Let us pray: Dear Savior, tonight as we recall Your final supper with Your disciples, fill us with a sense of awe and wonder. Yes, fill us with the truth that You chose to come to us and dwell within us hidden under bread and wine. All this so that we could be comforted and assured that truly our sins are forgiven. Yes, through Your supper take away any doubts we might have as to Your love for us. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, WHO HONORS US WITH HIS FORGIVING PRSENCE!
TEXT: Matthew 26: 26-30
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Our Lenten theme has been: Behold the Hidden Glory of the Cross. And over the past 40 days one striking theme has re-occurred. It is that the more humble, simple, and lowly the words and works of Christ, the more glorious and powerful they really are. The same holds true for the Holy Supper. Listen to the words you have heard hundreds of times and behold their splendor:
“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to the disciples saying, ‘Take eat; this is my body.’ Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, ‘Drink for it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.’ When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”
Yes, tonight we shall consider His hidden glory in holy communion. For this text clearly shows that:
IT IS HIDDEN IN THE SAVIOR’S FEAST
Could anything have been more simple? Jesus and the disciples were in a borrowed room—probably belonging to John’s family. They had come to celebrate the Passover—recalling Israel’s exodus from Egypt by God’s gracious hand. They were recalling the glory of God’s angel of death in passing over their ancestor’s houses and afflicting the Egyptians instead. The blood of the Lamb had saved the Israelites. And now, tonight, that same blood would save them!
Passover for them was kind of like Easter or Christmas for us. It was the highpoint of their calendar year. But this Passover was unique. There was no fanfare or fuss. Just the simple meal after which Christ did some rather amazing things. As they were arguing about which disciple was the greatest, Jesus set about washing their feet—becoming their slave. Amazing! And then He began to speak of His upcoming death. Some celebration, huh? The disciples are mystified by all this. Here they are celebrating Israel’s past glory, and Christ changes the topic to a bloody future.
Then with no fanfare or fuss, Jesus creates a new feast, a new celebration. He takes simple bread and simple wine, consecrates it with His word of loving promise, and gives it to them (that’s the breaking part—He broke it off and handed it out to them) saying something quite profound in the process.—“This is my body, this is my blood.” He doesn’t over-explain His words. In fact, He doesn’t explain them at all! He simply says so. And then He adds, as they drink the cup: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” He didn’t say: “Worship this cup.” Or, “Adore the bread.”—As the Roman Catholic church teaches and does even today. No, He simply says: “Take and eat and drink.”
In this simplicity it is easy to miss the glory. But it is there! For here is the true Passover Lamb slain for sinners. Here is true forgiveness from God’s Son. Here is food for immortality, which no angel of death can subtract from. Here is Christ, God’s Son, living and dwelling in, with, and under bread and wine and thereby in and with us poor sinners. Has communion become an afterthought to you? Do you take it for granted? Is Maundy Thursday communion just a ritual? If so, then focus on Christ’s own words: “Given for you for the forgiveness of sins.”
Here’s something to think about. Christ had no one to leave His assets to. He had no stocks or bonds. He had no property. He had no family silver or china. Even His good name would soon be mud in the eyes of most. And yet, on the eve of His death, knowing it would soon come, He bequeaths His humble followers with the most precious gift on earth—His very body and blood for the forgiveness of sins. We know that to be true because He says so. He says: “Given for you!” Yes, you and I are the legal beneficiaries of His grace.
Look at this feast and listen to His words. See His glory. “This is my body and my blood.” We do not eat a mere symbol of Christ’s goodness. No, it’s all real. It’s supernatural. The true, living Son of God chose to join Himself with bread and wine to comfort, uplift, and save our souls.
On the cross Christ said: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?” Yes, Jesus was forsaken by God in our place so that we don’t have to be! But, but, God’s Son doesn’t forsake us! And right here He proves it by giving us to eat and drink of His body and blood. Yes, when the crowd shouted: “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross!”—Christ ignored them. He didn’t come down because there was no need. For right here, the night before He had given His children an eternal legacy of His gracious presence.—All this glory hidden under simple bread and wine.
The ancient church fathers called the Lord’s Supper “the medicine of immortality.” They were right. For here the living Bread from heaven promises to come to us in holy communion.
The world scoffs at holy communion. Many Christians dismiss it as merely some sort of emotional remembrance of Christ. But in doing so, they deprive themselves of its glory! For in the Lord’s Supper Christ comes to you in just as real a form as the Baby lying the manger. He comes to you in just as real a form as the body hung of the cross and the resurrected body that shed the grave. Why can I say that? Because that’s what “This is my body and blood” mean. Yes, Christ is the Word of God made flesh. And tonight He comes to you incarnate—in body form, hidden from our senses, yet divinely real—the forgiveness of your sins. Behold His hidden glory! Amen