Have Your Cake and Eat it Too
Switching things up for Easter - taking a break from the Unhindered theme.
The Cross Leads to the Resurrection
The Cross Leads to the Resurrection
The most pivotal point for every believer and follower of Christ is the Resurrection.
Paul says that if Christ didn’t resurrect from the dead than we are the most pitiable of people.
Everything that we do in this place this morning -
is all worthless, if there is no resurrection.
It’s what causes Christianity to stand out among any other world religion. - Our religious leader (the son of THE GOD) came out of the grave.
He lives again
Which means that everything he came to do has been accomplished.
But we cannot celebrate the resurrection without first looking at the cross.
Jesus’ resurrection would mean nothing if there wasn’t first a suffering
The passover lamb had to be slaughtered
His blood needed to be applied to the door post
And so over the next few weeks, I want to look at the path of suffereing, the events that led up to the greatest celebration of all.
But remember, the disciples had nothing to celebrate if they first hadn’t experienced the great loss that they had.
Now on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?” And He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.” ’ ” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover. When evening had come, He sat down with the twelve. Now as they were eating, He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.” And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and each of them began to say to Him, “Lord, is it I?” He answered and said, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me. The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, “Rabbi, is it I?” He said to him, “You have said it.” And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
I want to preach from these last few verses this morning. What we know as the Last Supper.
These are probably some of the best known words of Christ throughout the history of his church.
And as I tell you every time that we come to this table, this institution of the communion is more than just religious.
Jesus is up to something in our lives here.
He is leaving something to his church that is powerful and enduring. This is what I want to look at this morning.
And I want to look at it from three different perspectives this morning.
It’s Setting - the time, the people and more precisely the situation of it.
And then I want to look at it’s significance:
first to the disciples
Second to us.
The Setting of This Last Supper.
The Setting of This Last Supper.
The feast of the unleavened bread was to mark and remember the exodus out of Egypt.
The people would be set free, but God would do so in such an expedient way that they needed to be ready.
They had to take their bread pans and their flour without yeast.
They wouldn’t have time to wait for the bread to rise.
This feast lasted a whole week, which was started off with the celebration of the passover.
Jerusalem was a buzz with activity.
The Normal people who were always visiting there
The added group of visitors in for the passover
The extra Roman soldiers there to squelch any thing that may lead to an uprising
and the Jewish authorities on a manhunt.
They were trying to deal with a situation that had just taken place a few days before - This man Jesus had written into town on a donkey and the people went crazy worshiping him.
This man had to die. He was not just turning over tables in the temple, he was turning over the whole idea of temple worship itself. And he had to be stopped
Jesus is not far away - Bethany - spending time with friends.
The disciples were probably wondering what this passover would be like. Would they get to spend it together with Jesus, but they couldn’t go into Jerusalem with Jesus because things had gotten so dangerous for him.
But Jesus had already taken care of things and worked things out with a friend who had an upper room in Jerusalm that they could use - So Jesus sends his disciples into town to make ready.
The Passover Meal
The Passover Meal
the meal that celebrated their God
The God who was with them
The God who heard their cries from their persecution and slavery in Egypt
The God who had brought them out of that slavery
The God who had led them and clothed them and fed them and watered them and kept them safe through the wilderness journey
And the God who had brought them into the promise land
The meal would have elements in it each reminding them of what God had done.
The meal celebrated the blood of the lamb
The pass over lamb - first born dead in Egypt, but not in the land that Israel occupied.
The meal celebrated their hopes for a future
Though they had been set free so long ago and in their own land they still felt like slaves
They had been placed under the rule of the Roman Empire
They longed for God to once again come to their rescue and set them free again
So the passover meal looked to the past to what God had done and to the future, believing that God would do it again. Or actually that God was still doing it.
There was a prescribed way of doing things and saying things and all that had to happen, but Jesus is about to say something that was unscripted and would affect those in his presence in an amazing way.
At first they would not get it - and they would look at him with wondering eyes
But as they stood at the cross on the next day, and when they saw him walk out of the tomb, they would have a much greater understanding.
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
Part of the liturgy of the passover was that at one particular point the host of the meal would break the unleavened bread and pronounce a blessing over it. - Blessed are thou, O Lord Our God, King of the universe, who bringest forth bread from the earth - and we know that Jesus did that, because we read here - “after he had given thanks.”
Then he should have gone on and said, This is the bread of affliction that our fathers ate. Reminding them that the bread represented their sufferings of slavery in egypt all those years ago.
But Jesus changes it up and shocks everyone - He says, Take and eat, this is my body (and the other gospels will add - which is given for you)
Jesus understood what was about to happen
He knew that he would die - that his body would be the final sacrifice for sin, and broken just like the bread was broken.
And he is telling his disciples something wonderful - that in eating the bread, they would be partakers in the benefit of everything that he was about to do.
Just like Israel benefited from the sacrifice of the pass over lamb.
