Text: Matthew 26:26-30††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† January 1, 2012.
1) A recent history event: Today, December 7, 2011, marks the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese which effectively got the US involved in the Pacific theater of the WW II. Besides the annual ceremony held each year to remember the 2,804 death that day, the US Navy has a special way to remember the heroes. Every time, a Navy vessel arrives or departs the Navy bases in Pearl Harbor, the crew of that ship lines up in dress uniform. They stand at attention at armís length on the outer edges of the deck, in salute to the soldiers, sailors and civilians who died on that day. It is a stirring sight that triggers an incredible emotional connection between the servants of today and the servants of the yesterday. It grants nobility to the work of todayís sailors while giving dignity to the sacrifice of those from the past.
2) An ancient history event: When Jesus instituted the Lordís Supper (Matt. 26:26-29) it was surely with an eye toward creating this same kind of emotional bond. His command ďThis do in remembrance of meĒ (1 Corinthians 11:24, 25) connects the participants in the Lordís Supper to His sacrifice in the ancient time while also granting us the honor to be at His table. Just as the Navy carefully prescribes the way it salutes the fallen heroes, the Scripture teaches us how to remember the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. These acts of reverence and thanksgiving serve to honor past action of the Lord while giving purpose to present service of all of His followers.
THESE JESUS HAD DONE:
1) Itís a plan, not a surprise: The sacrificial death of Jesus was not a surprise as the attack on Pearl Harbor by an enemy, but a plan by a loving God. God had laid out his plan on the sacrifice of His Son in detail hundreds of years earlier in Isaiah 53. God knew far ahead what would happen to His Son long before Jesus was even born. In God, nothing is a surprise but all planned.
2) Itís for redemption, not destruction: The death of Jesus was for the redemption of men from their sins, (Matt 1:21) This is in plain contrary to the death at Pearl Harbor caused by enemy attack aimed for destruction. Our God is full of love, not hatred. He is our Father, not our enemy. He always has our best interest in mind, not to harm us, as the enemy did.
3) It brings lasting peace, not war: In the surrender document signing ceremony on board of the USS Missouri on September 4, 1945, 5-star general Douglas MacArthur hoped that the document will end all the wars and suffering of wars. But his hope has never been materialized. In contrary the death of Jesus, He brought down the dividing walls and made peace between God and men and men to men forever. (Ephesians 2:13-16)
4) It brings life eternal, not temporal: If the youngest of those who died at Pearl Harbor 70 years ago was 20 years old, he would be 90 now. If he is still alive, he may live a few more years and that is it. None of those died that day may live forever. But that is not in the case of the sacrificial death of Jesus. Everyone who accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior shall live forever to eternity both in this world and the world to come. While we all mourn the loss of mortal lives, we rejoice the gift of eternal life through the death of our Lord.
LESSONS WE NEED TO LEARN: (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)
1) It is an historical event: ďFor I received from the Lord what I also pass on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread.Ē (11:23)This is a recount of the Passover night when Jesus instituted the Lordís Supper recorded in Matthew 26. Paul emphasized the authority of his teaching based on historical facts, not on imagination or stories of some religious founders who made up things to support their teaching. Christian faith is based on true historical facts, not on unfound theories or human imagination. When we celebrate the Lordís Supper, we repeat or recount what the Lord had done that night with his followers at the historical even of the Jewish Passover festival. Christian faith is from fact in history, not fables from traditional stories. So we know our faith is built on solid ground.
2) It is self sacrificial love: ďAnd when he had given thanks, he broken it and said: This is my body which is (broken) for you.Ē (11:24)The self sacrificial love of God on the life of His only Son is the foundation of the gospel of salvation and the core of the Christian faith. God did not just show man a way to approach him, He provided the way by the body and blood of his own Son so man may get back to his creator. All other religions demand sacrifices of the believers as bribes to please their gods with the hope to be saved. Only Christian faith provides the path by God Himself to reach man.
