The Risen Lord Jesus Is Our Strength and Our Song, for He Has Become Our Salvation
Behold the Lamb of God, Who Takes Away the Sin of the World
Let Us Love One Another, as Christ Has Loved Us and Loves Us to the End
I understand Easter. I understand Good Friday. I mean, pretty much. Maundy Thursday? Not so much, but last Thursday’s sermon by Pastor Sattler helped make sense of The Last Supper, why it is important and how we should view it.
The word maundy comes from the Latin mandatum for ‘commandment’. The English word mandate means command or order. It can also be used in reference to the foot washing ceremony Jesus performed for His disciples (minus Judas- he had already left to do Satan’s bidding). After Jesus led The Last Supper and washed the feet he said,
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
This commandment can be filtered down to one word:
“love and forgiveness”
Keep this in mind – when you love, you will forgive; when you have forgiven, you have loved.
.So what is The Last Supper all about? Jesus used easily recognized rituals from the past to teach new principles to His followers. He used The Passover meal to explain what future communion meals would look like. In the Old Testament, God instituted the passover meal for the Hebrews so they would remember who was responsible for their exodus from Egypt (hint-it was God). The Old Testament passover was used to celebrate and remember Israel’s freedom from their slavery to the Egyptians. The New Testament communion is used to celebrate and remember a Christian’s freedom from our slavery to sin. In each case the plague of death passed/passes over them/us on that Day of Judgment.
.Whether it is an OT or NT meal, two things are noteworthy. Each celebrates a defining moment in the history of God’s people. Each honors the gathering of God’s people. Humans go out to dinner to celebrate special occasions such as anniversaries, birthdays, business successes, funerals, etal. Many times these include more than just the persons the celebration is intended for. Close friends, family members, business partners and others gather to eat, drink, to pat themselves on the back or grieve over the loss of another.
.The Communion meal celebrates Jesus offering Himself as a sacrificial lamb, cast out from the city (Jerusalem) to a deserted place (Golgotha) where he later bore the sins of the world entire upon Himself for the sake of others. This parallels the Hebrew custom of sacrificing two goats, one killed on the altar, its blood sprinkled over the Mercy Seat (the lid of the Ark of the Covenant), enough so that when God looked down He saw only blood but not the sins it was covering, the sins then being forgiven. The other goat was heaped with those sins of the community upon its back and sent out to bear the load to a desolate place to be forgotten. Just as the two goats performed one sacrifice, Jesus also performed one sacrifice by being the ‘offering’ (the first goat) instead of us, and removing our sins for which atonement was made (the second goat).
.When Lutherans take communion, we drink wine which is also the blood of the glorified Christ, the body He assumed when he ascended into Heaven to sit at God’s right hand to rule all creation (that includes keeping planets in orbit and making stars shine). We eat unleavened bread which includes the flesh of His glorified body. I don’t know how this can be except to proffer what the Bible says,
.‘ Taking bread, he blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, given for you. Eat it in my memory.”
He did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant written in my blood, blood poured out for you.
.The key term here is ‘for you’. Everything Jesus does is for us and done by Him. This is important because what He does can’t be done by us. He has done the work. I don’t have to do anything more than to be reassured through the meal that Jesus has forgiven my sins one time, for all my past, my present, and my future, all paid for through His death. When Lutherans go up for Communion it is not to be forgiven but to remember what He has already done for us. When I confess my sins with the congregation it is not to be forgiven my sins but to repent in sorrow His needing to die for me in the first place. When the pastor announces my forgiveness it is not because I have accumulated sins since the previous Sunday’s service but to remind me I was already been forgiven back in the upper room.