Lord's Supper Service - 9/23/18
Series: Special Occasions
September 23, 2018
On this day in 1937 Yankees lose 9-5 but clinch pennant when Red Sox beat Detroit.
On this day in 1942 The 'Manhattan Project' commences, under the direction of US General Leslie Groves: its aim - to deliver an atomic bomb.
On this day in 1952 the single "Kaw-Liga" was recorded by Hank Williams.
On this day in 1957 "That'll Be Day" by Buddy Holly & Crickets reached #1.
On this day in 1962 ABC's 1st color TV series - The Jetsons by Hanna-Barbera first broadcast.
On this day in 1969 "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford premiered.
On this day in 1977 Cheryl Ladd replaced Farrah Fawcett on TV show "Charlie's Angels.”
Those are all special days, but today is a special day in the life our church unlike any of them. You can probably tell by the presence of this little table here. Today we celebrate what we call the Lord’s Supper and others call Communion and even others call the Eucharist.
Unfortunately, it’s become more a ritual and less a celebration in many churches. That’s a clear and present danger in any event or celebration that happens over and over. In time we observe them simply because we always have.
I hope that’s not the case for us with things like Independence Day and Memorial Day but even much more so when it comes to the Lord’s Supper.
One of the ways we avoid that is to take the trouble of putting everything in context, going back and looking at why we do this. And we’ll do that by traveling back in time to Spring around 33AD, which was 1,985 years ago. A doctor named Luke, writes an account of what happened leading up to that night of the first Lord’s Supper…
Luke 22:7–13 (ESV) — 7 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Passover celebration were a yearly commemoration of God’s miraculous deliverance of the Israelites from their bondage in Egypt. It took the Israelites back in time about 1300 years. You know that story. Nine plagues weren’t enough to convince pharaoh he needed to let God’s people go. The last plague, the tenth, would settle it.
When they wanted to go back and get that special day in context, they went to the Book of Exodus, which is an account written by Moses about how God delivered his people. As the final plague was about to be unleashed, Moses passed along to the people what God gave to him (not in notes)...
Exodus 12:1–4 (ESV) — 1 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. 3 Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. 4 And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb.
Exodus 12:5–28 (ESV) — 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, 6 and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight. 7 “Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8 They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it…11 In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. 14 “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast. … 17 And you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day, throughout your generations, as a statute forever. 18 In the first month, from the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. … 21 Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb. 22 Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning.
23 For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you. 24 You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever. 25 And when you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service. 26 And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ 27 you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.’ ” And the people bowed their heads and worshiped. 28 Then the people of Israel went and did so; as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.
There’s so much here, we could spend all day unpacking it and not even get close to seeing all there is to see. I’ll let you do the math, but consider a spotless lamb, the sacrificing of that lamb so as to be saved from death and judgment…
Tucked within God’s instructions on how to avoid the horrors of the Tenth plague was a command to remember how he had delivered them from bondage.
Now fast forward back to our text in Luke…
8 So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.” 9 They said to him, “Where will you have us prepare it?” 10 He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters 11 and tell the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 12 And he will show you a large upper room furnished; prepare it there.” 13 And they went and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.
The disciples would have thought nothing of what Jesus asked them to do. They were all Jews doing what all Jews did (and still do) to celebrate Passover. They certainly had no idea that within a few hours they’d all scatter in fear when Jesus is arrested and condemned to die on a Roman cross.
The way the Passover meal went, by the time of Jesus, was something like this: the head of the family took the first cup of wine, gave thanks, and then waited for a child in the family to ask, “Why is this night different from all other nights?”
Then the one presiding over the meal would go back to the OT texts, explaining how their people had been in bitter bondage and affliction, how God had delivered them so many years ago, and how they had to make unleavened bread in haste to prepare for a quick exit out of the land of Egypt.
But Jesus didn’t do that on this Passover…
Luke 22:14–20 (ESV) — 14 And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. 15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”
One pastor says of this…
[So Jesus Christ picks up the cup and he opens his mouth, the way it has been done for centuries, but as soon as he begins to speak, Jesus begins to say things that must have absolutely astonished the disciples, because he says things that had never been said in any Passover before. Never. First of all, he begins to say, “The meal we’re eating tonight does not have reference to the past, but to the future.”
Notice he says, “I’m not going to eat this again until we eat it in the kingdom.” So first of all, he’s talking about something that’s about to happen, something that’s ahead, but the most astounding thing he says … He does not get up and say, “This is the bread of their affliction, that our ancestors ate in the wilderness.”
No. He says, “This is the bread of my affliction. This is my body. As this bread has to be broken for you to be fed, my body is going to have to be broken, my life is going to have to be poured out, for you to have life.” When Jesus chooses the Passover as the context for talking about his death, do you know what he’s saying?
Let me put it three or four ways. He is saying, “Years ago, they ate a meal before God redeemed them from political and economic slavery from Egypt, but tonight we eat a meal the night before God will redeem us from sin and death and evil itself. All other sacrifices, all other deliverances, by all the other leaders, are pointing to here, to me. I’m the ultimate Moses. This is the ultimate exodus. This is the night that’s the night, that’s different from all other nights.”
See, when Jesus says, in the middle of Passover, “It’s about me,” here’s what he’s saying. He is saying, “My death, tonight, is the climax to which all of history has been moving.” This is astounding. It sounds crazy, but it’s the first thing you must believe about the death of Jesus if it’s going to actually transform your life the way it transformed the disciples’ lives. Jesus Christ says, “My death, the cross, it’s the center of history.”]
Think about it. God himself commanded the Israelites to celebrate the Passover in remembrance of what He was going to do in delivering them. When I do what I’m about to do, look back at what I did!
Jesus commands his followers to celebrate what we now call the Lord’s Supper to look back at what he’s going to do on the cross and in that tomb for us which points us forward to what God’s ultimately going to do in his end game. When I do what I’m going to do, look back at what I did and then look forward to what I’m going to do.
The Lord’s Supper is so much more than just a ritual. It’s a celebration in remembrance of the spotless Lamb of God who gave himself for us, and it’s an act of anticipation of his return to set up his Kingdom on this earth (and we’ll be a part of that).
As we get ready to do just what those disciples did 2,000 years ago, and what the church has been doing ever since, consider these two questions:
Who is it for?
Christians. Those who have believed in Jesus and received like a gift his living the life they should have lived and dying the death they should have died.
If you’re here today and haven’t done that yet, please don’t feel bad. You can let the bread and juice pass you by. But I’d like to know, what would keep you from receiving God’s gift today?
How do we prepare?
Paul wrote to the Corinthian Christians…
1 Corinthians 11:27–28 (ESV) — 27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
Even in the early church, just decades after Jesus commanded us to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, there were those who lost sight of its meaning. They took it lightly and abused what was supposed to be a precious time for God’s people.
Paul warned them and us to examine ourselves.
He wasn’t saying the Lord’s Supper is only for those walking in perfect fellowship, only for those not struggling with failures. Good heavens no.
Paul spoke of those who claimed to know Christ yet lived in open rebellion against Him. They weren’t convicted of or sorry for their sin. They came to the table callously.
If you are here today and there is failure, there is conviction and sorrow, the Lord’s Table is for you!
To help us prepare today we are going to have a time of reflection, during which the altar is open and I’ll be here to help you.
Content Copyright Belongs to Pleasant View First Baptist Church