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The Meaning of the Lord's Supper Luke 22:14 - 20

August 29, 2021 Speaker: Jim Galli Series: The Gospel According to Luke

Topic: Sunday AM Passage: Luke 22:14–22:20

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Luke 22:14 - 20  The Lord's Supper

Ch. 22:14 And when the hour had come He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. 15 And He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; 18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 20 And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.

This morning we approach a topic over which much blood has been spilt in the history of the christian church during the centuries since Jesus spoke these words.

My hope this morning is to help you understand the doctrine of the Lord's supper.  We tend to dis-like the necessity of approaching something like this from a doctrinal perspective.  Why can't we simply enjoy the beauty of this gift to the church?  Why do we need to understand and indeed dig into the doctrine here instead of just putting our brains in neutral and enjoying the beauty and the feelings?

I'm painfully aware of those defaults.  We all share those thoughts.  I'm as guilty as the next person.  "Doctrine divides.  Love unites."  We've all heard that, or something like it.

I was talking to Heather just an hour ago (tuesday as I began this study session while I was away) and she was sharing the pain, the intense pain that her and Carrington were experiencing over having to get serious about Mom teaching child the basics of Phonics.

Heather said there was arguing and tears and anger over the insistance of getting serious about phonics.  Doing the boring work.  For most of us, phonics is another word for torture.

I encouraged her that when I was a small boy I was lucky enough that my parents had enrolled me in the Olive View Christian Day School and our teachers there were serious about forcing us to learn phonics and spelling.  Get out your phonics books.  <global groan>  

But the teacher would not be dissuaded.  It was like force feeding a starving patient.  You don't want this, but you need it.  It's a matter of life or death.

And then the spelling bee's.  Miss Lyons had a rubber hose.  She would pull up your pants leg and whip your legs with that thing.  She'd go to prison these days, and even then, the parents were concerned.  The board of that private school engaged my dad to build them paddles.  Miss Lyons rubber hose was retired.

But the paddles were totally able to inflict enough pain to cause us rotten kids to obey our teachers.  The paddles, one for each classroom, all had the same verse on them.  Funny how I can still remember it exactly;

Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.  Prov. 22:15  KJV  I got to contemplate that verse more than many of my peers.  But I learned phonics and I learned spelling, and to this day, out of all of my friends, none of them can write a good sentence or spell correctly.  

Heather says, no one else in our family can either.  The public schools system did not do for my children what the christian school forced onto me.  

Doctrine is the biblical version of phonics.  And you folks are going to get some doctrine.  In fact, you folks are trained over long years you've put up with me for receiving serious doctrine.  Not as fun as swaying by a campfire and singing; Kumbaya my lord, kumbaya but hopefully in the days of pressure, if they come, doctrine may preserve your life.  Spiritually.  

The first thing to consider is the word sacraments.  Our Roman Catholic friends have 7 sacraments, 5 of which are necessary steps in the attainment of salvation by works.  baptism, confirmation, eucharist, penance, and extreme unction. The two special sacraments not necessary to salvation but helpful are ordination and matrimony.

Protestants hold to two of those sacraments as being biblically founded but neither of them adds to salvation in any way, they are simply matters of worshipful obedience.  Baptism by immersion and the Lord's supper.

We believe salvation is by faith alone, in Christ alone, who has accomplished everything for us, in our place, on the cross and then affirmed what He accomplished by rising from the dead.

This morning we are in one of the passages in the gospels that speaks of the ordination of what we call the Lord's supper.  A service of communion with our Lord that we do out of obedience and love for Him, because He told us to do so lest we forget what He accomplished in our places on the cross.  Let's dive in.  

14 And when the hour had come He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him.

What hour?  His hour.  How many times had the Lord's life been threatened and Satan had tried to stand in the way of what Jesus was doing and it says "but His hour had not yet come?"   A common phrase in the new testament.  Jesus moves through His ministry and nothing interrupts what He has set out to accomplish    . . . because His hour had not yet come.

The hour had arrived.  His arrest and death are imminent.  The scene is the passover meal.  Moses in Deuteronomy 16 gave instructions for eating the passover;

Deuteronomy 16:6,7
But at the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to place his name in, there thou shalt sacrifice the passover at even, at the going down of the sun, at the season that thou camest forth out of Egypt…

God ordained a set time to celebrate the passover.  On the day of celebration, when the sun had gone down, then God's people remembered their deliverence as they took the passover lamb and ate as families.

