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Good morning,
If you have your bibles with you let me invite you to open with me to the book of Mark chapter 14.
We will read verses 22-25 and then pray for understanding here in just a moment.
If you have been around Christianity for very long, you will recognize this morning’s text as an important text.
This is where Jesus institutes the Lord’s Supper.…
one of the most important moments of Christian worship in the church.
So we are going to read the text and then we are going to work through some background information which will help us understand the importance of this moment.
then we are going to look at..
Two things the Supper is not.
Three things God does through the Supper
and Three ways we respond to God through the supper.
So lets read, pray, and dive in.
Lets Pray
In last week’s text.., we saw that preparations were being made by Jesus.
He sent two of his disciples to secure a location for Jesus and his disciples to celebrate the passover meal.
The tension at this point in the narrative is high.
In Mark chapter 14, we have just been told that the religious leaders are actively scheming to murder Jesus.
And we have now been told that Judas, is aiming to betray Jesus and deliver Jesus into their hands.
Jesus’ death is now imminent…
It is coming to pass, just as Jesus had predicted time and time again…
but before his arrest,
before his betrayal,
before his crucifixion,
Jesus desires to share this meal with his disciples.
I say THIS meal, because it is not just any meal…
It is the passover meal.. in fact Luke tells us of Jesus’ desire explicitly.
This meal is what Jesus had earnestly desired to eat with his disciples.
We know this from Mark simply by the care that Jesus took to arrange the meal.…
If you remember, last week, Jesus flexed his divine knowledge a bit and told the disciples exactly who to meet and what to say so that they had a place to enjoy this meal and all things happened exactly as Jesus Directed.
And it is no accident that THIS meal is the passover.
We cannot understand this Last Supper, the Lord’s Supper, without understanding its connection to the annual supper of the passover.
Passover was integral to what it meant to be a Jew.
It was the annual reminder of God’s greatest act of salvation in the history of the world until that point.
Even our English word Pass-Over reminds us of what the feast was designed to teach.
The feast was designed to remind the people of God of the day that God’s wrath passed over them in Egypt.
If your unfamiliar with the story, let me give you the cliff notes.
The book of Exodus begins with a dismal portrayal of God’s people.
They are imprisoned, forced into difficult labor, and their children are being thrown into the Nile River by an evil Egyptian empire.
They are portrayed as helpless, hopeless, and crying out to God to deliver them.
And in Exodus 6, God answers.
God calls Moses to himself, and sends Moses on a mission to confront the evil empire of Egypt.
God pummels the Egyptians with supernatural plagues from heaven and Pharoah continuously refuses to free God’s people…
after 9 truly awful plagues…, God warns of a tenth and final plague.
He will unleash his wrath upon every household in Egypt so that the first born Son of each household will die.
The only way of escape would be to follow Gods instructions very carefully.
Kill a spotless lamb…
spread its blood upon the doorposts of your house…
eat the lamb together
and prepare to leave because your leaving Egypt the next day.
All those who ignored God and did not hide beneath the blood of the lamb… experienced the wrath of God.
All those who trusted God and the blood of the lamb… were passed over that night…
They did not experience the wrath of God… the lamb’s blood atoned for or covered the house so that no one in the house had to die….
and the next day they were set free to follow the Lord toward the promised land.…
They would walk out of Egypt …
they would walk through the Red Sea on dry ground only to turn around and watch the most powerful army in the world be crushed by the full force of the Red Sea collapsing over top of them.
They would follow God manifested in a pillar of smoke by day and fire by night.
They would eat miracle bread from heaven, and drink miracle water from a rock.
The Exodus story in its totality is a display of God’s power, God’s wrath, God’s grace, God’s mercy.., and God’s faithfulness to fulfill his promises.
Such a salvation deserved to be remembered.
The people of Israel would not always see God acting in such miraculous ways.
Things would not always be as clear and joyful as that day that they marched out of Egypt toward freedom…
but they would need to remember that day.
They would need to remember that God is more powerful then any empire in the world.
They would need to remember that God is merciful, gracious, and kind to them and that he had gone great lengths to save them.
They would need to remember to be thankful, joyful, and at peace under the loving leadership of their God.
even in God’s instructions to the Israelites when the event was about to happen…
God said that this would be an event that they would need to actively and intentionally remember.…
In order to help Israel remember such a mighty salvation… God gave them the gift of the passover feast.
Every year Israelites were to gather together to retell the story and to feast just as they had feasted the night before their great salvation.
This passover meal was God’s design not only for the individuals who experienced it to remember…
but it was God’s design for instructing and sustaining the faith of the next generation and the next generation.
Imagine eating the passover meal together, where the head of the household retells the story and the children ask questions, and you all eat unleavened bread because thats what the Israelites ate on that night long ago when they had to hurry out the next day.
And you eat lamb and you discuss the significance of the blood of the lamb being placed on the door so that the wrath of God would passover the home.
Every year, every generation, the people of God were to remember this very particular very unique act of salvation…
now fast forward a thousand years or so and here sits Jesus… celebrating with his disciples a remembrance of God’s most mighty act of salvation in human history ‘thus far’
and sitting at passover meal… Jesus now goes off script…
He does what only Jesus could do.
He sits at a meal commanded to be observed by God himself… and Jesus assigns seemingly new meaning to it About a new covenant between God and man.
But its not really new meaning as much as it is an illumination of the Passover meal’s fulfilled meaning.
The Israelites had not been remembering the passover story for 1,000 years only for their own spiritual nourishment…
They had been remembering the passover story for 1,000 years so that they might recognize what the events of the Exodus foreshadowed.
When God ordained the sacrifice of the spotless lamb in Exodus 12:5,
God ordained the death of that Lamb so that it would point forward to the accomplishment of another spotless lamb to come.
When God saved his people from slavery in Egypt and destroyed Pharoah… he was preparing the world for a much grander salvation of A much larger people from a much more powerful slave master.
John the Baptist new exactly who Jesus was and what he had come to do On the day Jesus began his public ministry.
and here on this night before Jesus’ blood would be splattered on the wooden posts of the cross.…
Jesus takes the elements of the passover feast…
and he essentially says these things are actually about me.
There is a new covenant, a new salvation to remember now.
Jesus instituted this new way of remembrance that you and I call the Lord’s Supper, or perhaps you call it the Eucharist (which means thanksgiving), or perhaps you call it communion.
Jesus gave a command to his disciples which is not recorded here but that the disciples obviously heeded according to Luke.
Jesus was establishing a new meal of remembrance that should be observed by all Christians in every generation…
All four of the gospel writers highlight the importance of this moment..
And we actually have a window into first century churches observing this through Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.
1 Corinthians was written to a church over two decades after this passover evening with Jesus’ disciples.…
and Paul says… I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you…
In other words… this practice of observing a meal in remembrance of God’s great salvation through Jesus was passed down from one Christian generation to the next in obedience to Jesus’ command on this night.
So thats a bit of the background.
That’s a bit of the foundational material we need to start piecing together the significance of the supper.
But there is still more work to be done before we move positively into what God does through the supper… because over the centuries, different church traditions assigned new and foreign meanings to what was happening here.
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