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Sermons

Eagerly Celebrate This Feast

Mar 29, 2018

Passage: Mark 14:12-26

Preacher: Pastor Degner

Detail:

The disciples were eager to celebrate the Passover. It was, after all, the high point in Israel’s year – a celebration to remember how 1500 years ago, through the blood of a lamb, God had saved Israel from death and set them free from their slavery. All Jerusalem was busy getting ready for it – slaughtering the lamb, painting its blood on their doorframes, preparing the meal. The disciples were eager to do the same.
And so was Jesus. Did you notice, when they asked Jesus where they should make preparations, Jesus had already begun? He had the exact place in mind. Jesus, too, was eager to celebrate Passover that night. But he was eager for another reason: There he would prepare a wonderful new meal for them.
It’s the same wonderful meal Jesus has prepared for you on this night. And he’s eager to share it with you. Are you eager to receive it? It can happen, can’t it, that we lose sight of how wonderful this meal is and how much we need it? It can become just another thing we do at church. Instead of longing for it, it catches us by surprise: “Oh, it’s a communion Sunday,” or we don’t mind missing it from time to time.
So it’d be good for us tonight to remember how wonderful it is, and how much we need it. And to do that, look no further than the first guests invited to the meal. They were so self-involved that night that while Jesus speaks of his suffering and death, they’re busy arguing about who’s the greatest. Later this night, when he’s arrested, they all abandon Jesus. See how bad they are – Jesus says, “One of you will betray me.” And they all realize they’re capable of it! “It’s not me…or is it?”
But are these guests any different? Don’t our homes often look like that upper room – a clash of egos, everybody out to get their own way? Aren’t we the ones who stand with Jesus when it’s easy and convenient, but abandon his ways when they aren’t? Aren’t we the ones with sinful natures so bad that, given the right circumstances, we’re capable of any and every sin?
It almost makes you wonder if Jesus messed up with the guest list. But he didn’t! He prepared this meal for them, for you. Isn’t it amazing? In spite of how bad we are, he loves us and wants to fellowship with us here? In spite of our sins, he’s prepared this wonderful meal for us? Really because of them, because it’s here he gives us what we need most, God’s solution to our sinfulness: Himself. Our Passover Lamb.
It must have caught the disciples off guard when, in the midst of Passover ritual, Jesus does something completely new and different: Takes bread, gives thanks, gives it to them, says: “Take it; this is my body.” Takes the wine, gives it to them: “This is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many.” And if they didn’t fully grasp it then, they did later, and by God’s grace, we do now: Jesus is the Passover Lamb. 20 hours later, he’d be sacrificed. His body would carry our sins to the cross. His blood would be shed to pay for them all. He’d die the death we deserve, and because of it, death passes over us and we are free.
The night before he died, Jesus gave them a new meal – his body with the bread, his blood with the wine – as a guarantee he would do all that for them. Tonight, he invites you to the same meal, as a guarantee that he has, a meal that gives you all he won for you.
Isn’t it wonderful? For all the reasons we give him not to love us, Jesus says to you tonight, “Come and taste and see that I love you still. Take it,” he says to you. “This is my body. The same one that carried your guilt to the cross, I give you tonight to set you free from your guilt. The same one I gave into death to win you life in me, I give to you tonight to keep you alive in me.” For all the sins you’ve committed, he gives you the cup and says, “This is my blood of the covenant poured out for many, and that includes you. The same blood I shed so that God would forget your sins, I give to you tonight to assure you he still does. Come,” he says. “Fellowship with me here, and get a foretaste of the feast to come.”
That, too, Jesus is eager for. Did you catch it? “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” Be eager for that feast, too. But until then, come eagerly to this one – tonight, and each time it’s offered. Amen.