Video - Maundy Thursday
Rev. Charles Westby, Pastor
Exodus 12:1-14, Exodus 24:1-11, Matthew 26:26-29, Revelation 19:6-9
April 09, 2020

Festival, Eating, and Community in Jesus

I bet when the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas come around, many of you have a great feast. You prepare food. You prepare the table. You regard it as a time for gathering of family and friends. This makes it a gathering of a certain community for you. You sit at table and eat. Special occasion, food, and community. We actually know about these things quite well in our culture.

This sort of thing is also integral to our Christian faith as a community of Christians. It always has been and always will be. A special feast, a special eating and drinking, instituted by God on the occasion of God’s mighty acts of deliverance, has always been integral to Biblical Faith.

It started with the deliverance of the People of Israel from slavery in Egypt. On the night before God led them out of Egypt, they were to sacrifice the Passover lamb. They were to take the blood of the lamb and paint it onto the header and posts of the frame of the front door to their houses (Exodus 12:7). The Lord instructed them to do this because He was going to come to the land of Egypt and kill the firstborn of both man and animal (Exodus 12:12). But if the Lord would see the blood on the doorframe of a house, then the firstborn in that house would be spared (Exodus 12:13). Thus, the firstborn of the people of Israel would be spared because they had this promise. As they believed this promise of deliverance and applied the blood as God had instructed them, they were saved.

In connection with this, the Lord instructed them to roast the lamb in fire and to eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs (Exodus 12:8).

This Passover feast was established by God’s command for the people of Israel as a memorial of this great deliverance. It was intended by God to be a day of deep faith-filled, reverent, solemn remembering of how God saved His people according to promise from Egyptian slavery by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.

God’s salvation and a memorial feast went together. And the feast involved eating the sacrifice by which God saved them from the judgment of death and brought them out of slavery.

A few days after this mighty deliverance from Egypt through the blood of the Passover lamb, God told Moses to bring Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy elders of the People of Israel up on Mount Sinai. They went up according to God’s command. There they saw the God of Israel. Under His feet was a pavement of sapphire stone, clear like heaven itself. In just what form God appeared to them on that Day is not explained to us. Nevertheless, God did not lay a hand on these representatives of the People of Israel. They beheld God and ate and drank in His presence (Exodus 24:9-11).

About 1400 years later, on that first Maundy Thursday of that first Holy Week, Jesus gathered with His twelve disciples. They gathered to eat the Passover, as good and faithful sons of Israel (Matthew 26:17-19). They gathered in faith in what God had done according to His promise in bringing the people of Israel out of Egypt.

But this was a special Passover because it was the last supper Jesus would have with His disciples. This was a special Passover, because the One who presided over it was Israel’s Lord and God come among them in the flesh as Messiah. The Son presided over this Passover meal.

This was a special Passover because the Passover lamb was not the young animal from either the sheep or the goats. No. The Passover Lamb is the Lamb that God Himself prepared, of whom John the Baptist proclaimed, when he saw Jesus passing by: “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” The Passover Jesus ate that day with His disciples was special because the ultimate Passover of God does not involve deliverance from the killing of the firstborn of man and animal. The ultimate Passover of God involves the turning away of His just wrath and eternal punishment against human sin and rebellion against God.

The next day, God’s Lamb, His Son, our Lord, took upon Himself God’s just judgment against sin and provided the way of escape from eternal condemnation. Jesus did this willingly, out of His deep and immense grace and love for you and me. For He wants us to find God’s forgiveness in His sacrifice. Jesus wants us to find eternal well-being with God in the forgiveness He accomplished.

So in the middle of this special Passover, on eve of God the Son’s sacrifice of Himself, the Son instituted another feast. This feast will also serve as memorial of the great salvation He will accomplish. This feast will also involve partaking in the sacrifice that wins the deliverance; a partaking of eating and drinking. This feast will also involve an eating and drinking in community, for Jesus did not institute this feast for Himself, but for Himself and His disciples in community gathered around Him; He Himself being very special Host and very special food.

