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“Jesus Institutes the Lord’s Supper,” Matthew 26:17–30

 

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17Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 18He 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.’” 19And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover.

      20When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. 21And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” 23He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. 24The 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.” 25Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.”

      26Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”   30And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

 

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

last-supper2On the night that Jesus was betrayed into the hands of sinners, He held what is called the ‘Last Supper’ with His disciples.

That ‘Last Supper’ is not at all ‘Last’ for us.

Jesus instituted it for you.

Our Lord says, “As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26).

The meal in which we partake of Christ’s very body and blood is a proclamation of “the Lord’s death till He comes” again in His glory.

It is a meal of remembrance, but a meal of remembrance in the way of faith and confidence in the Lord’s Word and work and not merely by way of ‘not forgetting’.

The Lord’s Supper is a meal in which the Lord Himself distributes what only He Himself gives.

Though the eyes see one thing, the ears hear more than the eyes see.

The Lord would have us believe what He says.

This is how one eats and drinks the true body and blood of our Lord worthily, having faith in the very Words that the Lord speaks.

True confidence and lasting peace are found in God’s Word alone, even the Incarnate Word, who says, “Given and shed FOR YOU for the forgiveness of sins.”

In the Lord’s Supper the Lord Jesus gives His very body and His very blood to eat and to drink for the remission of sins.

As Dr. Luther had said before, “That person is truly worthy and well prepared who has faith in these words: ‘Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.’ But anyone who does not believe these words or doubts them is unworthy and unprepared, for the words ‘for you’ require all hearts to believe.” (Luther’s Small Catechism, The Sacrament of the Altar, ‘Who, then, receives such Sacrament worthily?’)

We partake of the Lord’s Supper on the basis of God’s Word, having faith in that and not in ourselves.

Faith takes God at His Word, believing His Son, for you, not only in Word, but in bread and wine, in body and blood.

The Lord’s Supper is therefor offered in our churches, offered and not forced.

We cannot coerce anyone to believe.

We do not force anyone to receive the Sacrament of the Altar.

The Lord does not give it in order to burden consciences.  He gives it to comfort and to gladden the heart.  He gives it that you know that you are forgiven and that you have the Lord’s peace.

Jesus says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Even as the Lord gives rest in His Gospel, so also does the Lord give you rest in the Lord’s Supper, for the Lord’s Supper is Gospel.

In the Lord’s Supper, the Lord gives you this rest for your weary soul.

There, He provides and nourishes you unto eternal life.

There, He strengthens and preserves you to life everlasting.

If you feel or think that you are not worthy to receive the holy things of God, know that true worthiness does not consist in you.

Your sincerity of confession, the sorrow of your heart, or your ‘feeling’ of readiness is not the basis for going to the Lord’s Supper (or for certainty that God hears your prayers, that He cares for you, or that He loves you.

The basis for eating and drinking at the Lord’s Table is not you.

It is the Lord’s Word.

If you wait until you feel worthy to partake of the holy gifts of God, you never will.

Though you know yourself to be unworthy, as you confess yourself to be united with all sinners everywhere since the Fall, this supper is prepared for you, not because of your own righteousness, but because here the Lord gives you forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation.

“Where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation” (Luther’s Small Catechism, The Sacrament of the Altar, ‘What is the benefit of such eating and drinking?’).

Take Christ’s words as they are.

Many add to them, take away from them, or fully omit them, but this is not the right way.

Christ gave bread and said, “This is My body.”

Christ gave wine and said, “This is My blood.”

Jesus could not be clearer than this, saying what He meant and meaning what He said.

St. Paul says, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?” (1 Corinthians 10:16).

Sadly, not all believe with reference to what God says in His Word, here or elsewhere.

Not all believe that drinking from the cup is to partake of Christ’s blood.

Not all believe that eating the bread is to partake of Christ’s body.

Not all believe that fermented wine is to be used.

Some replace the wine with grape juice or some other drink, which is not according to Christ’s institution.

Not only is Christendom not in common union about the elements themselves.

Most within Christendom do not believe that the Lord’s Supper gives what Jesus actually gives, the full forgiveness of sins.

This is a problem!

Because not all who call themselves Christians are united in the faith about what our Lord says, even by His own clear testimony, we regrettably are not able to express true unity them as one before the world, simply for the reason that we are not clearly united as one in confession.

For this reason, our churches and the Christian church throughout her history has practiced ‘closed communion.

This is not the unloving practicing of welcoming all to the table, regardless of creed and confession.

It is the loving practice of clearly proclaiming Christ and Him crucified to a confused world, declaring that Christ and His Word does matter, that Christ’s body and blood, truly and really present with the bread and wine, are given for life and salvation.

This we believe and this we confess.

The Lord offers the Sacrament of the Altar for your salvation.

It is not the bodily eating and drinking that does this, but the words here written, “‘Given and shed for you for the remission of sins’; which words, besides the bodily eating and drinking, are the chief thing in the Sacrament; and he that believes these words has what they say and express, namely, the forgiveness of sins” (Luther’s Small Catechism, The Sacrament of the Altar, ‘How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things?’). Amen.

 

PrayingHands&Cross1O Lord, in this wondrous Sacrament You have left us a remembrance of Your passion. Grant that we may so receive the sacred mystery of Your body and blood that the fruits of Your redemption may continually be manifest in us; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect of the Day for Maundy Thursday)

 

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Scripture Readings for Maundy Thursday, 2012C

LastSupper

 Collect of the Day

O Lord, in this wondrous Sacrament You have left us a remembrance of Your passion.  Grant that we may so receive the sacred mystery of Your body and blood that the fruits of Your redemption may continually be manifest in us; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Old Testament: Jeremiah 31:31–34

31“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Epistle: Hebrews 10:15–25

15The Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,  16“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” 17then he adds,  “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”  18Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

  19Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Gospel: Luke 22:7–20

7Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying,  “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.” 9They said to him, “Where will you have us prepare it?” 10He said to them,  “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters 11and tell the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 12And he will show you a large upper room furnished; prepare it there.” 13And they went and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.

      14And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. 15And he said to them,  “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said,  “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying,  “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying,  “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”

___

Before Judas betrayed Jesus, before Peter denied our Lord, before His agony, suffering, and death, Jesus ate with His disciples.  But this was no ordinary meal.  It was Jesus’ Last Supper with His disciples.  It was the meal of all meals, the meal of the Passover, which found fulfillment in Christ, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).  Because Jesus was the sacrifice to end all sacrifices, the Passover had its end (Hebrews 7:27).

On that night, Jesus instituted The Lord’s Supper, also known as The Sacrament of the Altar, The Eucharist, and Holy Communion.  This Supper of our Lord, as our Lord’s Meal, is the meal of salvation for all who believe according to Christ’s Word.  Jesus gives bread and wine.  He also gives His true body and blood.  And He gives these for the forgiveness of sins.  This calls for faith, for faith alone believes the Word and promises of Christ.  Such faith takes God at His Word.  And taking God at His Word, the recipient of Christ’s body and blood in, with, and under the bread and the wine receive what God truly gives.  And where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation (Luther’s Small Catechism).

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