Maundy Thursday Online Worship
Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior -- Jesus Christ. Amen.
22 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them and said, "Take, eat; this is My body." 23 Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 And He said to them, "This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many. 25 "Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God." (NKJV)
I know it is kind of spooky talking about it now, seeing that the rabbi Jesus was killed a few days ago, but I want to tell you what I saw and heard last Passover in the upper room. Yeah, I know what you are thinking, what can you believe coming from the mouth of a slave, but let me tell you, I may be a slave and I've seen a lot of things but that rabbi Jesus of Nazereth, he was different than all the rest.
At any rate it was the festival of unleavened bread, and the strangest thing happened, the master of the house, My boss said he was just returning from the well with a pitcher of water and these two men followed him all the way home. Just when he thought they were part of the resistance against Rome effort, they asked him where the guest room was and if they could rent it for the evening for the festival meal, a lamb, 1 year old, nothing wrong with it -- its a tradition we've had since our fathers were slave in Egypt.
Well they all started showing up for the meal, all of them following Jesus. I had heard a lot about Him, but it was the first time I had seen him. May not be the best looking guy, but he sure commands attention.
Any way as they came in, they were all arguing, sort of under their breath -- about which of them was the greatest -- funny thing, here they followed this Jesus and he obviously ran the show and they were arguing about which of them was greatest. If I hadn't been close I wouldn't have known what they were saying. I guess I wish I hadn't heard their arguement it reminded me of the Pharisees.
They all reclined at the table for the meal. Some of them still mumbled about who was the greatest. But Jesus was quiet. He seemed deep in thought and yet the most approachable man you'd ever want to know.
Suddenly Jesus spoke up, he said in a low but powerful voice ---
"With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;" (Luke 22:15 NKJV)
Yeah, he really said that. Yeah, I know It seems kind of spooky even to repeat his words to you now, it was like he knew he was gonna die, and that was his last meal.
Well, we had work to do, so we began the traditional preparations for the meal. As we did I heard Jesus take up the first cup of wine and give the blessing, like every other red-blooded Jew was doing that night. He said -- "Blessed art Thou, Jehovah our God, who hast created the fruit of the vine."
As we all know it’s traditional to pass the water basin around so everyone can wash their hands before eating. But before anyone could say anything Jesus got up and took his cloak off. The disciples just sat their with their mouths open wondering what he was doing. I would of helped him, but at the time I wondered myself what he was doing.
Then he did it, the lowest job, the one we slaves hate the worst -- he did. He started washing their feet one by one. He was their teacher, and they were His followers, and He washed their feet. They were all shocked, none more than the one who seemed always to talk the loudest, Peter. He tried to stop Jesus from washing his feet, but the teacher said something to him, and he just let him.
When he got done they all washed their hands like nothing happened and Jesus picked up the first loaf of bread.
Naturally he broke it in half, and breaking off a piece, dipped it in the bitter herbs and vinegar and sent the remainder around the table, leaving half for the end of the meal. I had to leave the room for a second to get the lamb and the rest of the food, but when I got back, they were mumbling real loud about someone betraying someone. I didn't really put two and two together until later. Things seemed normal enough, Jesus lifted the second cup of wine and gave thanks for it -- "Blessed art Thou, Jehovah our God, King of the Universe, who hast redeemed us and redeemed our fathers from Egypt."
It’s at this point in most Passover meals that the family members start asking for the head of the family to explain the reason for the bitter herbs, unleavened bread and lamb. I don't remember if they discussed our forefathers escape from Egypt. But as they were washing their hands the second time, I heard Jesus say something about one of them betraying Him. I figured he just wanted to get their attention again, but they all took him seriously.
I happened to be by Jesus, and I heard one of them lean over and ask Him who the one was who would betray Him -- like he would know. Real plain like, Jesus said,
"It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it. And when He dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon", the treasurer. (John 13:26 NKJV).
Now mind you I was pretty busy then because the meal officially begins after the second cup of wine, but I know I saw Jesus dip the sop (that's what we call the bread and sauce) and give it to Judas and then whisper something to him. All of a sudden, Judas got up and left. I heard more whispering after Judas left, and it sounded like the disciples thought he was off to get something he forgot.
The meal continued, I know, I’m getting to the point. They ate the second and third pieces of bread leaving just that last half.
Then something really strange happened -- that's what I want to tell you about. Jesus blessed the bread, broke it into small pieces and gave it to everyone. (yeah, I know that isn't strange,) but let me tell you what He said, He said --
"Take, eat; this is My body."
Then he took the last cup of wine, you know, the "cup of blessing" and He gave thanks and Jesus gave it to them and he said,
"This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many. Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God."
Then before you know it they were done, and after they sang a hymn they left, went out into the darkness, and I never saw them again.
In the Name of Jesus, the True Paschal Lamb,
Whose body and blood have appeased God's wrath --
Dear friends in Christ --
Please pardon my attempt to paint in detail the events recorded by three of the four Gospels and the Apostle Paul. We are reminded that Jesus is the true Passover Lamb. He is the fulfillment of the picture of the Passover lamb.
For as the blood of the Passover lamb reminded the people of how God was merciful and the Angel of Death had passed over those houses with the doorposts painted in its blood, in a similar way the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God, has stayed God's anger forever.
Where the flesh of the Passover lamb strengthened the people for their journey out of Egypt into the promised land, so the supper of the Son of God assures us that we also shall see the promised land of heaven.
It was into this context and into this meal, that God, by his grace and mercy gave to us the Sacrament of the Altar, wherein we receive the body and blood of the Lamb of God, who was slain for all sinners of all time.
"For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us."
(1 Corinthians 5:7 NKJV)
Why did He have to die? Was it all just a big misunderstanding?
