Lessons from the Last Supper - Matthew 26:16-30 Argyle 3/1/15 The Gospel of Matthew. Introduction to Scripture - PDF

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1 Lessons from the Last Supper - Matthew 26:16-30 Argyle 3/1/15 The Gospel of Matthew Introduction to Scripture In his booklet (picture)what Christian Parents Should Know about Infant Baptism, John Sartelle
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1 Lessons from the Last Supper - Matthew 26:16-30 Argyle 3/1/15 The Gospel of Matthew Introduction to Scripture In his booklet (picture)what Christian Parents Should Know about Infant Baptism, John Sartelle says, every New Testament teaching has its roots in the Old Testament. We are going to really see that this morning in our study of the Last Supper. What Jesus did and said at the Last Supper had its roots in the Old Testament Passover celebration. And what we will do this morning when we celebrate the Lord s Supper, does as well. BTW - I ll be talking about both the Last Supper and the Lord s Supper this morning, and I may confuse those terms. When I am talking about what happened in this morning s Scripture passage, I mean to say the Last Supper (picture). And when I am talking about the celebration (picture) we will participate in here in worship this morning, that is the Lord s Supper. If I get those terms mixed up, I would appreciate it if you make the correction in your brains. (Read) (Pray) I want to focus this morning on how the Last Supper looked to the past, to the present and to the future. The Last Supper Looked to the Past First, we want to look at how the Last Supper looked to the past. The occasion for which Jesus and the disciples gathered for was the Passover. It won t be as obvious to us Gentiles, but to a faithful Jew, what Jesus did and said was 2 clearly connected to the Passover. In fact, the better we understand the Passover, the better we ll understand the Last Supper and Jesus death on the cross which it pointed to. Once a year Jewish pilgrims would come to Jerusalem in the spring to celebrate the Passover feast in remembrance of what God had done in delivering them from slavery in Egypt. The Passover remembered and celebrated God s protecting his people from the angel of death which was the last of the plagues that God sent upon the Egyptians to force him to let the Israelites go from slavery. And it celebrated God s protection as the fled Egypt through the Red Sea and into the desert. On Thursday afternoon of Passover week one lamb per household would be brought to the temple court where the priests would sacrifice it. A household could be a large family or a grouping of about 10 people that could include smaller families, couples and singles. With up to 3 million Jewish pilgrims coming to Jerusalem for the Passover, a lot of lambs were sacrificed for Passover. The blood would be passed along in basins and poured out at the foot of the altar. So when Jesus talked about his blood being poured out this would be the image in his disciples minds. The fat of the lamb would be burned on the altar as a burnt offering for sin. The Passover lamb was a sin sacrifice. After sunset, the household would gather in a home to eat the Passover meal. The head of the household would begin the dinner with a prayer of 3 thanksgiving for the feast day. There would be a preliminary course of food followed by a child asking what was the meaning of all of this. Then the head of the household would carefully explain the connection between each of the symbols and the Exodus. The lamb represented the sacrifice that saved them from the angel of death; the bitter herbs reminded them of the years of slavery; the unleavened bread reminded them of the haste with which they fled Israel. The empty chair of the table was for Elijah who was expected to return to announce the coming of the Messiah. There would be four cups of wine served during the meal, each with a different significance. Throughout the whole meal the participants would sing from Psalms It was quite an elaborate ritual, but the Jews did not want to forget and they wanted to make sure they passed on to their children the story of how God had delivered them from slavery in Egypt. So, when Jesus gathered his disciples to prepare them for his own death which would deliver them from slavery to sin, he did it in the context of the Passover. That context would be a great help to them in understanding Jesus death on the cross. The Last Supper looked to the past. The Last Supper Looked to the Present The Last Supper also looked to the present. The present reality for Jesus at the Last Supper was that he would be dead in less than 24 hours. That s what he meant when he said, My appointed time is near. While they were eating Jesus told them that one of them would betray him. Then as he was passing the bread 4 and the cup around, which would have been a regular part of the Passover meal, he hijacked the ceremony and applied it to his impending death. When he took the bread and said, Take and eat, this is my body, heads would have turned. What did he say? What does he mean? Jesus kept going taking one the cups of wine 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. Wow, Jesus was really off script. Like our saying of the Apostles Creed or praying the Lord s Prayer, everyone would have known the words that Jesus was expected to say. These were the words that were said year in and year out at the Passover. When Jesus changed the words, he