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Lest we forget

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The Passover with the Disciples.

[Mark 14:12]

Last month on the 22nd of February, there was a day set aside, a memorial day – a day to remember the earthquake that hit Christchurch a year before. I don’t know if you did anything out here to commemorate it – had a time of silence perhaps. The road cones around our street were filled with flowers and my daughter and her friend had a great time in their kayaks fishing out all the flowers that people had dropped in the river. But we do have special days to remember significant events – in two days time there is a very important one: 53 years since the day I was born. We have ANZAC day to remember those that gave their life in war, especially the First World War, in order to preserve our freedom. Often on the war memorial you will see engraved: “Lest we forget” [OHP]. Something so important has happened that we mark it and determine that it will never be forgotten. The people of Israel had several such occasions that they marked with festivals; perhaps the most important of all was Passover – it was the defining moment that turned a collection of families and tribes into a nation. This Hebrew people had been slaves in Egypt and God had performed a mighty and miraculous deliverance from the most powerful nation on earth – He went through the land killing every firstborn son there, except those who had but blood from the Passover lamb on the door of their homes. If the blood was there on the door, the angel of death passed over that house. Then there they were pinned between the mighty Egyptian army and the sea – and their God יְהוָה separated the sea with a wind so that there was dry land and they could cross, then the sea came back down upon the pursuing Egyptian army and they were all drowned. It was spectacular; it was wonderful and was forever memorialized in a special feast: the Passover. Jews to this day continue to observe Passover. And that is what I have been told to speak about tonight: “The Passover with the disciples” in [Mark 14:12 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the day the lambs for the Passover meal were killed, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and get the Passover meal ready for you?”] I know they want to cut down on the length of what we say, but that is all there is to the passage I’ve been allocated. But there is a setting in which this occurred: Jesus was in Jerusalem, antagonism to Him by the Jewish authorities was mounting; people wanted Him killed. It was a tense time. Jesus knew that His life here on earth was near its end. Jesus wanted to spend one last special memorable meal with His disciples – this was the Passover meal. And Jesus deliberately made it especially memorable – He did not want His disciples to forget, and His followers have remembered it regularly and faithfully ever since. In the course of the Passover meal unleavened bread is eaten – to remember their rapid departure from Egypt all those years ago – they had to leave so fast they didn’t have time to let their bread rise. Also during the meal four cups of wine were drunk. Jesus used these elements of the Passover meal to forever fix something in His disciples’ minds. Let’s read [Mark 14:22-25 While they were eating, Jesus took a piece of bread, gave a prayer of thanks, broke it, and gave it to his disciples. “Take it,” he said, “this is My body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks to God, and handed it to them; and they all drank from it. Jesus said, “This is My blood which is poured out for many, My blood which seals God’s covenant. I tell you, I will never again drink this wine until the day I drink the new wine in the Kingdom of God.”] There are two things Jesus wanted us to remember: His body, as pictured in the unleavened bread; and His blood, as pictured by the cup of wine – the emblems of communion that has been commemorated for 20 centuries.

My Body: Why did Jesus want us to remember His body? [OHP] Why do we remember His body? Why is it so important? In Luke it records Jesus saying: [Luke 22:19 Then he took a piece of bread, gave thanks to God, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in memory of Me.”] Jesus wanted them to remember. This is a vital fact. It is a great mystery [1 Timothy 3:16 Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body…. ] Men have struggled in their minds: how you can have God and man at the same time? – it blew all their mental fuses. It raises all sorts of logical problems – for example: how can you have someone who is essentially immortal and one who is essential mortal at the same time. The more you think about it the more impossible it seems to the human reasoning. So very quickly men divided into two camps: those who said that Jesus was God, and not a man; and those who said that He was a man and not really God. All the main heresies in the church were over this issue. Man’s brain couldn’t cope with it. But it was true: [John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.] But isn’t this just getting het up over doctrinal details? – does it matter? It is a matter of vital importance that Jesus actually was a man, a human being like us. Why? Man had failed God’s requirements, broken His rules – and the judgement and verdict of God on that crime is the death penalty. Man had sinned – the inevitable consequence is His destruction. But Jesus came to save men from that tragic fate. But it was man who had committed the crime; therefore it was man who must pay the penalty. Jesus is God, God is immortal, He never dies – for the death penalty to be carried out, Jesus had to become man. [Philippians 2:6-8 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!]. The penalty for the crime had to be paid; the sentence had to be carried out. It says: [Isaiah 53:6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.] Instead of us serving the sentence Jesus did – but to do so He had to appear in a body. [1 Peter 2:24 Christ Himself carried our sins in His body to the cross, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness. It is by His wounds that you have been healed.] Only by Jesus dying as a man could the penalty for man’s sin be exacted – we no longer have to serve that intolerable sentence. Jesus came to bring LIFE – eternal life, life in all its fullness. So remembering Jesus body is of imperative importance!

