March 6, 2022

Momentous Moment in History

                The Bible teaches us that God plans well. During the last days before his crucifixion, Jesus executed a careful plan to celebrate the Passover in secrecy with his disciples.

His plan unfolds like a John Grisham novel. Peter and John are sent to prepare the room for the supper, though the location is unknown even to them. They learn the location by finding and following a man carrying a jar of water on his head. The man led the two disciples to a home with a large upper room. Peter and John found everything just as Jesus said it would be.

Preparing the meal was not an easy task. The Passover lamb had to be roasted. Unleavened bread, without yeast, (matzah) had to be baked. In addition, they had to secure a bowl of salt water (to remind them of the tears of slavery), bitter herbs (reminding them of the bitterness of slavery), a sauce made of fruit, nuts, and wine (charoset). Peter may have said to John, “We could have used Martha’s help with all this!”

The meal was ready when Jesus and the other disciples arrived. As they began to eat, what Jesus said saddened their hearts. Rather bluntly, Jesus said that one of them would betray him. One by one, the disciples asked the sobering question, “Is it I?” Since none of the disciples said, “Say it isn’t so, Judas!,” we may assume they did not understand that Judas was the betrayer, even though Jesus intimated the traitor was Judas.

                The meal they shared that night is what the church calls “the institution of the Lord’s Supper.” Jesus takes the bread and, after giving thanks, he gives it to the disciples, saying, “Take, eat; this is my body.” Then he takes the cup, and again giving thanks, he passes the cup among them saying, “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many.”

                With these words, Jesus gave rich, new meaning to the traditional Passover meal. On that historic night, a new covenant superseded the old covenant. The new covenant signaled the arrival of the Kingdom, which offered a new relationship between God and his people. Jesus was the new Lamb of God; henceforth no other lambs would need be slain. Since that momentous moment in history, the followers of Christ have celebrated this meal in obedience to his command, “Do this in remembrance of me.”

                As Christians of many traditions, we have our differences about the meaning of Holy Communion and the rudiments of serving it. However, without question, the Lord’s Supper remains the central worship experience of Christendom. There is general agreement that in the observance of the Lord’s supper, the living Christ is present, so we can joyfully sing, “He is here, Hallelujah!” He is the Host of the meal, and lay and clergy alike are blessed by this sweet communion with our Lord. With sobering gratitude, we sing, “He took my sins and my sorrows, He made them His very own; He bore the burden to Calvary, and suffered, and died alone.” Again, and again, we remember His sacrifice for our sins!

                Often wonderful experiences occur as we partake of the holy sacrament. It stirs the sensitive soul to hear, as you take the bread and the cup, the solemn words, “Jesus died for you.” Many times, as a pastor, I have had someone kneeling at the altar to look into my eyes, their own eyes filled with tears, and say words like Catherine said one time, “Please ask the Lord to heal my broken heart.”

                I am uncertain about some things, but I am absolutely confident that the living Christ has healed many broken hearts during Holy Communion. Believe this: Our Risen Lord is ready to graciously meet all our needs when, accepting his invitation and repenting of our sins, we meet Him at His Table. + + +