"The Lord’s Supper"
The night before the crucifixion, Jesus does something strange. He takes bread and calls it his body. Later he would take wine and call it his blood. Then he would make a statement about eating it again. What does the Lord’s Supper have to do with Easter?
The Lord’s Supper
A. It was a meal like none other recorded in scripture. From the time of Passover coming out of Egypt, until that day, the Passover had a purpose as designed by God and recorded for us in Ex. 12.
B. 400 years before the Passover the Jewish people faced a deadly famine, but God brought His children down to Egypt by the help of Joseph. But in that 400 year time, the Jews became enslaved to the Egyptians and cried out for help. God heard their cry and gave them Moses. With Moses and Aaron speaking for God, God showed his power through 10 plagues upon Egypt with the last taking the life of the first born. There was one way to keep God from taking the life, it was to take a perfect lamb, kill it and use some of the blood on the door frames of the houses. When the death angel saw the blood, he would pass over all who were in that house.
C. Passover was a watershed moment. It was a defining moment for the Jewish people. God rescued them, preserved them, and called them out to be His people in the land of Promise. For thousands of years Passover was done to tell the story of God’s love, power and calling. The Passover meal is fundamentally a religious service set around a dinner table where the story is told in an orderly manner and the participants eat, pray, drink wine, sing and talk.
D. The joy of Passover is the ability to “recline at the table” as a sense that you are free. It is a positive meal, not one that is met with sorrow, but with joy and power.
E. I wanted you to have that background as we open the text today. (READ Matt. 26:17, Luke 22:14-18). The reading we had from Matthew has Jesus saying almost identical words. But what Jesus does is changes the story at the meal. It is that change that we, 2000 year later, reflect upon. So let’s take a look at parts of the story as we know it.
I. Jesus Retells The Story
A. As the Gospels outline what happened for us that night, Jesus wanted to tell a different Passover story. This time we read nothing of a lamb that was sacrificed and whose blood was used to cover over the people. Instead, as the meal was shared, Jesus takes the bread, but didn’t talk about the Exodus and haste in which they had to leave Egypt and why the bread had no leaven in it. Instead, we hear Jesus say these words, (READ Luke 22:19).
B. Can you imagine the disciples at the dinner, listening to Jesus, expecting to hear the Passover story only to hear Jesus talk about himself? This is not a story about the Exodus, this is a story about Jesus. The bread helped them to know that God was at work in their salvation; that haste was necessary because at any moment they would be free to leave Egypt. But it goes even farther. God told the people to get rid of the leaven in the house. Paul tells us a little more about why. (READ 1 Cor. 5:6-8).
C. Jesus says the new unleavened bread is his body which is broken for them, that’s what they’re to remember. Something totally new is happening at this dinner.
D. As the dinner begins to come to an end, Jesus takes one of the traditional four cups from the dinner and redirects its meaning. (READ Matt. 26:27-29) Jesus then said, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” A new covenant? God had made a covenant with the Israelites, but Jesus established a new covenant, a covenant sealed with blood. Jesus was establishing a new kingdom.
E. Why talk about this on Easter Sunday? What we celebrate today is not simply that Jesus died so we can be forgiven. What we celebrate is that Jesus is alive that we might live forever with him. We are looking forward. We are people of a new covenant, but not one made by a dead lamb. John speak of the praise of Jesus in heaven (Rev. 5:11-14)
F. Easter is about the resurrected Jesus. Our Jesus, our lamb that was slain is alive! He is risen just as he said, and out Holy Communion is not eaten alone, but with Him!
II. Look Forward
A. 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 drink of the fruit of the vine again, he would drink it again anew in his Father’s kingdom.
B. The communion meal was not really over that night 2000 years ago. It was not finished when he was nailed to the cross. We continue to eat and drink until he comes again. The Lord’s Table is more than symbolic, it is sacramental. That is to say it does not just cause us to remember the past, it mirrors something happening in the heavenly realms today.
C. Just as baptism reenacts our redemption that takes place in heaven, this bread and cup is an ongoing communion with Christ. It is a proclamation that Jesus is not dead, but fellowships with us now and will one day return to claim us and take us home for all eternity.
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. This Resurrection Sunday, as you soon will eat the bread and drink the cup, I pray you will do as Paul directed the church in Corinth, “and proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
D. As you examine yourself at this time, if you desire our prayers to help you prepare to take this supper, then come as we stand and sing.
Because of Him,