Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Sermon March 24, 2016 Maundy Thursday

Title: Christ gives Himself to you!
Text: Luke 22:7-20

13 And they went and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.

In 1962, Victor and Mildred Goertzel published a revealing study of 413 "famous and exceptionally gifted people" called Cradles of Eminence. They spent years attempting to understand what produced such greatness, what common thread might run through all of these outstanding people's lives.

Surprisingly, the most outstanding fact was that virtually all of them, 392, had to overcome very difficult obstacles in order to become who they were.

Tim Hansel, Holy Sweat, 1987, Word Books Publisher, p. 134.

This is and has been never more evident than in the story of Jesus and Holy Week. That God in Christ would become man for our sake, born of the Virgin Mary and without sin and grow as a man who being obedient to the Law … something that we could not do, celebrated His triumphant ride into Jerusalem as our humble King last Sunday to now overcome the very difficult obstacles that would free the world from the power of sin, death and the Devil in the lives of each one of us who believe by faith in His finished work.

Christ gives Himself as His gift to you!

Now, the culmination of Jesus coming; His work to accomplish what He came to do this Holy Week begins.

7 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8 So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.”

Jesus sent Peter and John to get things ready for the Passover. Last Weekend for the alternate Gospel reading for Palm Sunday we read in Matthew 21:1-2

21 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her.

These two disciples are not named. It could be the same two that he now sends, Peter and John; it could be two others of the twelve. We don’t know.

What I find interesting here is not that those who got the Donkey for Jesus didn’t matter, they most certainly did but that for … The Passover … Jesus sent Peter and John and they ask a question:

9 They said to him, “Where will you have us prepare it?”

It had been the custom for Jesus and with others of the Jewish people to celebrate the Feast of the Passover in remembrance of their delivery out of slavery and bondage in Egypt and Jesus gives them specific instructions:

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.”

It sounds very similar and very specific also to the reading again from last Sunday:

2 saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.”

Both of our readings conclude in a similar fashion with the two disciples finding the colt or donkey and Peter and John finding it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.


Coming into the city from Bethany, very likely through the Sheep Gate, they would meet a man coming toward them bearing a vessel, a jug, or pitcher, of water; this man they should follow to the house into which he would enter.

To the master of that house they should make known their wants, asking him for the location of the guest-chamber, the dining-room, where Jesus might eat the Passover-meal with His disciples. The man of the house would then show them an upper room, a flight of stairs up, all furnished with sofas and pillows for such a meal: and it is here that they should prepare the Passover. It is generally assumed by many commentators that the owner of the house had been a friend, a believer or even a disciple of Jesus.

Paul Kretzmann, Popular Commentary of the Bible, NT vol. II CPH St. Louis 1923, Pg 383

We see in this description, as also in our Palm Sunday lesson, both the authority of Jesus in directing His disciples and specifically Peter and John, but also His divine omniscience or the all knowing attribute of God/man Jesus Christ.

Christ gives Himself as His gift to you!

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.”

It is very likely that Peter and John entered the city through the Sheep Gate to find the man carrying a jar of water that would lead them to the house where they would eat the Passover meal with the very Lamb of God Himself. The task for which Jesus came who be very shortly realized and He who takes away the sins of the world who be fulfilled.

In a short while, we too, will realize this same true revelation from Jesus as to the very nature of the Passover now being instituted in the Gospel reading for the disciples but becoming so much more for us as Christ himself institutes the Lord’s Supper.

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.

What had been celebrated then is celebrated today as we receive the very body and blood of Christ for the forgiveness of our sins and the strengthening of our faith. This unfortunately for many of Christ’s followers today and we as Lutherans becomes a place of conflict, confusion and tension. What is the Lord’s Supper and who should partake?

For some of our Christian friends and those of other denominations the bread is just bread, and the wine is just wine. We remember what Christ did at the cross and we don’t give too much thought beyond that. Because, they would say: “Jesus is in Heaven and not able to be here and in the sacrament.”

The Roman Catholic Church, of which I was raised in would go further than Jesus by defining the moment that the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Christ and the bread and wine no longer exist. We see bread and wine but they have been transubstantiated and now are only the body and blood of Christ.

As Lutherans we take Jesus and His words for what they are, not reading more into them than what He said or believing less than what He meant. In a real sense the Real Presence and our understanding of Jesus and the sacrament are truly profound but also very simple. Or, maybe it is just as Lutherans we like to Scripture interpret Scripture.

As St Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 11:

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

But Paul adds this important bit of information:

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. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.

So what is an unworthy manner? We’ll you aren’t found guilty, as St. Paul states, against the bread and the wine, but guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. St. Paul reminds us to examine ourselves, are we repentant of our sins, do we discern the true body and blood of the Lord, present in and with the bread and wine, in a miraculous way? The theologians and professors in our church refer to this, as Christ’s sacramental presence.

In this blessed gift we hear the words of institution and the elements are consecrated, we receive the bread and the wine by are mouth but in a mysterious way, that we can’t fully comprehend, we receive the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ in and with the bread and the wine, not because we fully understand but because Jesus and His word says so.

Martin Luther says this in his Small Catechism about the Lord’s Supper:

What is the Sacrament of the Altar?

It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine, instituted by Christ Himself for us Christians to eat and to drink.

And then he concludes with this question:

Who receives this sacrament worthily?

Fasting and bodily preparation are certainly fine outward training. But that person is truly worthy and well prepared who has faith in these words:
“Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” But anyone who does not believe these words or doubts them is unworthy and unprepared, for the words “for you” require all hearts to believe.

Christ gives Himself as His gift to you!

Our Lord and savior Jesus Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper for you and for me so that we can receive Him and his forgiveness today and for all time until his return. Christ gives you as His child the blessed gift of His true body and blood so that you are connected to him and he to you in this blessed way.

The obstacle of sin was place in the way between God and man. There was no way for man to get out of this predicament. God in Christ can to restore this relationship and the original righteousness that man was created within his reflecting the image of God. In the sacrament you receive a foretaste of the joy and restoration that you have now but that which will be fully enjoyed in Heaven one day.

Christ gives Himself and is the gift that keeps on giving, for you!

May the Love of God the blessings of Christ and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be and abide with you now and forever.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.


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