God's teaching method during all of the ages leading up to the sacrifice of His Son, once for all, the just for the unjust, is in picture stories.  Blood must be let for sin.  Sacrifices for the cleansing of sins.  Something must die in the sinners place.  It was a bloody bloody system.

The hour has come on several levels.  The hour has come for passover.  The sun has gone down on the prescribed day.  The disciples and Jesus will partake together.  

But the hour for Jesus to become the Lamb of God who sheds His blood for the sins of the whole world had come.  His hour had come.  And in what Jesus says, a new picture story takes place.  Jesus will be the final passover lamb.  His body will be crushed and broken, for us.  His blood will flow, for us.  Once for all time.  But it doesn't stop there.

A new covenant.  A new promise.  We don't celebrate passover.  We don't kill a lamb and eat the meat and smear the blood.  Instead we immerse ourselves into Jesus body and blood.  Once for all time.  Finished.  All of the old testament promises and types, completed in His death for us.

Baptism is the picture of what happens to us when we are truly saved and regenerated by the Holy Spirit.  The water represents the grave.  In Christ, we go down into the water as old dead sinners, In Him we take our sins to the cross with Him, and with Him, inside Him we come up out of the waters with newness of life.  Sin is gone.  

We come out of the grave, out of the waters, raised up to new life.  In Him.  We do that in obedience, one time, some time after our regenerative salvation, when we can understand somewhat, the symbolism and exult in it.

The Lord's supper is our recurring remembrance of His once for all time act, on the cross, in our behalf, that set us free from the condemnation of sin.

15 And He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;

Luke tells us His exact words having received them second hand from those who were present.  We miss something in our translations.  It's not important docrinally but it's beautiful none the less.  

The jews had an idiom where they used the same word in both noun form and verb form in order to stress the importance.  Jesus says;

Epithymia Ἐπιθυμίᾳ With desire N-DFS epethymēsa  ἐπεθύμησα  I have desired  V-AIA-1S  With desire I have desired.  It intensifies the desire He is speaking of.  We might say I've been waiting for this moment.  We've anticipated often and continually some moment to finally come, and now it's here.  

With desire I have desired.  To eat this final feast with His beloved ones.  To tell them that the old image of sacrificial lambs is being consummated with a single once for all time, Lamb of God.

before I suffer   “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;

Before He suffers He wants to prepare His disciples for what is about to happen.  He wants to finish the old covenant and bring in the new covenant.  That's a lot to accomplish with a little group of guys who are like me.  Thick.  2000 years of old covenant are completed in one final sacrifice.  

They didn't get it, but they will.  If you read on a few verses, as soon as He drops this bombshell they're already fighting with each other about who's the greatest in His kingdom.  Totally innapropriate to what He just said.  In one ear and out the other as my mother used to say.

Blockheads.  Like me.  But after they pick themselves up and dust themselves off from wherever they landed after this drop kick, after the death and resurrection,  they'll say, now what was that He said about a new covenant.  About Him being the final sacrifice.  About not eating the old passover lamb any more, but eating His flesh and His blood, sacrificed once for all for us.  

It gives me hope.  The block heads finally got it.  Not on the day it was said, but eventually they understood and wrote it down so I would have it.  Complete.  Blockheads to blockhead.  That's how we do it.  Thursday, as I drove home from the south end of Catlow valley in Eastern Oregon, 26th August, I celebrated being a christian for 51 years.  Talk about blockheads.  I haven't gotten very far.

16 for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”

Finality.  This is the last time eating the passover lamb will have significance.  When the real comes, the type that foreshadowed and looked forward to it, becomes moot.  We don't need the type, the picture story, when the real thing that it looked forward to . . . happens.

Some basque sheepman a hundred years ago has earned enough to have a bride sent from the old country to join him in Nevada.  He looks at a picture often, anticipating the comforts of someone to be with, to partner with in the work, a companion in a lonely land.  He looks and looks at that picture until the train arrives and his bride steps off.  Now he can throw the picture away.  The real has come.  Paul says;  

11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I set aside childish ways. 12  Now we see but a dim reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.  1 Cor. 13:11,12

The passover sacrifice was a picture seen in a mirror dimly.  We don't bother looking at pictures of what we bought on ebay after the package arrives.  Jesus says, this is the final relevant passover meal that has meaning as a picture of future things, because the real that it pictured is about to take place.

