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TRINITY EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
REV. KURT E. REINHARDT
And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” And he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.” And the disciples set out and went to the city and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.
And when it was evening, he came with the twelve. And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” They began to be sorrowful and to say to him one after another, “Is it I?” He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the dish with me. For 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.”
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.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
And as they were eating… They were in the middle of the Passover meal. The meal that they celebrated every year to remember and give thanks to God for the night when He set them free from slavery in the land of Egypt. The night when the Angel of death had passed through that land and claimed the lives of every first born male, but passed over the homes that were marked with the blood of the lamb, that God had told them to kill and eat that night.
And as they were eating… They were in the middle of eating when Jesus suddenly, without warning, without explanation, takes the bread, blesses it, breaks it and gives it to them saying,“Take, this is my Body.” And takes the cup, gives thanks and gives it to them, saying, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for the many.” He does it as they were eating, in the middle of their Passover meal.
Now you need to understand that the Passover was not just a special meal like we have at Thanksgiving or Christmas, where we eat things like turkey with grandma’s special stuffing, because that’s what we’ve always done. The Passover was much more than a typical traditional meal. Christmas dinner might not seem like Christmas dinner, if you had turkey burgers instead of roast turkey, but if there was no lamb with the Passover it wasn’t the Passover.
The big difference between the Passover meal and all other traditional meals, is that unlike all other traditional meals, the Passover wasn’t established by Grandma Schmidt, who one year thought it would be a good idea to add pecans to the stuffing, and so Christmas just isn’t Christmas, without Grandma Schmidt’s pecan laced stuffing. The Passover and its menu were set down through Moses by the Lord God Himself. It was a statute that they were to keep at its appointed time from year to year.
The Passover was much more than a family feast. It was for the whole family and anyone in the house who happened to be circumcised. You might invite anyone to Christmas dinner, but not to the Passover. It was sacred, a holy time, with holy food, for a holy people. Only the circumcised were allowed to eat it - only people who were marked for the Lord. It was the meal of the released, the rescued, even as it marked the moment of that rescue, and confirmed them in the truth of it year by year.
The Passover was more than a tradition it was God’s meal - laid out by the Lord Himself for His people. The menu, the guests and the time all laid down by the Lord God of Israel. You have to have all that in mind, beloved, when you see Jesus take the bread and the cup, bless them and give them to His disciples saying what He says about them. Having all of that in mind opens up profound truths about what the Lord Jesus gives us as He gives it.
The first thing to take special note of, is that it proves beyond question that Jesus is the Lord Jesus. It is not just the man Jesus, the Rabbi Jesus or just Jesus Christ. It is our Lord Jesus Christ. Who else can do anything with the Lord’s meal? Now heaven might need to help you if you messed with Grandma Schmidt’s pecan laced stuffing at Christmas time, but try messing with God’s things, and all that you'll see as you turn your eyes upward, is the fire coming down to consume you.
Jesus could have given His disciples His supper at some other time. If it was just a memorial meal He could have given it some time before this night or even after it. He could have given it when He would’ve had days to answer questions and explain it all, or sometime after His resurrection when He could make all the connections for them and unpack it all. But He doesn’t. It is as they are eating the Lord’s Passover that He takes the bread and a cup and does what He does and says what He says.
Jesus is Lord. That’s why He does what He does and why He does it when He does it. He is showing that He is the Lord by doing it at that time, which is important because it is the only way that what He says can make any sense. This is my body? This is my blood? What ordinary man could or would say such things? And why? But God made flesh, yes, that’s something different altogether. God made flesh is unlimited. He can make Himself present wherever He wants to, in a limited way if He so chooses (such as in bread and wine), but He can’t be boxed in by anything.
And so if He wants His body to be present in the bread and His blood in the wine, while He is sitting right there in front of them. He certainly can. With His Word “is” it can be and is so. No man could do such a thing, but the I AM made man can and does. In this way He shows the disciples that the eating that they will do in His supper is a sacramental eating, an eating that shares His whole self with them, His whole flesh and whole blood, because as He shares Himself with each of them in the bread and the wine He remains intact there in front of them.
And as they were eating the Lord Jesus as very God of very God changes everything, as only God can do. The Passover from that moment on never would be, could be, the same. He gave His supper while they were eating the Passover to show that it fulfilled it. Every Passover from the very first one eaten in Egypt to the one on that very night was leading up to Him taking the bread and the cup, and doing what He did, and saying what He said, to give what He gave. God gave the Passover, because on this day, Our Lord Jesus Christ was going to give His supper.
The upper room was furnished and made ready over hundreds of years, for the exact moment when our Lord Jesus Christ would take the bread and the cup and say that they were His body and blood. From the moment Adam and Eve ate of the tree that they were not to eat from, God planned out this moment in time for this meal. The whole history of God’s people lead up to it. It was all furnishing the room and making it ready for what He was going to do, for what He was going to give. Is it any wonder then, that the Church has treasured this precious gift for the last two thousand years, and why She calls you to treasure it in your life?
It is the meal of the released, the rescued, even as it marks the moment of that rescue and confirms us in the truth of it, as often as it is celebrated. It is a sacred time, a holy time, with a holy food for a holy people. Only a people marked for the Lord may eat of it. It is for the baptized - the members of the God’s own household. In it we receive the flesh and blood of the Lamb of God given and shed on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins… given and shed so that death might pass over us, so that we can be led out of this life into the Promised Land of the New Jerusalem.
Every time that the bread and the cup are lifted up before you, the Lord wants you to see the whole life of Israel and the whole life of the Church converging on the moment in time, when as they were eating, our Lord Jesus Christ took the bread and the cup and said this is my body, this is my blood. And unbelievably, and it is unbelievable without the Spirit’s work, He wants you at the same time to hear and believe the words “for you.” Because the idea that God could put His body in bread and His blood in wine is really not that hard to believe, that He would do it for me, that, beloved, would be impossible to believe, if He didn’t say it to me with His Spirit filled Word and put that very body and blood right in my mouth.
And so on this Holy night as you receive this awesome gift He wants you to hear: “‘For you’ from the beginning of time when I planned it all out. ‘For you’ on the first Passover. ‘For you’ on each one after it. ‘For you’ on the night when I was betrayed. ‘For you’ ever since then. ‘For you’ tonight. And ‘for you’ into eternity.” Amen.