Pastoral Ministry
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The Lord's Supper
Matthew 26:17-30 


Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?" [18] And He said, "Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, 'The Teacher says, "My time is at hand; I am to keep the Passover at your house with My disciples." ' " [19] And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover. 

[20] Now when evening had come, He was reclining at the table with the twelve disciples. [21] And as they were eating, He said, "Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me." [22] And being deeply grieved, they each one began to say to Him, "Surely not I, Lord?" [23] And He answered and said, "He who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl is the one who will betray Me. [24] "The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born." [25] And Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, "Surely it is not I, Rabbi?" He said to him, "You have said it yourself." 

[26] And while they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is My body." [27] And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you; [28] for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. [29] "But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom." 

[30] And after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 

In the midst of their meal, Jesus took some unleavened bread and held it up, and said, "Take, eat; this is My body." In the Passover meal, the bread had a particular significance. When the Hebrew women made their household bread, they took a piece of fermented dough they saved from a previous day and mixed it into their fresh flour. With time, the yeast would overtake the dough and she could then make her family's daily bread. (After saving a piece for future baking, of course.) When God delivered the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage, there wasn't time to bake bread or hassle with yeast. They ate their bread unleavened.

Eating unleavened bread became a reminder of the time when God delivered the children of Israel out of bondage. In Exodus 13:8-9, God gives meaning to the unleavened bread, He said, "And you shall tell your son on that day, saying, 'It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.' [9] "And it shall serve as a sign to you on your hand, and as a reminder on your forehead, that the law of the Lord may be in your mouth; for with a powerful hand the Lord brought you out of Egypt."

At the Lord's Supper, the bread that celebrated the people's deliverance from Egyptian bondage took on a new meaning. Now it commemorates Jesus' broken body and celebrates the Christian's deliverance from eternal bondage. Because of Jesus' death on the cross and resurrection from the tomb, eternal life is possible to all who believe. 

Then, the scripture says, "And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you; [28] for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins" (Matthew 26:27-28)

When Jesus handed the cup to the disciples, they naturally would have thought of the blood of the lamb smeared on the doorpost of their ancestors' homes in Egypt. In preparation for the tenth plague, God instructed the children of Israel to put the blood of the Passover lamb

on the two doorposts and on the lentel of the house. God made a covenant with the people: when the death angel saw the blood on the doorposts, it would "pass over" that house and not kill the first born son. But if a house did not have the blood on the doorposts and lentel, the death angel would visit their home and kill their first born son. The Lord said, "And the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt." (Exodus 12:13 NASB)

As the disciples drank the wine, they remembered the blood covenant. But Jesus reinterpreted the wine to symbolize a new covenant. In the Lord's Supper, Jesus' blood now symbolizes more then salvation from a single night of terror, instead, it celebrates eternal salvation. As Peter wrote in 1 Peter 1:18-19 "knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, [19] but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ."

Today, we celebrate the Lord's Supper. As we take the bread, we commemorate Jesus' broken body and celebrate our deliverance from eternal bondage. And then as we take of the fruit of the vine, we celebrate eternal salvation.

But before we do that, I want us to look at the conversation that preceded the first Lord's Supper. Reclining around the Passover table, the conversation turned to a dark topic. "One of you," Jesus said, "will betray me." In an instant, the mood changed from celebration to deep mourning. One by one, the disciples questioned the Lord, "Surely not I, Lord?" When it came Judas' turn to ask, he said, "Surely it is not I, Rabbi?" Notice the subtle change in the question. The other disciples referred to Jesus as Lord, while Judas referred to Him as Rabbi. A disciple is less likely to betray his Lord than his teacher. Jesus is much more than a good teacher-He is Lord! A distinction many religious people still miss.

On July 06, 2000, Hugh Downs the guest host on the Larry King Live Show lead a round table discussion on the questions, "Who is Jesus? And why is there such a fascination with that question now?" Among his guests was Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Dean of Oxford L'chaim Society. During the discussion, Boteach said, "Jesus was a great teacher, a very ethical, moral, human being -- perhaps in our opinion, not a prophet, but certainly a phenomenal teacher and Christianity is a great world religion . . .and while I agree he is a great light, once we say he is the only light, this is what leads to all kinds of spiritual racism and a division between Jews and Christians." (Fresh Illustrations, .)

Describing Himself, Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me." (John 14:6 NASB) Jesus didn't describe himself as a "great teacher, a very ethical, moral, human being." He did not say He was a way or a truth or a life. With all due respect to Rabbi Boteach's religious beliefs, if he ever comes to the Father it will be through Jesus-the only light, it will not be by any other path. 

Frankly, I don't believe Rabbi Boteach when he speaks highly of Jesus and Christianity. If he really thought Jesus was a great teacher, wouldn't he follow His teaching? How can he call Jesus ethical and moral and accuse His followers of being spiritual racists for teaching what He taught? Rabbi Boteach, concluded that Jesus is ethical and moral and a good teacher. How can he do that. If Jesus is not the way, the truth and the life, as He said He is, then He is a liar. A liar is neither ethical nor moral. 

Judas made the mistake of following Jesus as his teacher, but missed following Him as his Lord. The result of that mistake is infamous. Don't you make that same mistake today.

Paul warns us to examine ourselves before taking the Lord's Supper. In 1 Cor. 11:28-29 he wrote, "But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. [29] For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself, if he does not judge the body rightly."

Is Jesus your Lord? Or do you see Him as a light, but not the light? You can know Him today.

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