“Juan de Juanes 002” by Joan de Joanes – The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Juan_de_Juanes_002.jpg#/media/File:Juan_de_Juanes_002.jpg

Message Script: Matthew 26:17-19; 26-29
Message Purpose: No longer a symbol of remembrance – now a means of grace
Sermon Title: A Means of Grace

Jesus is a Jew. Jesus is Jewish – a Jewish rabbi. It is very likely Jesus had participated in the Passover meal all of his life. As a young child he would have been asked the traditional Passover questions during the Seder meal.

  1. What has changed, this night, from all the other nights
  2. Why is it that in all other nights we eat both chametz and matzah, but on this night, we eat only matzah
    3. Why is it that in all other nights we eat many vegetables, on this night we eat maror. Why is it that on all other nights we do not dip vegetables even once, on this night, we dip twice?
  1. Why is it that in all other nights some eat sitting and others reclining, but on this night, we are all reclining

Jesus would have grown up with these questions. Jesus would have grown up with this tradition. Certainly the Son of God would have been eager to, “[t]each them diligently to … children, and,… talk of them when [He] sat in [His] house, and when [He] walked by the way” (Deut 6:7). And yet this year’s Passover was different. Luke tells us Jesus had “earnestly desired to eat this Passover before I suffer” (Luke 22:15).

I really try to sympathize with Jesus in this moment. Have you ever had to give a speech in school, or sing, or play a song in front of people, or had to give a presentation at work? There is this building tension for how it’s going to go because when the moment comes you want to get it exactly right. I wonder if that is not some of what Jesus was feeling in the hours leading up to Jesus’ arrest. Jesus knew what was coming and yet He earnestly desired to celebrate this Passover meal with the disciples. What was it about the meal, and the company Jesus earnestly desired? As we have talked about already the meal symbolically represents a time in history when God rescued God’s people from bondage to slavery and death. However, in this meal Jesus is preparing for His own death, and Jesus’ death will mean the end of bondage to sin and death for all who accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. What’s more Jesus’ death was going to be slow and painful, and Jesus knew what was coming. I can scarcely imagine the stress Jesus must have been under, and the anxiety Jesus was feeling.

While juggling all of these emotions Jesus offers the disciples a means of taking strength for the trials ahead. Jesus took bread, broke it and divided it among the disciples saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). Then Jesus took the cup and said, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20). Now you may be asking, “How does this meal give strength to the disciples?” It sounds like an addition to the Seder meal. True the breaking of bread in remembrance does sound like just another step in the Seder meal. The point of separation comes with the cup. For, it is the blood of Jesus Christ that frees us. Amen? Amen.

What Jesus has done is connect the Old Testament law with a new covenant. Think back to the Exodus. God takes the first born of Egypt during the 10th plague. The blood of the first born is important. Throughout Israel’s history whenever a new covenant, or a new contract was signed an animal was sacrificed and its blood was used to seal the deal. For the Passover the lamb has to be an animal without blemish. Jesus is the only human to never commit sin, and He is about to give Himself as an offering – a true offering without blemish. Now Jesus is giving a new covenant, and it will be signed in Jesus’ blood. This meal is no longer a meal of symbolic remembrance. This meal is now a means of grace. Through the blood of Jesus Christ God’s grace flows freely. It is the grace of justification. Although, we have wronged God by our prideful disobedience Jesus’ sacrifice and the blood that flows saves us. Jesus blood saves us from sin and death and provides a means for us to take strength and be renewed for the trials we face. Sisters and brothers God loves you. God loves you enough to pay the heavy price we brought upon ourselves in the Garden of Eden. If you are lost; If you are struggling; If you are just having a bad day. If you feel like you are having a bad life, God still loves you. God has always loved you. And because God loves you God has provided a means to take strength in God’s love and be renewed for the journey ahead. Holy Communion is not a meal of remembrance. Holy Communion is a means of God extending God’s grace.

In the name of Jesus Christ – Amen.