Saturday, March 31, 2018

Sermon March 29, 2018 Maundy Thursday

Title: The fruit of forgiveness for you!
Text: Mark 14:12-26 Ex 24:3-11; 1 Cor. 10:16-17

16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. 1 Cor. 10:16-17

There is something mysterious and wonderful about celebrating the Lord’s Supper on the night when it was first given. What a joy and privilege to re-live that first Maundy Thursday and to share the very same gift Jesus gave his disciples centuries ago.

Last week we finished our midweek series on the six chief parts of Luther’s Small Catechism with the Lord’s Supper.

We heard of the Real Presence as taught in the Luther’s Small Catechism - as a true exposition of what the Bible teaches - and that, Christ’s true body and blood is in, with, and under the bread and wine instituted by Christ himself as our Gospel reading from St. Mark makes clear.

22 And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Mark 14:22-24

Doing Real Love

The gift of Christ’s love for us is made known to us in his sinless life, death in our place, and glorious resurrection, and as we’ve walked during Lent with Jesus on his journey to the cross the time of fulfillment is coming near, and Christ gives us all - one more blessing – the gift of the supper.
In teaching on the Lord’s Supper we talked of the vertical and horizontal relationship that occurs at the table of the Lord. God and you, connected in the this gift receiving from Christ himself his very body and blood connecting you to his death for you and the forgiveness he won and also … the Koinonía or life together that we share – horizontally - as we gather to receive this participation in the body and blood of the Lord. 

St. Paul is looking to connect the blessings of Christ to you, and you and me to each other.
Our collect for today makes this clear:

O Lord in this wondrous Sacrament you have left us a remembrance of your passion. Grant that we may so receive the sacred mystery of your body and blood that the fruits of your redemption may continually be manifest – [or made known] – in us. That together we may make the love of Christ known in our lives … one with another and in our world.

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, 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 grew up 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 but are simply accidents.

We see bread and wine but they have been transubstantiated and changed and now are only the body and blood of Christ.

As Lutherans we take Jesus simply at 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 - let Scripture interpret Scripture.

As St Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 10:16-17

16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

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

What does this have to do with the Lord’s Supper for you and me?

For we are one body and partake of the one loaf - 1 Cor. 10:17

Participation in the sacrament puts us on the side of Christ uniting us with Christ and you and me with each other. 

We gather together at the table of the Lord and are identified as members of the body of believers – this one loaf - and we are also connected to what is believed, taught, and confessed here at this altar and in this church. 

That Christ is truly present in the Lord’s Supper and that we receive his true body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins in this blessed gift - here.

Not all Christian churches agree. 

So should we partake at other alters?

Some will claim Christian Freedom. “It’s between me and Jesus they say. As long as I know what I believe I’m free to partake wherever and whenever the Lord’s Supper is offered!”

But remember we are in fellowship – one with another - at the rail. 

If the church you visit believes that Christ is not really present does our participation say something different by our actions about what we believe?

I’ll use a political analogy to make my point.

You believe one party serves your interests better than the other. You vote only for party because it is how you believe. 

Now a friend invites you to a fund raiser for the other party. You go, not because you believe what they do, but because your friend invited you and … you like the food. They always have such great food! So you go.

Someone there sees you … and knows you. They get the impression that either you believe how they do … or don’t really believe what you say you believe.

Actions have consequences even if you’re only there for the food.

There is a more excellent way.

The unity we receive from our Lord in the supper connects us to him. His love for you is given and shed at the cross and given into you mouths for the forgiveness of all our sins. We can’t explain how this IS … but simply trust the words of Christ. 

“Take; this IS my body.” 23 And he took a cup …24 And he said to them, “This IS my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.

As the body of believers we too, in love should bring this love of Christ to a world hurting and broken by sin.
Unity in the body is important but truth more so. We cannot compromise truth for unity. None the less we can agree on many essentials together as believers and speak the truth in Love.

A. W. Tozer writes:

Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers [meeting] together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become 'unity' conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship. 

A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God.

Christ gives the power

It is the word of God made flesh and his sinless life, suffering death and glorious resurrection that makes peace with God. The Lord’s Supper brings to our lips this reality connecting us to the very death of Christ for our benefit. It is a meal of forgiveness - God’s favor on account of Christ for you … now and always.

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


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