Tears,” Moody, February 1984, 127. Found in Morgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson's complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed.). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

No comments: