17 – On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do You want us to make preparations for You to eat the Passover?”
18 – He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with My disciples at your house.'”
19 – So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.
20 – When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve.
21 – And while they were eating, He said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray Me.”
22 – They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely not I, Lord?”
23 – Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray Me.
24 – The Son of Man will go just as it is written about Him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”
25 – Then Judas, the one who would betray Him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” Jesus answered, “Yes, it is you.”
26 – While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to His disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is My body.”
27 – Then He took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.
28 – This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
29 – I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in My Father’s kingdom.”
30 – When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
31 – Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of Me, for it is written: ‘I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.'”
This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
If you’ve attended Redland for the past few weeks then you know we’ve been using our stained glass windows to help illustrate the key events in Jesus’ life and ministry, so that we will be better prepared to share the basic gospel message. Of course I can’t speak for all of you, but from my perspective I would say that looking at these windows in this way has been very helpful when it comes to prompting me to remember and understand the doctrines on which my faith is built. In a very real sense as we’ve “looked” through these windows we’ve been able to “see” important truth, the truth that lost people in our world desperately need to hear.
Tonight we focus on an event in Jesus’ life that has no corresponding stained glass window in our sanctuary. But that’s okay because this particular event doesn’t really need one. I say this because the Lord’s supper is itself a “window” through which we can “look” and see powerful truth. It’s our custom here at Redland to share this supper as a church family several times each year, but my favorite is tonight’s observance, not only because of the unique way we serve it, but also because it is done in memory of that first Thursday night two thousand years ago when our Lord instituted His Supper.
Before we partake, I want us to seek the answer to this question: “What makes this meal that Jesus shared, what makes His Supper so special?”
(1) Well, one answer to this question would be the fact it is based on an old recipe.
As any cook worth his or her apron will tell you-an old tried but true recipe is a precious thing. In our own family I love Sue’s chocolate chip pound cake recipe, and her chicken tortilla soup recipe. My brother loves our mom’s chuck wagon recipe. We love the special way she fries okra. I’m sure you have your own old family recipe favorites. Some of you may even guard those precious old recipes as valuable secrets that are kept within the family as they are passed down from generation to generation.
The Passover meal that Jesus shared with His disciples that night before His arrest was God’s old recipe. It had been handed down from generation to generation for 1500 years! God wanted His chosen people to remember how He saved them from Egyptian bondage. He wanted this memory stamped indelibly on the minds and hearts of all future generations.
Well, how do you do that? How do you insure that people won’t forget something that important? If you put it in a scroll it will interest only the scholarly. Plus in time it will crumble and fade. So God, the Master Teacher, devised the perfect memory method. He commanded His people to reenact that first Passover night every Spring in a ceremonial meal that would appeal to the physical senses of every generation, sight, sound, hearing, touch, and of course taste.
Verses 17-19 tell us that our Lord built His Supper on the recipe for this meal that God had been using for hundreds of years, this meal designed to remind His people that there was a time when they had needed saving-and that He had saved them. If you’ve ever experienced a Passover meal-or Seder-then you know what I’m talking about, for it is a meal of strange recipes and flavors:
- salt water to remind the people of the tears shed during their years of slavery in Egypt;
- bitter herbs, like horseradish, so people would remember the sour flavor of bondage;
- a fruit paste with cinnamon sticks to remind people of making bricks of clay and straw
- and most of all a lamb to remind them of the spotless yearling that was killed by each Hebrew family and whose blood was sprinkled on their doorpost, so the death angel would pass over and spare the life of the firstborn.
I could go on and on listing all the symbolic truth that was “stirred” into this meal according to God’s old recipe. It is literally packed full of symbols of important spiritual truth that taught them about both God’s character and His kingdom. And because it is, in a very real sense, the Hebrew people learned their theology at the supper table.
But the fact is the Passover meal was much more than a meal to remind God’s people of the past, it was also an appetizer to make them hunger for the future. You see, this old recipe foretold another spotless Lamb, the Lamb of God Who would sprinkle His blood on another wooden crossbeam, as He protected us all from death by dying in our place.
Jesus took the old Passover recipe and used it to emphasize this aspect of God’s future plan. He used it to teach His disciples that this old meal was really just the sampling, the sampling of the feast of salvation He would soon bring. On the eve of His death on the cross, Jesus took this old recipe and used it to pique His follower’s taste for the eternal salvation they all hungered for. As He broke the unleavened bread He said, “Take and eat, this is my body.” As He took the cup of redemption He said, “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” In these two statements He instituted His Supper, a meal built on God’s old recipe, a meal that symbolizes the fact that like the Hebrew people, you and I needed saving, and through His atoning death Jesus saved us.