Jesus' death was necessary because mankind's response to God's command -- "You shall be Holy for I the Lord thy God, am Holy" was one of indifference and rebellion. Ever since Adam's fall into Sin, mankind's natural response to God's command to be holy and righteous -- is to disobey it.
Jesus' death was necessary to pay for the sins of humankind. When I say humankind, I don't mean everyone else, I mean you and me. Jesus death wasn't only necessary to pay for the sins we consider to be grievous like, Theft, Murder, Adultery, Abortion -- but also for those thoughts of lust, hatred. For the times we spoke evil of someone to make ourselves look better. For all the times we were disobedient to our parents, or took the name of the Lord in vain. Jesus’ blood was shed on the cross to pay for my sins and yours. On Calvary, God vented His righteous anger on His Son, so that we might be saved through faith in Him. For this reason, the writer to the Hebrews says:
"He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance." (Hebrews 9:15 NKJV)
Jesus' death has satisfied God’s righteous anger forever. Only the blood of the Son of God could pay for sins.
The blessings of Jesus blood become ours when God calls and invites us to believe in Jesus through the voice of His word. It is then, by the gift of faith granted by the Holy Spirit -- that we see what Jesus gruesome death
really means to us -- freedom from sin, death and hell.
The blessings of the Body and blood of Jesus become our own by faith in His sacrifice. Our good deeds earn nothing toward our Justification -- the blood of Jesus Justifies and saves, as the Apostle Peter wrote in his first letter –
"... you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. " (1 Peter 1:18-19 NKJV)
We also note that the Lord’s Supper was first given to his disciples, to a close circle of men who had followed Him for 3 years. They were by no means perfect, they were still sinners, but they trusted in Him. It was not to 5,000 that Jesus spoke these words, but to a handful of disciples,
"Take, eat; this is My body and Take, Drink ye all of it, This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many."
Jesus gave His supper to His disciples, to men who confessed their faith in Him. They recognized this truth and later, when they again celebrated the Lord’s Supper, they only admitted those whose confession of faith they knew to partake in the breaking of bread -- the Lord's Supper.
Jesus’ body and blood were given and shed for many -- indeed for the sins of the world, but this supper was given to those that confessed their faith in Jesus. They believed and confessed that He was the Christ the Son of God. So also, when we celebrate the Lord's supper, we do so with those who share the same confession of faith, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.
We want to follow the admonition of 1 Corinthians, where it says:
"Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." (1 Corinthians 1:10 NKJV)
When a person gets sick, the doctor doesn't just haphazardly prescribe just any medicine, but when he has seen the symptoms and tested, he then carefully prescribes the right medicine, for the right person at the right time.
Jesus' prescription to strengthen and preserve the faith of his people is the Lord's Supper. The Sacrament of Holy Communion was given to keep us spiritually healthy, and to preserve us from Judgment.
Therefore, we also want to make sure – best we can – that those who join with us also know what they receive and what it means. We want to make sure that they do not eat and drink without understanding. It’s for this reason that we do not commune those who do not confess the same faith, who do not profess that Jesus body and blood are present, to those living in open sin and unrepentant, or to those who defend some unbiblical teaching, because says the Word of God –
"Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. "
In the early church, only confirmed members were allowed to watch it! Sadly, lots of other Christians today see us as exclusivists because we hold to the practice of Close Communion. They mistakenly think that we are saying that they are not going to heaven because they are not members of our church. They think that we are saying that they are second rate Christians, by not admitting them to the Lord's Table in our midst.
It is Christian love and concern that motivates us to observe this practice. Even as the disciples believed Jesus' words about the Lord's Supper, so should those who partake of it today -- or it will be of no value.
Now I know it sounds unreasonable that the disciples believed that within the cup Jesus held in His hand was also his blood, and that the bread that he broke and gave to them was his body, but that is what He said.
How it can be….we have no right to ask -- if the son of God says it is so, it is so. How silly it would be to question the Almighty as to How it could be, or worse to try to confine the eternal God by the physical laws of this earth, which he created. Yet we Christians do not question how this could be for the Apostle Paul also says in His letter to the Corinthians --
"The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?"` (1 Corinthians 10:16 NKJV)
This question is rhetorical. It expects a yes answer, Yes, the cup of blessing isn't just wine, but is the communion of the blood of Christ; and the bread is the communion of the body of Christ, both bread and body.
Therefore its clear from Scripture that both body and blood are present in, with and under the bread and wine. How this can be we do not need to know, but we do know that they do not merely represent his body and blood as some teach, nor are they physically changed miraculously into only body and blood.
This supper, this food is not for bodily sustenance but for the strengthening of the soul. It is a supernatural reception and a spiritual eating and drinking in with and under the bread and wine. It is not an unbloody sacrifice for sins, because Jesus blood is alone sufficient to pay for sins, and He has already paid the price.
How could Jesus in a more personal way give and bestow the forgiveness of sins to believers -- than by giving them his own body and blood through which forgiveness had been won for them.
Our partaking of the Body and blood of the Lord together also illutstrates a unity that we have as believers together, one in confession and faith. St. Paul says --
"For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread." (1 Corinthians 10:17 NKJV)
It is for this reason, that we will not want to take communion elsewhere with those who do not teach all things as Christ commanded, for their sakes and ours. We would have all men know the truth of God's Word about the Lord's Supper so that they also may be joined to us and to Christ -- one in confession and faith.
"For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes." (1 Cor 11:26)
My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus' name.
On Christ the solid rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.
His oath, His covenant, and blood support me in the whelming flood;
When every earthly prop gives way, He then is all my hope and Stay.
On Christ the solid rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.