3) It is for remembrance of Jesus: ďDo this in remembrance of meÖThis cup is the new covenant in my blood, do this, when ever you drink it, in remembrance of me.Ē (11:24, 25) Twice the Lord asked that his followers will remember him, his self sacrificial death every time they observe the Lordís Supper. Remembering the sacrificial death of Jesus is the base of our connection with the Lord and his love. We are saved with the price paid by the life of Godís Son. Salvation is free for the receiver, but not for the Giver, God. In the Old Testament, God instituted 7 feasts for the Israelis to help them remember what God had done in history. In the New Testament God also instituted the Lordís Supper so believers of Christian faith will never forget the love of God.
4) It is looking for the return of Christ: ďFor whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lordís death until he comes.Ē (11:26)The return or second coming of Christ was an urgent hope of the early Christians under hash persecution from both Judaism and the Roman Empire. It is also the definitive hope of all Christians still live in this world full of sin, wickedness, evil and injustice. As it was with the early saints, we are looking for the return of the Lord to set up his kingdom on early, the new heaven and new earth as it is in Rev. 21. It was that hope of righteousness and justice we all want to see.
THINGS WE NEED TO DO RIGHT: (1 Corinthians 11:26b-29)
1) Proclaiming his death: Proclaiming the death of the Lord Jesus is proclaiming the gospel: His death, burial and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Proclaiming the gospel message is the great commission the Lord has given to all his followers, including us. When we observe the Lordís Supper, it is more than just a ceremony, it is a reminder that we have been given the responsibility to tell other about the death of Jesus Christ and the grace God for all who will believe in his Son. Every time we observe the Lordís Supper, we declare Godís love for the world once again to call sinners to come home.
2) Do it in a worthy manner: ďTherefore, whoever eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and the blood of the Lord.Ē (11:27)What is the unworthy manner in observing the Lordís Supper is explained in the first part of this chapter, 11:17-22. Some of the Corinthians Christians did not respect the event by bringing unruly and disruptive acts into the otherwise a sacred celebration. The Lordís Supper is never something people can play down or despise or do it without due respect. If one is not a confessed, forgiven, saved and baptized true follower of Jesus Christ, he/she should not eat the bread nor drink the cup. To act otherwise will not bring the person any blessing but instead it is a blasphemy to the holiness of the event and therefore is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.
3) It is time for self-examination: ďA man ought to examine him-self before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.Ē (11:28) Jesus died to forgive our sins, paid the price for our sins, took away the punishment of our sins. Therefore observing the Lordís Supper is a solemn time to look into our hearts, examine our lives and confess our sins before we can be worthy of partaking the table of the Lord.
4) Be serious with Lordís Supper: ďFor anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.Ē (11:29)This is about the consequence of not taking the Lordís Supper seriously and the judgment they put on themselves. Judgment, krima in Greek, means to put one self under chastisement, something in between of rebuke and damnation, katakrima. It is not a small matter not to come to the Lordís table with self-searching and repentance. If we partake the Lordís Supper without a clean heart and honest spirit, we condemn ourselves with that reckless behavior. The Lordís Supper is therefore a time for soul searching and repentance.
1) With utmost gratitude: If loss of life in a war deserves so much attention and honor, how much more the loss of the life of the only Son of God for the redemption of the sins of all men may deserve? The Lordís Supper is never intended to be a religious act or ceremony, but it is a time to remember the reason and the sacrifice God in Jesus has given to us for the remission of our sins. We need to approach the Lordís table with utmost gratitude and humility for what God has done for us.
2) Jesus has opened the way: Although the Lordís Supper is for believers, the door is always open to all who are willing to enter into a life relationship with Jesus Christ. It is the best and the most meaningful day today, the New Year day, to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior if you have never done that before. Do not miss this precious opportunity. Open your heart, humble yourself, ask Jesus to forgive your sins and enter into your heart so he can be your Lord, then get baptized and become a full member of Godís church. Next time when we celebrate the Lordís Supper, you may be able to participate in full measures of Godís children.