Monday, April 24, 2017

Sermon April 13, 2017 Maundy Thursday

Title: The Lord’s time is at hand and we receive his blessing!
Text: Matt 26:17-30
Readings Exodus 24:3-11, Heb 9:11-22, Matt 26:17-30

18 He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’” 19 And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover.

There are things in this life that we can teach our children and there are things in this life that we can give to them. 

Some things are left as an inheritance from parent to child and may bring temporal blessings for a time. But the true joy we hope to leave them is faith in Christ, and this can only be given through the proclamation of the gospel and the bestowing of faith by the working of the Holy Spirit. We continue to pray that the Lord in his time and in his way will accomplish this salvation.

17 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 18 He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’”19 And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover.

A few times in the past we’ve hosted Jews for Jesus and their presentation, Christ in the Passover. If you were able to come you saw and heard about a Passover Seder, this Feast of Unleavened Bread which is a seven–day feast that coincides with Passover, during which no leaven is to be eaten.
Now today we celebrate the institution of the Lord’s Supper and begin the culmination of Jesus coming and his work as we walk to the cross with him. At the cross he will finish his work and free the world from sin, death and the power of the devil for you and for me.

It had been the custom for Jesus and 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:

18 He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’”19 And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover.

Two of the disciples, Peter and John, were commissioned to attend to this work, Jesus giving them another bit of evidence as to His omniscient (all knowing) power. They were to go to a certain place, which Christ designated very exactly, to a man whom He also described to them, and give him a message. 

The Lord's time was near, even at hand, the time when He would be taken up into glory through suffering and death. With him, in this certain man's house, He would celebrate the Passover with His disciples. It is likely, as has been suggested, that this man was a disciple of Jesus in secret, just as Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were. The disciples carried out the wishes of Jesus, acting as his representatives to the householder in making all arrangements for the evening.

18[ Jesus] said, “Go!” The Lord gave instructions and they were followed by the disciples. We though, as Christ’s followers, fall short of what he expects by not doing what God calls us to do because of our sinful flesh. We are not strong in faith, or evangelism, or outreach, or prayer, or devotion or love toward neighbor. It is who we are as sinners … but that is no excuse. We also know what God demands of us and in repentance we turn from sin.

C.S. Lewis put it this way: 

Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition, when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in the slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

C.S. Lewis.

Far too easily pleased; are you? Do you seek in prayer what are the desires of your heart believing that God too desires to give them to you? And what is the desire of your heart? That in of itself says quite a bit about you and me. 

Do we seek things temporal or things eternal? Is it selfish gain or blessings for those who are truly in need? The Lord knows your true need … and it is this that He desires to give you.

21 And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” 23 He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

We understand Judas’ betrayal. Jesus says it would be better that he had not been born. That says something about life, death and eternal punishment. But do you and do I betray the Lord? Do we not do what He has called us to do in giving others what has been given to us? Namely, the Good News; is there a time that you remember an opportunity presented that you missed in sharing the gospel? 

I do.


As a pastor who does hospital visitation I can think of one time in particular where I missed an opportunity. Leaving a visit at St. Joes, as I waited for the elevator door to open, a lady chaplain walked by, as we looked at each other, she saw my collar and I saw someone of Indian descent. It was quick and very brief, I was thinking of my next call or business to attend to. She said, “How are you?” I answered, “Very well, thank you and how are you?” 

As she answered the door opened and as is habit, I got on the elevator smiling as we parted. As I descended to the lobby I thought to myself … Why didn’t I remember to ask a few questions? Could I have asked how long she had been a Chaplin, what was the hardest part of her job? Does the hospital use volunteer Chaplains? What comfort does she offer patients? Anything … but I didn’t. 

Instantly I fell short and it was brought to my attention by the Holy Spirit. 

Sure I’ve done the opposite many times where I’ve shared my faith … I just don’t remember those as vividly as I do the times I fall short … and that is good. It is the Lord’s work. 

But Jesus’ work was coming to a close - like the Passover - and soon He would go to the cross. Giving us new this gift – the Lord’s Supper - that he left for us until his glorious return that we celebrate tonight because:

The Lord’s time is at hand and we receive his blessing!

26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.”

Jesus gave His body and blood as a gift for his disciples. He continues to give this same gift for we who as his followers continue to need to have our faith strengthened as we struggle with our own sinfulness in this life.

"We Christians confess and believe that the Sacrament of the Altar is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, under the bread and wine, for us Christians to eat and to drink, instituted by Christ Himself. 

We cannot understand how Jesus at that time, while standing in visible form before His disciples, could give them His body, His blood to eat and to drink, nor how the risen Christ, though in heaven, can be present everywhere on earth with His body and blood, wherever this meal is celebrated according to His institution. 

But the word of Christ is clear and true, and we also know from the scriptures that the body of Christ, had a higher, form of being, even in the days of His humility, in addition the risen Christ is not locked up in heaven. As Luther said, we take our reason captive to the word of God and thank him for the great blessing of this Blessed Sacrament. From it we gain the knowledge and certainty of our forgiveness of our sins. 

In guaranteeing to us his grace this sacrament points forward, just like the Passover meal, to the end of the journey, to the meal of eternity, when the Lord will drink it with us in His Father's kingdom." 

Kretzmann NT Vol 1 pg146

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


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