July 24, 2012
INTRODUCTION – Last week we began our journey through chapters 26 & 27 of matthew which are focused on the suffering or the passion of Christ – culminating with His burial in the tomb of a man named Joseph. For various reasons the four gospel writers often did not all write about some of the things Jesus said and did, but when it comes to the Passion of Christ – – they all four wrote in great detail – – which tells us that we dare not make light of this crucial part of His life.
One cannot understand or know or follow Jesus Christ if he does not understand the significance of His suffering and death.
Latest 5 p’s from this passage: “Prudent pondering of the passion produces piety”
Our meditation this morning is all focused around the last Passover dinner Jesus observed with His 12 disciples. Let’s look first at the preparing of this meal.
I. Preparing for the Passover Meal VS. 17-19 A. The “feast of unleavened bread” = niv = 7 days; the Passover week as some call it lasted 8 days – the Passover being the first day, and the day the Passover lambs were sacrificed. In case you are not familiar with the Passover celebration it was a yearly event whose purpose was to remind the Jews of how God passed over their forefathers in Egypt when the last plague was carried out on the Egyptians and all their first born were killed. The angels that carried this plague out killed the first born in every home except those where the blood of a lamb was spread over their door posts. In essence the first born of the Hebrews were saved because of the blood of the Lamb. This was an obvious foreshadowing of the coming Messiah, who would be the Lamb that was slain for the sins of the world.
B. Luke tells us the two disciples Jesus sent were Peter and John. None of the gospel writers tell us exactly where this meal took place or whose house it was, but undoubtedly it was the home of someone who thought well of Jesus and would gladly offer his home for such an event.
C. Sometimes when we read these instructions from Jesus – we might wonder why He was so vague and secretive. Most likely Jesus was intentionally secretive about the person and address so Judas could not betray Jesus there and spoil Jesus’s intended time with His disciples
D. vs. 19 tells us the two disciples were obedient to carry out Jesus’s instructions, which isn’t a huge deal, but I do think it is instructive who Jesus sent and who He didn’t. I also think it is instructive for those of us seeking to make disciples for how often Jesus gave assignments to or delegated responsibilities to His disciples. Practice and walking out one’s faith must be coupled with growing in knowledge and understanding of doctrine and truth if there is to be healthy maturity.
II. Conversation during the Passover Meal VS. 20-25 A. So if you knew this was going to be your last Passover meal with your 12 disciples, who you have poured out your life for in the last 3 and ½ years, would you start it out this way? Not sure I would. So why did He? Why sour the atmosphere of this last meal together before His arrest, and subsequent sufferings with this startling and terribly depressing proclamation?
B. Well let me suggest a couple of possible reasons: 1. I believe Jesus wanted to give Judas every chance to repent. Jesus knew He had to be crucified and He was ready to submit to that. But He didn’t want Judas to pay for the rest of eternity for being the one who expedited it. Clearly from the latter part of vs. 24, the consequences for Judas’s betrayal were horrible 2. I believe He was trying to prepare the hearts of His disciples for the discovery that one of their companions and fellow disciples was a traitor and betrayer of their beloved Master. Had Judas been a rebel and loner from the very beginning, then it might not have phased them. But it doesn’t appear that is how he conducted himself in his 3+ years following Jesus and relating to the other disciples.
C. What I find intriguing about this short discussion is no one seemed to have a clue who Jesus could be talking of (except Judas of course). How was it that no one suspected Judas? You would think after walking so closely with him for 3 and a half years it would have been obvious. Well Judas might have been closer to Jesus and the other disciples than we’ve given him credit for. One of my many books on the passion or suffering of Christ in my office is written by Michael Card the singer and songwriter, who in my mind is surely one of the most biblically grounded and spiritually mature Christian songwriters and singers in my lifetime. Here’s what he has to say about Judas and his standing with Jesus. (p. 40).