Millions and millions and millions of passover lambs slaughtered over centuries always looking forward to the final sacrifice that it was a picture of.  Those lambs couldn't remit sin.  All they could do was look forward to God's final once for all sacrifice.  Jesus says, this is the last one before the real once for all, happens.  The sacrifice will be fulfilled.  Once for all time.

I keep saying that over and over because I can't stress how important that idea is.  Old covenant, millions of sacrifices that did not remove sin.  New covenant, one sacrifice, once for all time, that is able to remove the sins of all who believe, old testament saints, church age, tribulation period, until He comes.  Every person who is ever saved and spends eternity with God in heaven will have had his sins washed away by one person at one moment in one act.  Jesus.

17 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; 18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes.”

He makes it perfectly clear that this is the final meal, the final cup of wine until a future day comes when we will drink wine with Him and eat bread with Him at His table in His kingdom.

The final bread, the final wine, the final pictogram before the real comes.  Now then we need to talk about accidents and substance.  Those were the terms Aristotle used to define what we now know as science.  We might substitute elements for the word accidents.  

I'm going to make you all queasy and talk about transubstantiation here.  Really?  Is that really necessary?  People died over this 400 years ago.  It cost Thomas Cranmer his life, and many many others theirs also.  They died because they would not say that the elements, the bread and the wine, actually miraculously become the body of Jesus and the blood of Jesus by miraculous transformation.

I had a lot of time to think about these things on my time away, driving through a million miles of smoke.  I'll start with a quote; by a fellow named Brad Littlejohn who was writing on this problem, this rift of the church in two.

"Substance and accidents for Aristotle were not two separable variables, but two components of a thing that always went together. Indeed, it was precisely by observing the accidents of a thing that we formed our initial determination of what kind of substance it was. Aquinas, at least, was well aware of his departure from Aristotle at this point, and insisted that the transformation in question was “entirely supernatural, and effected by God’s power alone.”"  
Brad Littlejohn

Aristotle said the accidental elements formed the actual substance.  This is basic science 101.  Wheat and water and yeast combine to make bread.  Grape juice and fermentation that gives alcohol create wine.  The substance is the result of the accidents present.

In our current culture we are being asked to abandon science and Aristotle and to accept that a girl, a human with all of the accidents of a binary female at birth is a boy if she says she is a boy and thinks she is a boy.  

For the most part we could care less what someone thinks about reality and we would go on our merry way trying on the surface not to offend that person.  You believe you're a scrambled egg, I'm fine with it as long as I can add salt before I eat you.  I won't argue with you whether you're a scrambled egg or not.  

But now that isn't enough and we are changing all language so that it becomes non-sensical and unintelligible and by doing that you are forcing me to acquiesce with your game of pretend.  Me not offending you wasn't enough, you must offend me by insisting I join you in your game of non-reality.

But that isn't new.  We've actually been playing a similar game of pretend for centuries, and like our current version, in the ages old game of pretend, contrary to science and Aristotle's good rules, if you didn't join in the pretend . . . you were very often burned at the stake for heresy.

I'm talking about the Catholic church and the Eucharist.  The celebration of the mass.  Thousands of protestants were murdered because they refused to state that ordinary bread did become the body of Jesus and ordinary wine did in fact become the blood of Jesus.

Why was that important enough to die over?  Were those protestants crazy?  Here's why it was important then and is still important now.  By making the bread the body of Jesus, magically and literally, you are crucifying Him over and over and over again.  By insisting that the wine, which the catholic church witholds from ordinary catholics, it's only for the clergy, by making that the blood of Jesus, literally and magically, you are shedding His blood anew week after week after week.

Scripture teaches clearly that Jesus ascended to heaven and is currently at the right hand of His Father, in heaven, waiting for the day and hour when He will in fact physically return to this world in judgement and fury to depose Satan and lock him away and to crush all evil rebellion in this world.  

That day is promised clearly and we can study those events and in fact we have been doing just that.  In John's gospel at this exact juncture, before His arrest, in the upper room with His disciples Jesus clearly lays out the distinction between God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  

He says I'm going away, but it is to your benefit, because the Holy Spirit will come to you.  Jesus in physical form can only be in one place at one time.  He is going to return to heaven but He will send His Holy Spirit who will dwell with us and in us, corporately and individually.  

Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.  That promise speaks of His Holy Spirit who dwells with us in this world.

The mass is a sacrifice of the body and blood of Jesus over and over again.  It wasn't sufficient when He died and rose again 2000 years ago.  Like the sacrificial passover lambs it has to be done over and over and over in order to be effectual.  Drag the physical body of Jesus out of heaven.  Weekly, daily.  Drag the physical blood of Jesus out of heaven, back to earth weekly, daily, in the mass.

