Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Thursday, April 13, 2017
Passover Turned Lord’s Supper - April 13, 2017 - Maundy Thursday - Text: Matt. 26:17-30; Mark 14:12-26; Luke 22:7-24; 1 Cor. 11:17-32
On this Maundy Thursday evening, the night in which Jesus, celebrating the Passover Seder, His last earthly celebration with His disciples, we come to be given His gift of the Means of Grace of the Lord’s Supper. We do this, we celebrate by listening to the four accounts we have of Jesus giving us His Holy Supper. Indeed, just as many witnesses are called forth to testify in a court of law, so here we call forth four witnesses to testify what we believe concerning the Lord’s Supper.
In His Gospel account Matthew tells us that, “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?’ 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.”’ So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover. When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he 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’” (Matthew 26:17-25). There continues to be some debate as to whether or not Judas stayed or left at this time. Matthew continues by writing, “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.’ Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 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.’ When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives” (Matthew 26:26-30). It was after this that Jesus was arrested, tried, convicted and put to death.
In his Gospel account Mark tells us, “on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, ‘Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?’ So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, ‘Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. Say to the owner of the house he enters, “The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?” He will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.’ The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover. When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, ‘I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.’ They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, ‘Surely not I?’ ‘It is one of the Twelve,’ he replied, ‘one who dips bread into the bowl with 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’” (Mark 14:12-21). Here again, Mark does not necessarily tell us whether Judas stayed for the evening meal or not. Mark continues by writing, “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take it; this is my body.’ Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,’ he said to them. ‘I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.’ When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives” (Mark 14:22-26). Again, it was after this that Jesus was arrested, tried, convicted and put to death.
In his Gospel account Luke begins by talking about the day of Unleavened Bread. “Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, ‘Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.’ ‘Where do you want us to prepare for it?’ they asked. He replied, ‘As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, and say to the owner of the house, “The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?” He will show you a large upper room, all furnished. Make preparations there.’ They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover” (Luke 22:7-13). Up until this point, Luke makes no mention of the accusation against the one disciple who was to betray Jesus, instead he simply makes note of the meal. Luke continues by writing, “When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.’ After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, ‘Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table” (Luke 22:14-21). Here, Luke finally mentions the one who was to betray Jesus, thus indicating that Judas was there during the meal. And Luke concludes, “The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed, but woe to that man who betrays him.’ They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this. Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest” (Luke 22:22-24). This is where we will leave off with Luke’s Gospel. Later, Luke tells us, Jesus went out to the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives to prayer. There He was arrested. He was taken to trial, where He was tried, convicted and sentenced to die.
The Gospel writer John does not give us specifics of the meal itself, but he does give us some indication of who was at the meal. “After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, ‘I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me.’ His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, ‘Ask him which one he means.’ Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, ‘Lord, who is it?’ Jesus answered, ‘It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.’ Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. ‘What you are about to do, do quickly,’ Jesus told him, but no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night” (John 13:21-30). Here again, we have no indication whether this was before or after Jesus had eaten the Passover Seder meal with His disciples.
Finally we have Paul’s account of the Last Supper. Paul’s account was not an eyewitness account however Paul assures us of the accuracy of his word because it is not his own words but God’s Word. Paul says, “in the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. When you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk. Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you for this? Certainly not!” (1 Corinthians 11:17-22). Here Paul is outlining the problem of this particular Christian congregation. To help us to better understand what was going on, Paul continues, “For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). Here Paul connects the problems this church is facing with the giving of the Lord’s Supper.
Finally Paul helps us to clarify what was happening, “Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world” (1 Corinthians 11:27-32). The problem that the people were having is that they were not recognizing the Body and Blood of Christ in this meal, that this meal was the Lord’s Supper, that is what brought about all the other problems, the eating without each other, the drunkenness, and so forth. If they had recognized the Body and Blood of Christ, that this was His supper, then these other problems would have been corrected.
What we celebrate in the Lord’s Supper is something different, something special, something extraordinary given to us by Jesus. This Supper given to us by Jesus is not simply a meal of eating bread and drinking wine, rather it is more, it is actually eating and drinking of the body and blood of Jesus, the one sacrificed for our sins, thus participating in His sacrifice, making Him a part of us and His sacrifice a part of us. Remember, Jesus was celebrating the Passover meal, the meal in which the people actually ate the sacrificed lamb so that it became a part of them. In the same way, as Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, so we actually eat His body and drink His blood so that it becomes a part of us. This Supper is not something which was a symbolic act, because none of the writers spoke in these terms and besides, how can one symbolically eat and drink a sacrifice or how is a sacrifice symbolically a part of someone? These are the words of Jesus in His Holy Word, thus, we are compelled to believe Jesus’ words that He took bread and said “this is my body.” He took the wine and said, “this is my blood.” These are Jesus’ own words and what He is giving and so we are given as He gives, thus He becomes a part of us so that His perfect life, suffering, death and resurrection become our perfect life, suffering death and resurrection. Finally we are left to rejoice and say, to Him be the glory, for His name’s sake. Amen.