Sermon from Thursday March 28th / Maundy Thursday
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / March 28th / Maundy Thursday in the Season of Lent, Luke 22:7-20.
Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.” They said to Him, “Where will you have us prepare it?” He 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 and 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?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished; prepare it there.” And they went and found it just as He had told them, and they prepared the Passover.
And when the hour came, He reclined at table, and the apostles with Him. And [Jesus] said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks He said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And 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.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. You stand at the kitchen counter, dinner cooking away, and you start to think, “Am I ready for the Meal?” you ask yourself, “Have I got everything ready?” you look at the table: Knives and forks (Check), cups and plates (Check), salt and pepper shakers (Check), Butter (Check), butter knife (Check), bread (Check), and wine (Check). How do you prepare the table? If it’s a regular evening do you do things one way and then if it’s a special occasion do you do it another way? Do you dress different for one meal than you might for another, does the location make a difference to you? Do you do anything to prepare yourself for the meal? Extra washing, a closer shave, special perfume, the right neck tie, extra ironing, or are there times when you do less, times when you wear flip-flops, jeans, baseball cap?
Jesus arrived to great fan-fair in part because the people had heard of His recent raising of Lazarus from the dead. People had lots of questions for Jesus and while He taught in the temple leading up to Thursday evening people came out of the woodwork to ask their questions: And all these were asked as everyone was setting the table for the Passover meal, as they were squaring things up for the big annual meal of remembrance of God’s mighty works to rescue them from slavery in Egypt.
1) While He preached the Chief Priests, the Scribes and the
Elders asked, “Tell us by what authority you do these things,
or who gave you this authority,”
2) ... and then they sent spies who pretended to be sincere and
asked Jesus, “Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar?”
3) Then the Sadducees came and they asked Jesus about the
resurrection with a convoluted hypothetical question.
4) Then when Jesus started to talk about the end of the world,
His disciples and the others there asked Him “Teacher, when
will these things be, and what will be the sign of when these
things are about to take place?”
St. John who was there that night wrote these familiar words, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Confession of sins is part of the preparation. If you don’t believe you’re a sinner what then? The meal is for forgiveness. If you have no faith in Jesus, what then? Jesus is the one who forgives in the meal. If we receive the meal, and have no honesty about our need for forgiveness; if we take the meal, and have no faith in Jesus: then what? St Paul says that to take the meal without recognizing Christ Jesus in it, to take the meal without examining yourself, to take the meal and not proclaim Jesus’ death on the cross: is to take it unworthily and to be judged accordingly. In Galatians Paul reminds us that when it comes to God, God is not mocked.
When it comes to sin the Scriptures also teach that, “Whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” Knowing that Scripture teaches this, let us ask this question: “Is this question asked by the disciples a good question for us to ask ourselves as we too prepare for the Lord’s Supper this night?” Are we different than them? Are we the same?
They all ask it, this question: “Is it I, Lord?” Even Judas asks it, he asks it even though he knows the answer: Judas knows that on that evening he would betray Jesus. We think of this tonight, we also remember how Peter betrayed Jesus by denying Him, and how all the disciples ended up running away when Jesus was arrested while He prayed in the garden following the Supper. Each one of them had sinned and each one had betrayed Jesus in that sin and that night at the supper once everything was ready and they were all reclining at the table together, there in that place, in the upper room with Jesus, they were one: one huge rebellious man sitting with one righteous and sinless man.
Luke’s Gospel from this evenings Gospel reading starts with the preparation, Luke says “Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.” In that upper room, at the first Lord’s Supper, Matthew records that Jesus blessed the bread and said “Take and Eat” Jesus held up the cup and said “Drink of it, all of you” and in doing so Jesus points to the past, He points to the future, He bring the future and the past into the present. In a way He brings Adam and Eve, Abraham and Isaac, Jacob and his twelve sons and their tribes and everyone in the old covenant into that upper room: At the same time and in the same sort of way Jesus pulls Paul and the Early Church Fathers and you and me and everyone in the new covenant in His Blood into that same upper room. And we all sit there together at the meal the sinners with the Sinless One, the Forgiver with the forgiven. Yet we don’t physically travel there, we don’t even spiritually travel there, because we can’t, the way Jesus connects us to the meal and brings us into that upper room with the disciples is by coming to us. Jesus makes the trip that we can’t make, He comes to you in the Meal and He ties us all together in His Body with the same meal and with our faith in Him. Though we may be counted as many, we “are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”
“Is it I, Lord?” the disciples ask? We ask, “Is it I, Lord?” We each come to the communion rail knowing that we have betrayed God, broken His commandments, we have denied Jesus, and we’ve run away from Him. We come to the rail as prodigal daughters, prodigal sons. We come seeking God’s mercy and He’s there like the father in the parable. We come seeking Jesus and His forgiveness and He’s there (like He promised) with the bread and the wine. We seek to be one with Jesus and He does this for us. All of this is not our doing, we don’t makes it so, it is Jesus’ doing that does. He makes satisfaction for our sin; He dies in our place (the true Passover Lamb). For all our seeking of Him, it is Him who sought you out; it is Him who came to save you. At the cross Jesus draws you to Himself. The final preparation for your part in the Lord’s Supper happened at the cross on the Friday following that Thursday Passover Meal: Because He, the Passover Lamb, died and His Blood is now on you; Because of this you shall live and Have Life to the Full: The Angel of Death, on the day of Resurrection, will Pass Over you and you will live eternally. This Supper we share is for the forgiveness of sins and for the strengthening of your soul unto that very life, that life everlasting.
On the first Passover it was the beams of the doors awash in the blood of the Lamb, that first Holy Week it was the beams of the cross awash in the Blood of Jesus the Christ. Following the Passover Meal, while Jesus prayed in the Garden, expecting Judas to arrive any moment to arrest Him, Jesus prays to the Father: In that prayer He’s still preparing the Meal you will receive in His Supper this night, as He prays Jesus asks, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” The answer was no, the True Passover was ready; the Passover Lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus, that precious Lamb of God, Knows, Trusts and Obeys God’s will perfectly.
He looks over the table one last time, and as Judas kisses Him on the cheek, as the temple guard manhandle Him away, As the Roman soldiers beat and mock Him, as they take Him to the place of Crucifixion Jesus gives His Body for you: less than twenty four hours before, “[Jesus] 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.”
You stand at the Communion Rail, about to kneel, and you start to think, “Am I ready for the Meal?” you ask yourself, “Have I got everything ready?” Jesus says to you, ‘I have made you ready; I have gotten everything ready for you.’ Jesus prepares you to receive this meal worthily; He answers your questions in His word, He forgives you your sins at the table, He comes to you here and bidding you to depart in His joy and peace, and He reminds you of His love in this special Meal: It is His body. It is His blood. Eat and drink today, dear Christians, for the forgiveness of Given for you, poured out for you. Amen.
Let us pray: Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Exodus 12-14
 Luke 20:2
 Luke 20:22
 Luke 20:27-33
 Luke 21:7
 Matthew 26:20-25,
 1 John 1:5-9
 1 Corinthians 11:26-32
 Galatians 6:7
 James 2:10-13
 John 1:29
 Matthew 26:26-28
 Romans 12:5
 Jesus says, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32 ESV)
 Matthew 26:39