And this feast goes on in this age by Christ’s omnipotent command among His people who hope in Him, where they are gathered as community in His Name; where He is present as He promised (Matthew 18:20); where He is Host, through His called servant; where He is also the food that sustains us until that Glorious Day. Here in Christ’s feast, He gives His true body to eat in the bread consecrated and sanctified by His words. He took bread, and blessed it and broke it and said: take eat this is my body, given for you. Here in Christ’s feast, He gives His true blood to drink in the wine that is consecrated and sanctified by His words. And after supper He took the cup, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them saying: Take and drink. This cup is the New Covenant in my blood, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

And then He gave us the command, like He gave to the people of Israel when He had brought them out of Egypt: “Do this in remembrance of Me.”

This meal is peace and pure joy and our Holy Place as Christians. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is life and salvation with God; peace and joy and eternal well-being. In the forgiveness of sins, there is fellowship with the Father and the Spirit in the Son forever. And in this fellowship with God in the Son, there is fellowship with all those who have gone before us in the faith, having fought the good fight, who now rest from their labors. There is also fellowship with all of those wonderful creatures, the angels, our mighty and wonderful friends, and the whole host and army of them. And so we partake here in Christ’s feast with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven, praising and magnifying together the glorious Name of our God, who lives and reigns forever and ever.

Christ’s feast is our Holy Place because it is the feast of the body and blood of God the Son, by whom all things were made, whether these things are all His wonderful creatures, or the powers and authorities of this created order. Christ’s feast is our Holy Place because it is the feast of the body and blood of the Son, that He gave in painful, awful, and torment-filled suffering on our behalf to set us free.

There is no Holier Place than that sanctified by the presence of God’s Son; sanctified by His own blood shed for sin under God’s just judgment. With God’s Word, there is no greater treasure you and I have on this earth than the body and blood of the Son, given to eat and to drink in the bread and wine in a deep and profound mystery. For He bore our sins in His body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24). His blood is shed for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28).

Jesus provides this holy Supper not to suggest cannibalism to us, for His body and blood, though truly present, are hidden in the bread and wine. In the way He has done this, however, giving His body and blood in bread and wine, He makes it possible for you to partake of the very means by which He won your deliverance from slavery to sin death and the devil in the sacrifice of Himself for you and all people.

This is pure gift for you. It is the embodiment of the Gospel. It is a most profound way that He delivers salvation to you; delivers Himself.

And now there is yet one more feast we need to point to. Jesus died and rose and established the feast of His body and blood so that you and I can partake in the great feast on the Great Day that is to come. Jesus pointed to this after He had finished instituting His feast of salvation on the night on which He was betrayed: “I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Mat. 26:29 ESV).

And when will that be? It will be at the end of this age. It will be when the Father has determined that the course of this world will come to an end. It will be when Jesus Himself returns in power and great glory and stands upon the earth once again as almighty King. On that Day Jesus will bring all of His people with Him and gather together all of His people who are on earth. He will gather them as His bride and He will prepare them for the marriage feast; the feast where He will drink the wine with us new in the Kingdom of our Father.

And we will hear the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters, like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out: Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready.” (Rev. 19:6-8 ESV).

What a glorious day that will be. It will be the day of the final deliverance. Sin will be no more. Death and sorrow will be destroyed. We will rise in indestructible life. The devil and all evil spirits will be no more. Being deceived and led astray into sin and despair will be no more. Wicked and violent human beings will no longer be a threat and a terror. There will no longer be disease and epidemic that causes us to be afraid. All earthly government will pass away. There will be nothing to hurt or to harm anymore. And we ourselves will rejoice in being once again conformed to the image of God in our nature, and filled with the joy and peace of eternal well-being in the life of God Himself.

Christ feeds us here in His special feast to sustain us in faith in Him until the wonderful day of the feast to come. What a profound gift and treasure Christ’s feast is for you here. What a gift it is to be able to partake of it in the gathering of His community; to eat His meal with Christians holding the same faith, having the same hope, rejoicing in the body given and blood shed of God the Son in human flesh appearing, and now given for us here to eat and to drink in His meal. And as we eat His meal here, we eat in anticipation of the Marriage feast of the Lamb with all God’s people of all time.

Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb on that day. You are called. May the Lord sustain you by His Word and Supper here until that Day. Amen.


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