Don’t miss this - Jesus was saying, I am the broken bread
I am the new passover
I am that new way out (the exodus) that you have been looking for
For all of this to happen, I give my life.
Then he takes the cup (probably the third cup as there are four in the passover meal)
Each cup represent four promises that God made to the people during the passover
I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians
I will free you from being slaves to them
I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment
I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.
It is probably the third (I will redeem you) that Jesus says what he says here.
Again, there would be a prayer and a blessing which Jesus most likely did because it says again that he gave thanks.
That prayer would have been, Blessed are thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who givest us the fruit of the vine. And the cup would then be passed
But again Jesus changes things up and says before passing the cup - This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
These word very familiar to us - but imagine hearing them for the first time
Imagine in this setting
very significant, because of the three phrases that Jesus chooses to use here
my blood of the covenant
(pay attention to 6-11
Now He said to Moses, “Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship from afar. And Moses alone shall come near the Lord, but they shall not come near; nor shall the people go up with him.” So Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the judgments. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which the Lord has said we will do.” And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord. And he rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars according to the twelve tribes of Israel. Then he sent young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Lord. And Moses took half the blood and put it in basins, and half the blood he sprinkled on the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the Lord has said we will do, and be obedient.” And Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, “This is the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you according to all these words.” Then Moses went up, also Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel. And there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the very heavens in its clarity. But on the nobles of the children of Israel He did not lay His hand. So they saw God, and they ate and drank.
Did you see that combination - sacrifice, blood, covenant and a meal in the presence of God. This is what that is. This is where Jesus is at.
The original covenant (the sacrifice and blood) sealed the relationship between God and his people Israel after the exodus
And Jesus is saying this is my sacrifice and blood of the covenant that will seal the relationship between you and me. I am redeeming you through a new covenant and you and I will be one.
2. poured out for many
Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.
Jesus says - this is my blood poured out for the many
In other words, I am that obedient servant of God, and in that obedience I am giving my life that through my death I will bear the sin of many others - namely you.
3. For the forgiveness of sins
“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
That last phrase - that’s what Israel had longed for
That God would forgive them and hold nothing against them and release them from this bondage that they had been under as a result of that sin
That they would be brought back into fellowship with God
And this is what Jesus is saying - that is happening now. That is happening through me. And it is through my death and the giving of my blood and life that will bring it about.
You see the disciples knew all of these verses - they got it.
The things that Jesus was speaking here, though they didn’t understand the method nor were they very happy about it.
These were the yearnings of their hearts.
This is what they prayed for as a nation
This is what they beleived God for each and every day.
What Does it Mean to Me?
What Does it Mean to Me?
We have a communion table in our church this morning. It is always stocked with the elements of remembrance.
It is always available.
The disciples didn’t get the picture of everything that Jesus was saying until the next day and the third day after that. - the death and resurrection of not only their friend and teacher, but now their savior and their God.
The exodus was the most important event in Israel’s history. - If it had not happened, we would not know a nation named Israel today - they would still be serving as slaves in Egypt or some other country.
If the passover lamb had not been slain, they would only know death and greif.
If the blood of that covenant had not been shed their relationship with God would have never been sealed
But all of those things happened.
My brothers and sisters:
The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ make up the most important event of our lives as believers in Jesus Christ.
If it had not happened, we would still be in bondage and slaves to sin - with no hope.
If it had not happened we would still be spiritually dead
If it had not happened we would still be separated from God
But it did happen.
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
And whenever we celebrate the Lord’s Supper together we need to be excited and grateful
Jesus gave his life so we wouln’t have to die in our sin
Jesus faced things in that death that you and I could never face - and he came through victorious
He took our sin before Go so that we don’t go before God in our sin
We have something to be excited about
We have something that has been given to us that should just put a joy and a song in our hearts.
And that’s the last thing
Our verses close with and after they had sung a hymn
We don’t understand this, so we miss it.
What were they singing as they walked to the Mount of Olives?
It would be customary that they would sing the Great Hallel
It is still sung today by Jews at the end of the passover meal
It is . And I would encourage you this week to go through those Psalms and put yourself in the place of Jesus or his disciples as they sung them. and keep in mind that they were headed to the Garden of Gethsamene and we know what that holds for Jesus.
But let me read for you just a few of these verses
I love the Lord, because He has heard My voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live. The pains of death surrounded me, And the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I implore You, deliver my soul!”
For You have delivered my soul from death, My eyes from tears, And my feet from falling. I will walk before the Lord In the land of the living. I believed, therefore I spoke, “I am greatly afflicted.”
I will pay my vows to the Lord Now in the presence of all His people. Precious in the sight of the Lord Is the death of His saints. O Lord, truly I am Your servant; I am Your servant, the son of Your maidservant; You have loosed my bonds.
I shall not die, but live, And declare the works of the Lord. The Lord has chastened me severely, But He has not given me over to death.