was alerting them to what was going on. The Lamb of God, the ultimate sacrifice to which all the Old Testament animal sacrifices pointed, was about to pour out his blood. It would result in the forgiveness of sins and a new covenant being established between God and people. God had established a covenant with his people through Abraham. The covenant is laid out for us in the Old Testament. Passover and circumcision were the key celebrations for that covenant. The prophet, Jeremiah, however, had promised that one day God would make a new covenant. He wrote, The days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them, declares the LORD. 33 This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time, 5 declares the LORD. I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, Know the LORD, because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more. (Jeremiah 31:31-34) The new covenant which Jeremiah had promised hundreds of years earlier was now being instituted through Jesus. The appointed time had come. The Last Supper Looked to the Future The Last Supper looked to the past, to the present and to the future. As he was passing the cup around, Jesus said, 29 I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father s kingdom. A few days before this Jesus had taught the disciples about his second coming. They didn t understand this at the time, but Jesus was preparing them for the fact that he would be leaving them. But his death would not be the final word. Nor even his resurrection and ascension. He was coming back and when he did, there would be a great banquet. In the Book of Revelation this is called the wedding supper of the lamb. Jesus said he would not drink wine again until that day. In the midst of a confusing and scary time, Jesus gave his disciples a reason for hope. Someday, he would be coming back. (Move to the floor) 6 Conclusion Ever since Jesus death, resurrection and ascension, Christians have gathered regularly to reenact what Jesus did on the last night of his life. We call it the Lord s Supper and it, too, looks to the past, the present and the future. What is the significance of the bread and the cup? What do they remind us of? These aren t random symbols. We eat the bread reminding us of Jesus body which was broken for us and drink the juice reminding us of Jesus blood which was poured out for the forgiveness of sins and to establish a new covenant. Jesus didn t want us to forget what the basis of our salvation is. We aren t saved by our religious activities or good works, as good as those things are. We are saved by faith in the death of Christ on the cross and nothing else. The Lord s Supper looks to past Jesus death on the cross on our behalf. The Lord s Supper also looks to the present. In the Lord s Supper we experience the presence of Christ and are strengthened in our faith. I love that post-resurrection story in Luke 24 where Cleopas and another disciple are returning home to Emmaus after Jesus crucifixion. They are confused and discouraged. The risen Jesus joins them along the road, but they don t recognize him. He asks them what was going on and they tell him all about himself. It is a funny story when you think about it. They tell Jesus about this prophet named Jesus who taught and did amazing things. But the chief priests and rulers crucified him. They say, we had hoped that he was the one who was going to 7 redeem Israel. Then they tell Jesus that some of their women had gone to the tomb that morning, but it was empty. They had quite a conversation with Jesus, but they didn t realize it was him. When was it that they finally recognized that it was the risen Jesus they were talking to? Luke wrote, When [Jesus] was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him (Luke 24:30-31) When Jesus broke the bread they recognized him. Jesus is here with us this morning as he always is when we gather as his people. Maybe you are aware of that, but maybe his presence is just a fact you know, but is not real in your experience. He has given us this wonderful and powerful means of experiencing his presence. When we eat the bread, slowly chewing it as we think about his death on the cross for us, and as we drink the cup, smelling and tasting the juice that represents his blood, through faith we experience his presence. He is here using these physical means to strengthen us spiritually for the work and battle ahead of us. Jesus is present with us in the Lord s Supper. And then, the Lord s Supper looks to the future. In Paul s description of the Lord s Supper in I Corinthians 11 he wrote, For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord s death until he comes. It s interesting that although we look back to Jesus death when we celebrate the Lord s Supper, we also look to Jesus future return. Every time we celebrate the Lord s Supper we are reminded that Jesus is coming back, maybe this year, maybe this week! And 8 so, we are spurred on to look for and prepare for that day. Are you ready for Jesus return? Are all your friends and family? We need to prepare. So, as we gather around the Lord s table this morning, I encourage you to remember the roots of this event in Jesus Last Supper with his disciples right before he was crucified. As you celebrate what God has done for you, look back to Jesus death on your behalf. Look to Jesus presence with us this morning. And make sure you are preparing for Jesus return.
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