Sermon / Pr. Ted Giese / Ash Wednesday Feb 10th 2016 - / Luke 22:1-13 / A Place at the Table
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / Luke 22:1-13 / Ash Wednesday - A Place at the Table
Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put [Jesus] to death, for they feared the people.
Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray [Jesus] to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd.
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.
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. "This Lent, we will gather for a season to reflect on the places of the Passion ... It’s a simple story, and you’ve been to these places before. The Upper Room, the Garden of Gethsemane, the halls of Pontius Pilate, the hills of Golgotha—these are the places we remember when we meditate on our Lord’s Passion. Yet when Jesus enters a place, He never leaves it as He finds it. The most troubling places in our lives become the most amazing places of God’s grace when Jesus visits them.
We will see tonight and every night [at our Wednesday night Services] that no matter where we are in our lives, God is still coming and claiming us as His children. God is still coming, preparing a place at His table for you."
The Table tonight is threefold: 1) in our Old Testament and Gospel Readings it is the Passover Table 2) This Passover Table as Jesus comes to it becomes our Altar and the Communion Rail 3) Our Altar and Communion Rail as the Resurrected and Ascended Jesus comes to them in Holy Communion become a foretaste of the Eternal Heavenly Feast to come. Our Altar and Communion Rail then stand as the crossroads between the past and the future. It is a place where we can contemplate and experience how "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."
In 46 Days it'll be Easter Morning. As a Season Lent is 40 days long, not counting the 6 Sundays leading up to Easter Morning, the Sundays are like little Easters each week even during Lent. That number of 40 comes up over and over again in Scripture. Notably it comes up as the number of years the Israelites spent in the wilderness after the first Passover and their rescue form Egyptian Slavery. Connected to that time in the wilderness is Jesus' forty day and nights in the wilderness following His baptism. While fasting in the wilderness Jesus was tempted by Satan, yet Jesus never caved in to the temptations of the Devil and as the account concludes we hear these words recorded by St. Luke, "when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from [Jesus] until an opportune time."
In our Gospel Lesson tonight that opportune time has arrived, St. Luke tells us that as, "the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover ... the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put [Jesus] to death, for they feared the people. Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. [And Judas] went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray [Jesus] to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give [Judas] money. So [Judas] consented and sought an opportunity to betray [Jesus] to them in the absence of a crowd."
Now each and every person who comes to Holy Communion comes with Sins that need to be forgiven. The Blood of the Passover lamb was spread on the doorposts as a sign of faith that the Angle of the Lord would pass over the sinners living in the house, that death would not touch the first born children living there - this is what the Old Testament Lesson teaches us, that it was a mark of the immanent Salvation of the Israelites. Judas along with the rest of the twelve would all come to the Passover Table as sinners, Jesus was the only one without sin at the table - just as Jesus today is the only one who comes to our Table this night without sin. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The blood of the Lamb is now received by us in the Supper and His righteous, sinless Blood covers the doorposts of our heart, imprinting the image of Jesus on us in the eyes of our Heavenly Father. Delivering to you and I forgiveness here in this place.
Having sins that you need forgiveness for doesn't keep you from the table. However if there is some sin that you are committing and you don't want to do better, if you are not repentant, if you want the world to approve of your conduct, if that approval is more important to you than abiding in Jesus, as challenging as that might be, then as Saint Paul says to you, "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself."
Essentially if you think you know better what is good for you than what God has laid out in His law -be careful you are in a dangerous place; If you think you are following God's law perfectly and don't need forgiveness really, if you think you only come to the table because you are commanded to by Jesus as an ordinance- "Do this in Remembrance of Me,"-be careful you are in a dangerous place, and you may even be at risk of improperly discerning the body of Christ and then like Saint Paul say, then you are drinking judgment on yourself. Come therefore, "before God [at this table with a contrite heart pleading] guilty of all sins, even those [you] are not aware of, [just] as we do in the Lord’s Prayer," when we pray "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."
The Small Catechism asks us to, "Consider [our] place in life according to the Ten Commandments: Are you a father, mother, son, daughter, husband, wife, or worker? Have you been disobedient, unfaithful, or lazy? Have you been hot-tempered, rude, or quarrelsome? Have you hurt someone by your words or deeds? Have you stolen, been negligent, wasted anything, or done any harm?" What are the things you need forgiveness for are there any particular things that are problematic in your life?
Judas apparently had problems with money, he was tempted to break the 7th Commandment "you shall not steal," Satan used Judas' greed to seal the deal of betraying Jesus to the chief priests. In addition to what we hear in the Gospel of Luke St. John further fills in the story of Judas' greed telling us that, "Six days before the Passover [that's six days before the events of tonight's Gospel reading from the Gospel of St. Luke], Jesus [went] to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for [Jesus] there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with Him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of [Jesus'] disciples (he who was about to betray [Jesus]), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” [Judas] said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it."
At the beginning of the sermon I said that, "when Jesus enters a place, He never leaves it as He finds it. The most troubling places in our lives become the most amazing places of God’s grace when Jesus visits them." During this season of Lent, leading up to Easter, check the inventory of your heart, go through the storerooms, look in every nook and cranny, leave no place unconsidered. Sin that is unchecked, unaccounted for, can lead to trouble, lead to death. Jesus comes to you in His meal, in His Supper, and as He arrives He enters into every nook and cranny, He leaves no place unconsidered for as St. Paul says in Ephesians the Resurrected and Ascended Jesus, "fills all things," there is no spot that you can keep Him from. In your mortal weakness yield to Jesus be honest with Him about your condition and ask for forgiveness, strive to do better.
Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return ... but also remember that Jesus who knew no sin became sin for you and in death He became dust for you - His resurrection is now your resurrection. What does His word say? In Ecclesiastes we hear how, "the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it." Jesus in His ascension returned to the Father and you will too, and while in this life you are dust on the last day you will be raised up no longer dust but made perfect, as St. Paul says, "So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable." While you are sown in dust you will be raised up by Jesus, "who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself."
On That Day, when you take your eternal place at the Table, at the Table of the Wedding Feats of the Lamb, you will no longer be dust and you will never return to dust again. "At the Lord’s Supper this evening, Jesus prepares a place for you to be forgiven by His love. When Jesus is the Lord of the table, there is no need for fear, for Jesus prepares a place at His table for you." Just as He is preparing a place at the Eternal Table for you, for the Last Day. Each of the Places Jesus went to in the time of His passion were places He went in order to prepare a place for you, The Upper Room, the Garden of Gethsemane, the halls of Pontius Pilate, the hills of Golgotha were He shed His Blood.
What about the place which is your heart? Jesus will not avoid that place, He will not avoid your heart, His Blood is on your hearts doorposts, you don't need to invite Him in - in Your Baptism He is already there, in His preached Word He is already there, by the time you run to fling open the doors He greats you with His forgiveness on the inside of the door. This is your Jesus. 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 Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Places of the Passion, Introduction to the Service and Sermon for Ash Wednesday by Rev. Dr. David R. Schmitt, Concordia Publishing House 2015.
 Hebrews 13:8
 Luke 4:13
 1 Corinthians 11:27-29
 John 12:1-6
 Ephesians 1:23
 Ecclesiastes 12:7
 1 Corinthians 15:42
 Philippians 3:21
 Places of the Passion, Outline Notes for Ash Wednesday by Rev. Dr. David R. Schmitt, Concordia Publishing House 2015.