April 5, 2012 at Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church – Mechanicsburg, PA
“And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples said to Him, ‘Where will You have us go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?’”
“Where will You have us go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?” That is the question posed by Jesus’ disciples to their Master. This night was unlike any other nights. It was the time for the Lord’s faithful people to remember what He had done for them so many centuries ago. A prescribed meal was to be prepared and eaten: lamb, unleavened bread, bitter herbs, blessed wine. Through these means, the belief in the Lord’s activity that brings salvation would be reinvigorated.
So the disciples ask: “Where will You have us go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?” They want to know where Jesus wants to eat this meal. Their expected task is to make it ready for their Master. It is the role of disciples. And that task is given to them: “And He sent two of His disciples and said to them, ‘Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, “The Teacher says, ‘Where is My guest room, where I may eat the Passover with My disciples?’” And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.’ And the disciples set out and went to the city and found it just as He had told them, and they prepared the Passover.”
The disciples are sent with their expected assignment. They have the room ready and the meal prepared. All is as it should be. But this night would truly be unlike any other nights. Remember the question that the disciples asked: “Where will You have us go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?” A place was determined, and Jesus’ disciples made it ready. A meal was eaten, food prepared by Jesus’ disciples. But Jesus does something unexpected: “And as they were eating, He took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, ‘Take; this is My body.’ And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And He said to them, ‘This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.’”
What is happening here? The roles are reversed from the norm. The Master is preparing a meal for His disciples. He is making it ready and distributing it. Though He is greater than the Twelve, Jesus serves them. This is not expected. And Jesus gives this meal a significance equal to the Passover. He states that it is part of a covenant, just as the Passover of old was linked to the promise that the Lord made to His people and His relationship to them.
That is why we commemorate this night. Jesus’ action establishes a meal for His disciples. This meal brings benefits as His people participate in it and remember His activity for their salvation. That is the purpose of the Lord’s Supper. The food is lamb—not a sheep from some shepherd’s flock, but the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The drink is the fruit of the vine—not a plant from some vintner’s garden, but the Vine to which we belong as branches. So Jesus says: “Take; this is My body…. This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.”
Why do we eat this meal? To participate in the covenant that has been made with us through the sacrifice that Jesus offers for us. So the apostle writes: “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” Eating and drinking this meal—the body and blood of Jesus—we have the confirmation of our belonging to Him as His people: “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” That is what we do, as we have become part of the Church, united as members of a body with Christ our Lord.
The Lord’s Supper gives us the opportunity to remember what Jesus has done for us. We are confronted with the sacrifice of Jesus every time we partake of this meal: “As often as we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” His words are spoken to us—the words that make the bread His body and the wine His blood, as well as tell us what He has done: “My body given into death; My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.” Jesus’ sacrifice is unavoidable. It is how He has prepared salvation for us. This is the Passover that He accomplishes for us. Jesus’ meal makes it clear that He has done it. It shows that we are in a covenant relationship with Him, so that we are kept safe from sin, death, and Satan.
So we eat and drink, believing what Jesus has said about this meal—that it is His Body and His blood given to us. We eat and drink, confessing that “the Son of Man goes as it is written of Him”—that was betrayed, was rejected, was convicted, and was crucified to fulfill the Lord’s promise of salvation. We eat and drink, receiving the service that Jesus provides for us—forgiveness, life, and salvation. And we eat and drink, anticipating that day when the Risen Jesus will feast with us in the kingdom of God.
This is why we prayed: “O Lord, in this wondrous Sacrament You have left us a remembrance of Your passion. Grant that we may so receive the sacred mystery of Your body and blood that the fruits of Your redemption may continually be manifest in us.” Again on this night, our Master Jesus has prepared this meal for us. Our Lord again serves us. Here is where He wants us to eat it.
So what shall we do? “What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.” We will eat and drink, just as He tells us. Come again this night and partake of the meal that the Master provides. Hear His description of it and believe it is true, just as He has told you. Receive the benefits of His redemptive acts that He performed. For whoever eats this bread and drinks this cup, confidently believing this Word and promise of Christ, dwells in Christ and Christ in him and has eternal life.
+ In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.