My Blood: Why did Jesus want us to remember His blood? [OHP] Why do we remember His blood? Why is it so important? In Matthew it records Jesus saying: [Matthew 26:27-28 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.] There was an old covenant that required the people of God to keep each and every requirement of the Law. But Jesus was making a new covenant in His blood – instead of us doing it, He did it. When Jesus died His side was pierced with a spear and His blood was poured out. The prophet Isaiah said: [Isaiah 53:12 He poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.] Jesus bore the sin of many so that their sin could be forgiven. His blood was for the forgiveness of sin, to cleanse us from the stain of the filthiness of our sin [1 John 1:7 If we walk in the light, the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.] The bread reminds us of Jesus’ body; that He was a man – that is vital – but it is not enough. I said that a man had to die to pay the penalty for man’s sin – but it couldn’t be just any man’s death. Men have laid down their lives for their fellow men before now but it didn’t pay the penalty. Say, for example, you had a big financial debt and I offered to pay it for you – it would be no good if I didn’t have any credit in my own account, I couldn’t pay it. And that is why not just any man could pay the death penalty – you see we all are in debt ourselves – we have no credit to pay the debt with. We have no credit because we all have sinned. The credit that is required is not dollars but righteousness – and there is none righteous but God alone. So Jesus not only had to be man, He had to be God at the same time. When Jesus died on the cross one of the last things He said was “tetelestai” or “It is finished!” It means: “paid in full”. Jesus paid the debt in full on the cross – a debt that only He, as God, could pay. [1 Corinthians 6:20 For you have been bought with a price.] Jesus paid the price, paid the debt. What did He pay with?: [1 Peter 1:18-19 you were not redeemed (purchased out of bondage) with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.] Jesus paid the price with His own precious blood – blood that was extremely precious because He was unblemished, spotless, had no sin at all. That is extremely rare – in fact He is the only one! That is why His death satisfied the debt; only He had the credit of righteousness that could pay the debt, that is why He is worthy: [Revelation 5:9 You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.] How do we know He was sinless? Because death had no hold on Him, it couldn’t claim Him. The wages of sin is death, but Jesus did not get those wages. Jesus rose again from the dead. He was vindicated by the Spirit as being absolutely righteous. That is the Gospel: that Jesus the Messiah died for our sins according the Scriptures, was buried and rose again of the third day, according to the Scriptures. That is why we remember the blood – because with it our sins are forgiven; removed – we are cleansed and purchased for God. By it we enter into a new covenant agreement with God, whereby we become His children and receive His life. We no longer rely upon ourselves to meet God’s requirements; we depend upon Jesus having already met them. We do this to remember Him and all that He has so wonderfully done on our behalf: Jesus is God but became a man, He appeared in a body, His body was offered up in our place, a sacrifice for sin; His blood removes the sin of the one who puts his dependence, not upon his own goodness but on the work of the One who is absolutely righteous, yet who became sin so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. The terrible burden of what we have done wrong can only be removed through the blood of Jesus – by entering into a covenant with God through His blood. If you haven’t done that you can do it tonight. We remember Jesus, His body and His blood, because He has done great things for us.

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