Friday, April 6, 2012

“Jesus In the Upper Room” 7th in sermon series Places of the Passion

S-1309 MT/3B 4/05/12 Hymns: (O) #154; (S) #156; L.S. #163; #307 (C) TLH

Text: Psalm 116; Exodus 12:1-14; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Matthew 26:17-29

Theme: “Jesus In the Upper Room” 7th in sermon series Places of the Passion

Question: “What is the best meal you have ever eaten?” Armour, SD.

Faithful followers of the Savior, the text for the Maundy Thursday is from the Gospel Lesson: “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.’ And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you, for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 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’” (Matthew 26:26-29).

Saints in Christ, last Sunday during the Triumphal entry to Jerusalem we heard these words: “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” That began a week of wonder and amazement. May God bless you as we continue to the Places of the Passion and journey from the throngs greeting Christ at the Eastern city gate to the gift of grace in the Upper room, to the solemnity of the Garden, to the mockery and scorn of the abuse heaped upon Him, to His suffering and anguish on the cross, to His being laid in a borrowed grave and finally to our waiting in vigil for the announcement of His resurrection and the ensuing celebration.

Jesus in the Upper Room and the Setting (Passover), it is a Solemn, Sacred, Sublime event with special meaning not only to those who were celebrating the Passover then, but to us too, when we behold the Divine Physician in mercy dispenses the medicine of immortality.

It is in the quiet, stillness and calmness, that we see the love of and face of Jesus fully in the Upper Room. Tonight, in this place we, behold the Carpenter from Nazareth exchanging the tools of His trade—wood, hammer and nails, to basin, water and towel; then stooping so low that He becomes a servant for His 12 followers and washes their feet.

This act which was only reserved to the lowest servants in the house is performed by Him who is the Greatest Servant of all—Jesus Christ. Then, He continues to serve them, by preparing for them the Passover Meal—a sumptuous Meal for the forgiveness of sins and strengthening of their faith.

This Meal is delicious. This Meal is beneficial. This Meal is for the healing of both body and soul. And whoever is privileged to eat of this Meal knows the joy that fills his heart and the blessings received by it. This is not a Meal that satisfies your physical hunger, but spiritual. This cup is not one that quenches your thirst, but in you it becomes a living spring of hope and peace. PAUSE.

Perhaps, you remember statements such as this: “You’ve got to taste this!” So said our mothers as they thrust lima beans into our face. “You’ve got to taste this!” So say our spouses as they thrust their latest concoction of hot dish into our face. But all this pales in comparison to the taste test conducted by a gourmet cook as she thrust dog food upon an unsuspecting guest!

That’s right, you heard me right…dog food! It all happened at an elegant reception near Denver, Colorado. The dog food was served on delicate little crackers with a wedge of imported cheese, bacon chips, an olive, and a sliver of pimento on top. You’ve got it. It was hors d’oeurves a la Alpo. The hostess had just graduated from a gourmet cooking course and decided it was time to put her skills to the ultimate test. After doctoring up those miserable morsels and putting them on a couple of silver trays, with a sly grin she watched them all disappear. One man just couldn’t get enough. When they broke the news to him he probably barked and bit her on the leg! In all likelihood, he was famished for real food and thirsty for a gallon of water.

Tonight, in this place the Carpenter who becomes chef and server, serves us a truly gourmet Meal—not dog food, but Lamb’s food. As He entered the Holy City of Jerusalem through the Eastern Gate otherwise known as the sheep gate, He knew that He would be slaughtered. He knew He would be butchered. He knew His blood would be spilled to ransom the world, so that the angle of death would pass over His followers and they would never be forsaken by God.

On that Solemn, Sacred, Special night in the Upper Room, Jesus left His disciples the greatest gift He could. It was a gift built on the Old Testament sacrifices that had pointed to His death for many centuries. When a worshiper brought his sacrificial animal to the priest, he laid his hand on the animal’s head. As he confessed his sin, God transferred his guilt onto the animal, which was then killed in his place. In one special sacrifice the meat of that sacrificial animal was roasted and then given back to the worshiper and his family to eat. By eating the very body of the sacrificial victim who died so they might live, they were reassured they were forgiven by their God.

Gathered together around the table, Jesus gave His disciples His own body, miraculously united to the bread—the very body that would carry their guilt and sin to the cross. In the wine He gave them His own blood, soon to be shed for the forgiveness of all people. As Jesus’ followers continue to receive His body and His blood in Holy Communion tonight, they receive the assurance of their forgiveness for Jesus’ sake.

Here in this place beloved in the Lord, Jesus becomes the Chef of dispensing food and drink for the soul that brings life and salvation. The hymn writer captured it correctly when he wrote: “Draw nigh and take the body of the Lord; And drink the holy blood for you outpoured. Offered was He for greatest and for least, Himself the victim and Himself the Priest” (TLH 307 vs. 1).

This High Priest who is after the order of Melchizedeck offers to His disciples of old and us the miracle of LOVE. He left us the treasure of His Holy Supper, in which He gives His true body with the bread and His true blood with the wine so that penitent sinners might be assured of forgiveness. “Go in peace,” this Priest tells the penitent, “your sins are forgiven as surely as the body and blood prepared that forgiveness which you now have just received.”

Oh, the blessings we have tonight on this most Sacred, Sublime and Solemn night. Jesus knows what lies ahead for Him—suffering, extreme agony, shame and humiliation and finally crucifixion and death—death on a Roman cross. Yet, He doesn’t think of Himself for this is the reason He came to earth to win man’s redemption by the shedding of His blood as the Passover Lamb.

Oh, the privilege He gives us tonight, to dine with Him and drink with Him the Holy FOOD and the Life-giving CUP to take away our shame and disgrace and give us eternal life.

Unlike the gourmet cook in Denver who prepared dog food, Jesus gives us Lamb’s food prepared on the wood of the cross for you. Therefore, when this Meal of LOVE is offered soon, come please, come eat, come drink and receive the GRACE and Treasure of heaven in, with, and under the bread and wine His body and blood for the forgiveness of your sins and the strengthening of your faith.

THIS IS GIVEN FOR YOU, by Him who loved you then, and loves you now. And when you receive this gift, go home in peace knowing full well your sins and forgiven you and heaven’s gate is opened wide.


Now the peace of God…


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