You won't find that in your Bibles.  He sent His Spirit to dwell with us, not His physical body to be re-murdered every week.  Re-sacrificed every week.  Not in my Bible.

Peter, who was there that day, wrote these words;  For Christ also died for sins once for all (time), the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;  1 Pet. 3:18

The author of Hebrews says the same thing;  Otherwise, Christ would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But now He has appeared once for all (time)at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself.  Hebrews 9:26

OK, fair enough, but why is it such a big deal?  Why did people let themselves be burned at the stake over this?

Stay with me now and we'll wind up our thoughts.  Why is this important enough to die over?  Important enough to part company with people who we love who claim to believe in Jesus?  Because of what Paul told the christians at Galatia.  Galatians 5:

     1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

     2 Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. 4 You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.  Galations 5:1-4

Same problem, slightly different actuality.  The galations had started out by faith, but then they were told, no, faith isn't enough, you need to add works to your salvation.  You need to do stuff.  You need to keep the jewish laws, beginning with circumcision, and then do all the rest too.  That's how you get to heaven.

The eucharist, the mass, the re-crucifixion of Jesus, over and over again is works you do to gain your salvation.  Do stuff.  Eat this wafer that we say is Jesus body somehow by magic.  God will save you if you do stuff.  Earn your way to God by doing something.  Anything, it doesn't matter what it is.  

Replace circumcision and the old testament law with church traditions begotten somehow over hundreds of years in church magisterium.  It's the same problem in a different package.  Do stuff to be saved.  Do stuff to be accepted by God.  Do stuff to save yourself, or at least to help in the process.

Paul says, if you do stuff to be saved, you've given up simple faith and now you're working your way to heaven.  If you do that, Paul's words, not mine, Christ will be of no benefit to you.

People died because of what Paul said.  This is a live or die, heaven or hell doctrine.  You either trust in the finished sacrifice and resurrection, once for all time, completed, for you, to be saved, or you do stuff.  If you do stuff, that's how you're getting to heaven.  Christ will be of no benefit to you.  People were willing to be burned because it's a life or death issue.  Get it wrong, you'll be lost forever.  Those are the things we'll die over.  It isn't secondary stuff.  Get this wrong and you're not saved.  

 19 And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 20 And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.

We keep the sacrament of the Lord's supper as a remembrance of His once for all time sacrifice.  My body should have been broken for sin.  His was broken for me.  My blood should have been spilled for my sin, His was spilled for me.

He died in my place.  When I accepted that, by faith, nothing else is necessary.  God imputes Jesus perfect righteousness to my account.  God imputes my sin, which I am helpless to do anything about, to His Son and Jesus takes my punishment and gives me His righteousness.  

He said, do this . . . in remembrance of the once for all time completed act that saved you from the condemnation and penalty that you were due.  That's it.  Remember.

The church doesn't keep the passover.  That ceremony is finished, once for all time, by the actual event that it pictured.  But we are a forgetful people, just like the children of Israel, and Jesus instituted this table, this commemoration, this little celebration we do of taking a piece of bread and a tiny glass of grape juice, and we receive those elements in remembrance of the one great act that finished the old covenant and instituted the new covenant in Jesus blood.

It isn't His actual physical body.  It isn't His actual physical blood.  It doesn't save you to partake.  It doesn't alter your position before God in any way.  If a lost person takes those bits and eats them, they're still lost.  If a redeemed person takes those bits and eats them, they're still redeemed, but not by doing anything.

They have one purpose.  Never forget what Jesus accomplished for you on that cross, as His body was broken and crushed, in your place, for your sin, and His blood flowed out of Him as He died there, His death to purchase your life.  

Ephesus fell out of love with Jesus.  They had everything going for them, their doctrines were all correct and they were fierce against false doctrines and heresy and they were busy busy busy about doing the church's work and somewhere in all of that they got too busy to remember Jesus.  To love Jesus.

We stop what we're doing for a few brief moments at a set time each month to receive the symbolic elements, the bread represents the body that was broken for us, and the juice represents the blood that cleansed away our sin.  We remember what Jesus did for us.  What it cost Him to purchase us.  

That is the purpose of our communion service here.  To remember, and to renew our steadfast love, if perhaps somehow, that love is slipping, is diminished.  Remembering stimulates our hearts to love.