I want to begin with a verse… 9 Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me. Psalm 41:9 Has someone ever turned against you?
<ILL: When Shadow feels betrayed!> That’s a silly example. Sometimes betrayals are a lot more serious and a LOT more painful!
- Betrayal at work
- Betrayal in relationships
- Betrayal by your own body <ILL: Eric’s struggle>
In Psalm 41, the Psalmist speaks of a friend who has betrayed him. This had to be a close friend … so close that they “shared bread.” And this is important to notice.
NB: Table Fellowship in the Ancient World: Eating with someone wasn’t just a social activity, it was a sign of deep relational connection. To eat with someone meant they were your close/dear friend.
In fact, the Pharisees in Jesus’ day came up with 341 different rulings on theological questions and issues. Out of those, 229 – so 67% – had to do with whom you could and should not eat. To have someone who you trusted enough to dine with betray you was a HUGE deal! It would have been extremely painful on an emotional level.
That brings us to this night and setting for Jesus Last Supper.
14 When the hour came, Jesus and His apostles reclined at the table. 15 And He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” Luke 22:14-16 Jesus sits down with His disciples for a meal. But it’s not just any meal. It’s the Passover, which commemorates how God rescued the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt. Some of you may remember the story. God has been sending plagues against Egypt to try to get the leader of Egypt – Pharaoh – to release the Israelites from their slavery. But he won’t. And so, God prepares to send a final plague where the firstborn of everything and everyone in Egypt will die. But God wants to save His people from this plague. So He gives Moses these instructions for His people …
3 “Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. 6 Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. 7 Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. 8 That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. 13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.” Exodus 12:3, 6-8, 13 In the Passover, God provides salvation – from wickedness in Egypt and from God’s judgment. Now, fast-forward to the first Maundy Thursday … here is a man who’s name means “The Lord Saves” – Jesus – sitting with His disciples for a meal that is all about salvation. What He does with this meal is incredible.
19 Jesus 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.” Luke 22:19 Jesus takes the bread of the Passover … the unleavened bread from Exodus 12. In Deuteronomy 16, that bread is given a specific name.
3 …the bread of affliction… Deuteronomy 16:3 In Egypt, the Israelites were experiencing a lot of affliction/pain and suffering! But now Jesus says that this bread His body! Why? Look at Luke 22.
15 “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” Luke 22:15 What was once bread connected to Israel’s suffering, Jesus says is now bread connected to His suffering. But He’s not finished …
20 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.” Luke 22:20 Just in case the disciples missed what He was saying about the bread, He reinforces it when He takes the cup and says that His blood is “poured out.” There is a BIG difference between a person’s blood that is drawn and when their blood is poured out! <explain>
But Jesus still isn’t finished …
21 “But the hand of him who is going to betray Me is with Mine on the table.” Luke 22:21 Remember that verse from Psalm 41?
9 Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me. Psalm 41:9 Jesus is saying, “That’s what’s happening to Me! One of you will betray Me! I’m going to suffer physically on a cross, but I’m also going to suffer emotionally because of you.”
<ILL: I sounds like a complaint, but it isn’t> Jesus is NOT complaining. He’s showing his disciples (and us) what salvation really looks like. That’s what this meal is all about!
So let’s focus, in preparation to take Communion together, on what our salvation is …
Salvation is physical. Christianity is different from so many other faiths because our God isn’t just “out there” somewhere. He comes to us in Jesus. And when Jesus wins our salvation, He does it physically! He dies physically. He rises bodily! This meal points us to that amazing reality. Jesus takes physical elements of bread and wine and He uses those to say, “I am with you, physically. I am saving you, physically!” That is what we call …
NB: The Real Presence We believe that in Holy Communion we are receiving the very body and blood of Jesus. Martin Luther puts it this way …
“The Lord’s Supper is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, under the bread and wine, for us Christians to eat and drink.” (Martin Luther, SC VI)
Jesus is really there with us EVERY time we take Communion!
This is so comforting during this crazy time! The crisis we are all facing is a physical one … a virus that attacks our bodies. The salvation Jesus won for us is NOT just spiritual, it is physical. That reminds me, I want to take a moment to say, “Thank you.”
NB: Thanks to doctors, first responders, grocery store checkers, child care workers, and all those who are risking their health to help us and, sometimes, even save our lives! They’re helping us with our physical needs. You are the hands and feet of Jesus and we are grateful!
Jesus understands the problems and struggles that come along with physical bodies. Think of this wonderful promise in Psalm 34 …
8 Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him. Psalm 34:8 Our God sends His physical Son to be with us in our physical lives and we can now literally taste and see His love in this physical meal.
Salvation is relational. When Jesus says that one of His disciples will betray Him breaks my heart. When Jesus is about to carry the heaviest burden in the universe … the sin of the whole world, He needs his friends the most. It also breaks my heart for Judas … because he really has no idea what he’s doing. It also breaks my heart for all of us. We all tend to do our own thing. All too often, “our own thing’ only leads us away from God.
The Bible is clear that, by nature, we’re enemies of God. We have broken our relationship with God and betrayed Him. And yet, God invites us to His table tonight. Why? Because God wants to restore our broken relationship with Him! Romans 5 says …
10 While we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son. Romans 5:10
<ILL: Kids who rebel and parents who take them back> We always long to have the relationship restored. That’s what God longs for! He wants us back so badly He gave His son, Jesus to bring us back!
Salvation is eternal. We all know that when you eat, it won’t be long before you are hungry again. The salvation that Jesus gives us in this meal lasts forever!
16 “I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” Luke 22:16 Jesus doesn’t eat again. All He gets is some wine vinegar while He’s dying on the cross. This really is His last supper. But, Jesus says He will eat again. Where?
The Apostle John has a vision of heaven. And an angel says to him…
9 “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” Revelation 19:9 There is an eternal feast to come.
<ILL: Liturgical Song> Grace our table with Your presence, and give us a foretaste of the feast to come. I always love to remember that when we share this meal that we are uniting with the whole Christian Church. But more than that, we are celebrating with the Church triumphant … those who have gone before us in faith. And we celebrate with the angels and the whole company of Heaven.
I love that in this meal we celebrate the salvation Jesus won for us with those who are separated from us, but united with us in faith through the Holy Spirit! We are separated, but together.
During a time like this, when we are separated from one another like never before, I love the fact that we are united by the same Holy Spirit. And so we are separated, but together!
Dear Friends, I invite you to join me as we prepare for this Holy Meal.