SONG Alleluia! Sing to Jesus
Alleluia, sing to Jesus!
his the sceptre, his the throne;
alleluia, his the triumph,
his the victory alone:
hark, the songs of peaceful Zion
thunder like a mighty flood;
Jesus out of every nation
has redeemed us by his blood.
Alleluia, not as orphans
are we left in sorrow now;
alleluia, he is near us,
faith believes, nor questions how:
though the cloud from sight received him,
when the forty days were o’er,
shall our hearts forget his promise,
‘I am with you evermore’?
Alleluia, bread of angels,
thou on earth our food, our stay;
alleluia, here the sinful
flee to thee from day to day:
Intercessor, Friend of sinners,
earth’s Redeemer, plead for me,
where the songs of all the sinless
sweep across the crystal sea.
READING Matthew 26: 17 – 30
17 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”
18 He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’” 19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.
20 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. 21 And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”
22 They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?”
23 Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”
25 Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?”
Jesus answered, “You have said so.”
26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
30 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
SERMON The Lord’ Supper
The Upper Room – what it is all about ? Could you give a reasonable explanation of what we call COMMUNION.
From the four Gospels: the disciples go ahead – Jesus arrives – they eat the Passover on that Thursday evening – Jesus washes the disciples feet – After the Passover meal, Jesus says Judas will betray Him – and Judas goes out to do just that.
Then Jesus had a whole host of things to teach the disciples on this last night of His earthly life – words of comfort and hope – the promise of the Holy Spirit – and Jesus’ great high-priestly prayer.
Then Jesus introduces something new – a special symbolic meal bread & wine – this comes after the Jewish Passover, and will very soon replace the Passover meal – it will become known as the Lord’s Supper.
They sang a hymn – very likely from the Hallel Psalms 115 – 118.
Then they went out to the Mount of Olives
The first and most obvious thing to say about the Lord’s Supper was that Jesus ate it with His disciples and told them to eat and drink in this way.
We have only TWO sacraments in the Reformed Church – namely Baptism and the Lord’s Supper – the reason for these is that Jesus commanded His disciples to do these things.
Our first reason for celebrating the Lord’s Supper, then, is simply to obey Jesus. But blind obedience is NOT ENOUGH.
The eating of the Jewish Passover meal and the institution of the Lord’s Supper come very close to one another – and this is quite deliberate – there is a very close connection between the two – indeed, they are entirely tied up with one another (like baptism and circumcision).
You know the history of the Passover – It was the great act of God in their history. They looked back on this with the greatest of thanksgiving. But the Jews did not hereby enter a trouble-free life of ease. They went through some horrendous episodes in their history and at these times, as well as looking back to God’s salvation from Egypt – they also looked forward to that even greater day when God would come to bring a fuller salvation. The faithful Jews looked for this day – they prayed for it, they worked for it, they believed in it – and NOW that day had arrived – THIS WAS IT !
And to mark the occasion, the OLD feast of Passover, was replaced by Jesus’ NEW feast. The promises of God in Egypt were largely limited to the one nation – the nation of Israel – but NOW the NEW COVENANT – the NEW PROMISE of God was for the WORLD. Here is wonderful news for THE WHOLE WORLD – Jesus has come to set the oppressed free.
The first thing to observe is the PARTICIPANTS.
Judas had LEFT the room BEFORE they ate the Lord’s Last Supper. All that were left were the FAITHFUL ELEVEN disciples. This meal is ONLY for those who love the Lord Jesus in sincerity and in faith.
This is a Covenant meal – God’s promised people sitting to eat with their God and Father.
The second thing to say about the meal is that it is an occasion of thanksgiving. It is a HUMBLE thanks. I realise that it was MY SINS that killed Jesus.
If I come with humble thanks to this service, then I leave with a renewed zeal and determination. Determined not to let the sins of the past return to my life – But also a zeal that makes me want to go out and draw others to hear of this wonderful Jesus.
But there’s more still. I have renewed within me at this service the Christian hope. Eating with Jesus in His Father’s Kingdom.
The essence of this supper is a thing which the theologians would call the atonement. This means AT-ONE-MENT. We who are far away from God are brought so near to Him as to be AT-ONE with our Maker.
We sometimes wonder what is wrong with people – what is wrong with our world – and the simple explanation is that people are FAR AWAY from God – and Jesus came to bring us BACK to God that we might be at ONE with Him
This Supper is the celebration meal, then, of those who have discovered this great AT-ONE-MENT — let us come before God’s throne now HUMBLY – THANKFULLY – DETERMINED to be more like Jesus – EXPECTANTLY as we await the Lord’s return.
Hymn When I survey the Wondrous Cross
When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the prince of glory died,
my richest gain I count as loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
save in the death of Christ my God:
the very things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.
See from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down:
when did such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were an offering far too small;
love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all!