This leads to a second reason this supper is so special.
(2) You see, it is a meal that exposes our hearts.
It is a meal designed to reveal our sin and show us that yes, we do need saving.
Look at our text again. It says that at His Supper table that night Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray Me.” They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely not I, Lord?” Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray Me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about Him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” Jesus answered, “Yes, it is you.” Look at verse 31 where Jesus said, “This very night you will all fall away on account of Me, for it is written: ‘I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.'”
Wouldn’t you say that these are odd statements to make at a supper table? This is a strange meal in that it drives one guest away and leaves the rest unsettled and the Host with a broken heart. The truth is communion is a strange meal, because it is a meal where we open our lives to God’s examination. It is a meal in which we remember our sins, and betrayals, .all those times we broke God’s loving laws in thought, word, actions, and inactions, all the times we broke His heart. Only after repenting of those sins should we partake. This is a meal that should not be trifled with. In 1 Corinthians 11:27-32 Paul warned that this meal should not be taken in an unworthy manner. Now, this does not mean that sinners cannot eat here. Otherwise this room would be empty. But it does mean that we disrespect this meal if we take it without first inviting the Lord’s examination and forgiveness. There is a sense in which this meal is designed to bring out the very worst in us.
Nancy Mairs wrote, “I don’t partake because I’m a good Catholic, holy and pious and sleek. I partake because I’m a bad Catholic, riddled by doubt and anxiety and anger; fainting from severe hypoglycemia of the soul.”
Well, Nancy Mairs is right. In partaking of this supper we admit our sin and need for Jesus’ forgiveness. This is indeed a meal that exposes our hearts, but most of all it exposes the heart of Christ Who found fellowship with the likes of us.
(3) And then finally Jesus’ supper is special because it is a meal that satisfies our deepest hunger.
Last week in my Sunday School class we studied the third chapter of John’s gospel where it tells us about the conversation that Jesus had with Nicodemus. In our study we saw how Nicodemus had everything this world could offer: wealth, education, prestige, even religion, but he was still hungry for something more. As any “Nicodemus” down through the ages would tell you, you can have a full “plate” of the things of earth and still leave the “table” empty. Trying to find satisfaction in the things of this world is like trying to fill your stomach with lettuce, it just doesn’t satisfy.
Years ago Barbara Walters did one of her interview specials in which she talked to three celebrities: Johnny Carson, Johnny Cash, and Walter Cronkite, three “C’s.” Johnny Carson came across as the typical jaded playboy hedonist. Everything he said telegraphed the fact that he was living for pleasure, but having tried everything and been everywhere he was fed up with the whole thing. Walker Cronkite was the suave humanist, the worldly philosopher. Now retired and wealthy, he is enjoying life as best he can. He looked at life rather philosophically, but all he really was saying was, “That’s the way it is.” Both Carson and Cronkite were like the people Isaiah addressed in 55:2 for they had devoted their lives to laboring, “for what does not satisfy.”
Johnny Cash, on the other hand, humbly admitted his background of alcoholism and dope addiction and the fact that he had virtually destroyed a marriage and wrecked his life, trying to satiate his inner hunger for meaning. He openly told Walters that then he had met Jesus. There was a peace in his eyes and contentment in his voice as he spoke of a hope for the future, which neither of the others had. Johnny Cash made it very clear that he had found that Jesus is indeed the Bread of Life, bread that satisfies far more than mere physical hunger.
There are more important hungers in life and we all have them and they can only be satisfied in relationship with Jesus. There is the hunger for truth, and Jesus is the truth, the answer to all of life’s questions. There is the hunger for life, and Jesus alone can give men life, abundant, eternal life. there is the hunger for love, and Jesus alone can give us that love that outlasts even death.
The pleasures of this world are temporary and fading, only a relationship with Jesus can satisfy the immortal longings and the insatiable hunger of the human heart and soul. As St. Augustine once prayed, “Thou hast made us for Thyself and our hearts are restless without Thee.” Only in Jesus do we find food for our souls, food so satisfying that as He says in John 6:35, those who come to Him, “.will never go hungry, and, never be thirsty.” Jesus alone can satisfy our spiritual hunger for He alone is the bread of life.
This supper is meaningful because it reminds us of this truth that all our hungers are satisfied in relationship to Him. s we come to partake of His Supper I invite all Christians present to join us. Even if you are not a member of this church, If you are His, this is yours.
Aaron and I will stand behind the kneeling benches, and after a time of examination and prayer, when you feel ready, come and we will serve you.
Depart In Silence