"A Dinner Date"
It has been called "communion," "Eucharist," and "The Lord's Supper." Jesus took a meal that was based upon a Passover meal and shared with us a dinner that is honored the world over. Let us examine this meal and learn from the words Jesus shared.
A Dinner Date
A. I was so nervous the first time I asked Kerri out on a date, I couldn’t do it in person. I saw her at the student center, waited about 10 minutes for her to go back to her dorm and then called her. I asked her out and she told me she had to check her schedule. I knew it was not going well. But lucky for me, she didn’t have to babysit and we could go out on a date.
B. Being the poor college kid a dinner date at a high class restaurant consisted of going to Perkins and then back to campus for the campus move (Fox and the Hound if you wanted to know).
C. Do you remember that first date you had with the person who is now your husband or wife? Do you remember the excitement or nervousness you felt as you got ready for that first time going out to dinner? I don’t mean McDonalds, I mean when you took, or were taken, out to a place where you actually had to leave a tip when you finished the meal and you didn’t use a coupon. Those days when you first were learning to understand the emotion we call love were visceral.
D. But time has passed. For Kerri and I it has been over 25 years of marriage. Dinner dates often consist of the best coupon we can find, but there is still something special about getting dressed up to go out for dinner. Why? After 25 years I still enjoy a real dinner date. Dinner dates are special because you use that time to talk, remember, plan, enjoy each other’s company or simply bask on the oneness of your marriage.
E. Jesus wanted his disciples to experience a special dinner together. One in which he was excited to lead. Not the romantic kind like Kerri and I, but one that would affect their lives for the rest of their lives. A dinner date that would change the world.
I. The Setting
A. Last week I told you I wanted to spend a few Sundays talking about what took place between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. Today we are going to take a look at what happened the night Judas would betray Jesus.
B. Before he did, Jesus wanted to eat the Passover meal with his disciples. This meal was very special to Jews and still is to this day. While the question of timing is debated, the purpose of the meal is not. Some would say that Jesus was actually doing the Passover meal earlier than Passover. But leave the timing alone and look at the meal. The meal is not what da Vinci portrayed. In fact it probably looked more like this (slide) where the left side was the place of honor, the middle was somewhat honor, and the right was the least honor.
C. At a Jewish meal there was ceremony and meaning. Each aspect, each cup, the bread, the herbs, everything had meaning. During the meal the host would often start by taking a cup, blessing it and giving it to all who were present. Often times after some introductory actions like that the retelling of the Exodus was done by the host answering four questions from the youngest person at the table.
D. After that the meal would continue and there would be more cups that were blessed. What we get in the bible is not Jesus retelling the disciples the Passover story (which very well may have happened), but Jesus teaching something very different.
E. Matthew, Mark and Luke all talk about this special dinner that Jesus had that night he was betrayed. They call it Passover. Luke gives us more details that Matthew or Mark. Luke talks about the first or an early cup that this is blessed and shared. Jesus tells them how he has earnestly desired to eat THIS Passover with them and would not eat another until the kingdom of God had come. All of that would have been significant to the disciple.
F. The disciple had heard Jesus talk for 3 years about this kingdom, and now, at this dinner he mentions it like it is at hand. Then as the dinner progresses Jesus changes from the Passover Lamb and that story, to almost sounding like he is the Passover Lamb. He takes some bread, and breaks it, gives it to the disciples and says, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” What could that mean? Jesus sounds like he is offering himself, broken, really killed, like a sacrifice. He tells them to do this aspect of the meal, not the Passover part, but this part in remembrance of him.
G. A little later, Jesus takes a cup, that’s normal, but he says something that is not normal. He takes them back to bread that he called his body and this time he says, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” That is a mammoth change from the Passover. A new covenant? What is this new covenant that Jesus is talking about? Is it connected to the kingdom? How does the bread and the cup – the body and the blood of Jesus go from what is obviously unleavened bread and wine into something so spiritual?
II. Our Dinner Date with Jesus
A. I admit I am a forgetful person. I can look at you and totally forget your name. I can forget where I put my cup of coffee. I can forget where I put the checkbook or my keys. It has nothing to do with age. They say there are three kinds of memory: good, bad, convenient. Too often I forget to remember.
B. Here we are 2000 years removed from that dinner date, and yet, we have our own dinner date with Jesus each time we come around this table. The meaning never has changed. The calling for you and me is to remember. Remember, not the Passover of Israel coming up out of Egypt, but the Passover Lamb that was slain. Jesus going to the cross where he physical body was broken and his blood flowed.
C. It is a calling to be in a covenant relationship with him so that when you take that bread and drink that cup you participate with Jesus in this kingdom called the church. You honor his body – the church. You examine yourself and realize how much he has done. This dinner date with Jesus is more than just a Sunday break time from the singing and before the sermon. It is about a spiritual of a time as anything we could do.
D. In the Bible it is called “The Lord’s Supper,” “communion,” “The Lord’s Table,” and some call it by a Greek word “Eucharist” which simply means “Thanksgiving.” For some the time is spent alone in silence, not hardly realizing there is someone next you. For others, it is a time when they connect with the entire congregation and feel the family communing together. Some churches do it once a quarter and others offer it every day.
E. For a non-Christian who walks in off the street with no church background, they would find it a strange “meal.” Strange that a piece of cracker and a sip of juice is even called a meal.
F. But for us, for people who call are Christians, this Communion is far more than crackers and grape juice. It is a statement of our covenant relationship with God through Jesus. Therefore as Christians we see its importance. It is something to which we are called to participate. To simply decide I don’t want to go to worship today is sad, but to think that a person is also saying, “I don’t want to remember Jesus today” is even sadder.
G. Our communion service each week is not just a connection to our past and the cross, it also connects us to the future. Jesus told his disciples that he would not drink of the fruit of the vine again, until he drank it again anew in his Father’s kingdom. Jesus is present in this Communion. It is his body and his blood that we partake. It is the covenant he established that we profess. And will continue to do until he comes again. For Jesus is not dead and buried, but alive, sitting at the right hand of God, interceding for us.
A. This strange meal looks outward to the body of Christ, inward to the Christian, forward to the promise and backward to the memorial Lamb of God who paid the price for you to live. Only Jesus could do that.
B. It is as broad as the world, older than the church and as high as heaven, yet fits into tiny tray on a table. It is more than crackers and juice. It is a part of who I am because it tells me who he is, was, and is come.
C. Each Sunday you are invited by God to the table of Jesus. It is a divine invitation, and I hope you don’t neglect such a gift.
D. Today, you have had the opportunity to participate in a dinner date with Jesus, but that dinner is truly intended for those in that covenant relationship. Can we help you be in that covenant?