I don’t want to spend too much time on this; but this all begs the question – – what happened to Judas? How could he have been so close to Jesus all these years, seen all that He had seen, experienced all that he had experienced and then turned around and betrayed His Master to the hard hearted murderous elders and chief priests?
Well there are several theories out there. But the one that makes the most sense biblically to me is his love for money. We saw last week in vs. 14 of this chapter that Judas went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you? And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him.” We know from John’s account of the lady who anointed Jesus with the expensive perfume that Judas had a habit of pilfering or stealing from the offering box that funded Jesus’s ministry travels. If Jesus is insistent on suffering and dying an early death, then why not capitalize on it? Seems hard to imagine that Judas could think this way. But Paul said to Timothy that “the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil.” The history of God’s people throughout the ages shows many examples of the destruction and tragedy that followed this sordid obsession with money..
For money Joseph was sold by his brothers. For money Samson was betrayed by his wife to the Philistines. For money Gehazi deceived Naaman, and lied to Elisha. For money the rich young ruler turned back from following Jesus. For money Ananias and Sapphira tried to deceive Peter and their brothers and sisters in the church in Jerusalem.
Listen – there is money to be made in the world of religious practice – – wherever the kingdom of God is flourishing – there will be money – – and for those who have never truly bowed the knee to Jesus as Lord and begun to know Him as the one who owns it all and controls it all and disburses it all out of a good and generous heart – – the temptation to try to get it for themselves their own way – – will always be there. By the way, the gospel writers give us a number of accounts where Judas addressed Jesus Christ throughout His earthly ministry and not once did Judas address Him as Lord, unlike some of the other disciples.
D. The final thing I just want to touch on in this passage is that while Judas was fully responsible for and paid dearly for his betrayal of Jesus, this didn’t catch Jesus by surprise. As we saw last week many times in His 3 and a half years with the disciples He tried to prepare them for His coming suffering and death.
III. The Lord’s Supper during the Passover Meal VS. 26-30 A. This is not an option or suggestion for disciples. It is a command (vs. 26, 27)
B. The controversy of whether literally His body and blood. (vs. 26 & 28) Catholics believe when we observe communion the bread is the literal body of Christ and the wine or juice is His blood – that is – when we partake of communion we are somehow partaking of His very body and blood. Obviously that wasn’t true when He was having this first communion with His disciples for His body was a real human body and had normal human limitations; and His blood had not been shed yet. For a lot of reasons it just seems to make better sense that Jesus was saying that these elements represent or signify His body and blood. The danger though then becomes just going through a ritual or religious motion. Of course you can believe it is His literal blood and body and still go through the motions, which some of you did many times – growing up in the Catholic church. Heb. 11:6 Without an expectation that since God ordained this that He is vitally invested in it and present in it, and ministers His Spirit through it,….it will be nothing more than a meaningless religious ritual.
C. The blending in of prayer and worship with the meal (vs. 26, 27, 30)
D. The purpose of Jesus’s shed blood from His own lips (vs. 28) (not an example of sacrifice for others to model) rather – for forgiveness of sins
E. Significance of the “covenant”. Luke adds “new”. Prophesied by old t. prophets. Basically an agreement or relationship established by God that makes a way for us to know and walk with Him without condemnation or fear of banishment. It is absolutely dependent upon the shed blood of Jesus for there is no other way that sinners who were born in sin and who have acted it out a million times in word, thought and deed can be made right with and acceptable in the sight of God apart from some blood sacrifice that He deems acceptable.
F. Purpose of this practice being continued to the present day: Matthew account seems to be only for the disciples; Appears in 3 of the 4 gospels = here; mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:17-20; and then in I Cor. 11:23-25. In luke 22:19 “do this in remembrance of Me”; I Cor. 11:25, 26 “do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”
Purpose is to remember Him and what He has done for us and what He has gone through for us and why it was absolutely necessary for Him to suffer like He did.
CONCLUSION – COMMUNION