26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
It is getting more and more difficult for families to eat together around the table it seems. Whether it is that they are all the table, but on their smart phones and not paying any attention to one another. Or, they have given up all together and eat in front of the television. Or, they are so busy with work and extracurricular activities that they aren’t home. And, certainly there are some families that can’t eat together because they just don’t like each other anymore or have completely broken up. I would venture a guess that for most, the ideal is a family dinner gathered around the table for a good meal, good company and even praying together before the meal, but it does not happen all that often anymore. Tonight, we continue in our series of three words of truth, focusing on two related phrases, Take and Eat, Take and Drink.
This Maundy Thursday evening, our focus is on Jesus and his disciples in the upper room at a special meal around a dinner table as it is recorded in Matthew 26. The scene is familiar to us, as Jesus and his disciples eat their last Passover meal together and as Jesus introduces the first Lord’s Supper. The events of this night forever changed the Passover meal. No longer would a lamb be slaughtered, bitter herbs eaten, and a cloak tucked into our belts as if ready to dine and dash. The Passover meal was ended that night as Jesus went on the next day to give the one time sacrifice of the true Passover Lamb as we are remined in
Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.
Jesus ended the Passover meal through his death, but he still wanted a meal to serve as a reminder for his people and this time for it to give them the forgiveness of sins. The original Passover was a reminder of the deliverance from Egypt, but this new Lord’s Supper was given for the deliverance from sin and death. This meal is as Jesus said,
28…“poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
This meal is our focus tonight as we remember what Jesus wanted the disciples in the upper room to receive and pass on to all who believe.
In Luke’s account of the Last Supper, the Holy Spirit adds this wonderful detail in the words of Jesus:
“I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”
At first, this detail makes a lot of sense to us. Jesus loves his disciples and wants to assure them of his forgiveness. It is easy for us to look at Jesus words through the rose-colored glasses of faith and see this, but we are looking back at the situation. If we put ourselves in Jesus’ shoes, we realize that he is giving these sinful men his body and blood for the forgiveness of their sins for the first time. They do not have the luxury of looking back on the events of tomorrow and Sunday. Yet, Jesus wanted them to have this new meal together for the forgiveness of sins, sins like abandoning him in the Garden of Gethsemane, sins like rejecting him three times before the rooster crows and even before they had left the upper room, forgiveness for arguing about which of them was the greatest. It was this ragtag group of men that Jesus was going to give his body and blood to in this supper and the group, along with the whole world, that he was going to die for the next day.
As Jesus sat with the sinful disciples ready to give them this new meal, we call the Lord’s Supper and a sacrament, I wonder if he felt like a mom feeding her kids after a soccer game. Often, after mom gets up the energy to pick up the kids from their final activity of the day, she is very tired. The kids are tired too, but they won’t ever admit it. Instead, the kids seem to put in into a new gear of yelling, crying, running and rebellion as bedtime looms closer. There are times, when mom gets whatever meal she can in front of her kids and watches them eat like a scene from the raptor pit in Jurassic park, and must think, “I wish these kids appreciated all I have done for them today.” The disciples did not fully comprehend what Jesus was doing for them that first Lord’s Supper, but soon they saw what Jesus meant when he said,
“This is my body and blood given up for you in this new covenant for the forgiveness of sins.”
Jesus had shed his blood on the cross in a one-sided deal, where he gave up everything to give them everything.
You and I continue to receive the benefits of what Jesus gave the disciples the first Maundy Thursday. You and I still get to take and eat and take and drink for the forgiveness of our sins, guaranteed because Jesus gave his life for us on the cross. We continue to share the Lord’s Supper together but are we always aware of what Jesus is giving us and thankful for what he has done? In 1 Corinthians 11:28, Paul wrote,
“Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup.”
Every time we eat and drink the bread and wine, body and blood, Jesus wants us to remember we need his sacrifice and forgiveness. Every time we eat and drink, Jesus wants us to thank him for his love and desire to give his life for us, when we did not deserve it. If we ever forget what Jesus has done for us or begin to take his gift for granted, we ought to remember these words from 1 Corinthians 11:29,
For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.
This meal is not just a small remembrance, it is the power of God at work for us. It is not something to be taken for granted, but something we eagerly desire.
Each time we get to take and eat, take and drink we receive something we cannot get on our own. On our own before God, Isaiah describes our hopeless state,
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
Without the work of God, we are a hopeless group, but the prophet Jeremiah was given words to give us the hope of God’s work for us,
“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel…I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
The promise God makes to us in the Lord’s Supper is for the forgiveness of all our sins. It is a promise that we can walk away from this meal at peace with God, as children of God and free from the need to indulge our sinful, selfish desires.
It is getting more and more difficult for families to eat around the table, but I don’t think anyone would say they want it that way. After a quick search and a little cross referencing on the internet, the statics are clear that eating together as a family is a good thing. Websites agree that kids who eat with their parents are less likely to be overweight, more likely to eat healthy, perform better academically, less likely to engage in risky behavior and have better relationships with their parents. None of these are bad things, yet we often struggle to make eating together a priority. We struggle, and yet we are the ones in charge of our schedules. Yes, there are some things that would really put a strain on our family to change to be able to eat dinner some nights, but other times, we sacrifice a lot of good that comes from eating with one another for things that are far more temporary and less fulfilling.
Jesus gave us everything he had when he gave us the Lord’s Supper. In this meal, we receive the forgiveness of sins and from that we have eternal life and peace with God. We also get to enjoy a special unity when we commune together. As a group of believers who share the same faith in our Lord Jesus, we enjoy a unique fellowship when we join together to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. This connection we have with one another through faith is a family based on the blood of Jesus. It reaches beyond time and means we share in the bond of peace—working together, sharing joys and burdens, praying for and encouraging one another.
It is getting more and more difficult for families to eat together around the table and how much more for us as the church. I believe that very few would go so far as to say the things that keep them from coming to the Lord’s Supper are more important than receiving Jesus’ body and blood, but our actions can sometimes do the speaking for us. At the same time, I believe that most would say they do want to be here for this meal to receive the forgiveness of sins and to enjoy peace with God and unity with one another. We know our family of believers, we know they have struggles, burdens and sins, and we know the relief our Father gave us in his Son, so tonight and every time we enjoy this meal together let us encourage one another to be here to, Take and Eat, Take and Drink for the forgiveness of sins. Amen.