Sermon Audio & Transcript
Grace mercy and peace from God our father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
A lot of games that we played as children are based on the idea of passing something on. In a relay race, the runners have to pass the baton from one to the other. The most challenging part of the race oftentimes is passing that baton. The exchange can be so tricky, even in the Olympics last summer one of the teams dropped to the baton, and another team was disqualified because they pass the baton outside of the zone where it was supposed to happen. In the game of football, nearly every play begins by the center passing the ball to the quarterback, and it continues with the quarterback passing or handing off or pitching the ball to another player. The passing on of the ball is a crucial and key element in football, and even in the game of tag, there’s something that you have to pass on. Nobody really knows what it is but it’s whatever makes someone it. It has to be passed on from one player to the next, and if you are it, you have to find someone to pass it on to.
The apostle Paul tells us that he is passing something on but, it’s not a child’s game. It’s not even a grown-ups game. It is as precious as the person of Jesus Christ, and it is as valuable as the forgiveness of sins. What the apostle Paul passed on to the people of Corinth was this; he said that he received it from the Lord, and he also passed on to you, the Lord Jesus on the night he was betrayed. Paul receive those truths of the Lord’s supper from God himself, from Jesus Christ, and he passes them on to the Corinthians, and the Holy Spirit has seen fit to in to inspire this word and to preserve this word so that it would be passed on to us as well. This wonderful teaching about this wonderful meal, and tonight the relay continues. As we remind ourselves and each other, and as we refresh our memory of what this meal is. Repent and turn to Jesus has been our theme — for the Wednesday services during the season of Lent, and tonight we continue that theme by saying this: repent and turn to Jesus, and receive a special assurance of his forgiveness.
If there ever was a church that desperately needed a refresher course in what the Lord’s Supper is, it was the Corinthians. They had botched their celebration of the Lord’s supper terribly. It is thought that the Lord’s supper meal would be preceded in Corinth by something called the agape. The meal in which kind of like our potlucks. Everyone would bring some food to share; they would eat together. And then perhaps at the end of it, or in some places perhaps in be in the beginning as they started the celebration, they would have the Lord’s supper. But it was in some way connected with this big meal. And what would happen? Far too often it was used as an excuse for some to drink too much. It was used by some as an excuse to eat too much. There was jostling for position. There were people claiming they should go first before the others. It sounds like what they had rather than the Lord’s Supper was a free-for-all celebration of gluttony. Drunkenness and gluttony was not the Corinthians only issue. Some of them were using it as an opportunity to show off their divisions. To show why their party was better than the others. Some of them in Corinth would say, “I follow Paul.” Others would say, “I follow Apollo’s.” Some would say I follow Peter and there were others who even claimed superiority by saying I don’t follow any of those guys. I follow only Christ. And so instead of celebrating a holy communion, they were celebrating an unholy disunion. Instead of a wonderful unity that was rooted in God’s word, they were squaring off into factions. They were trying to sanctify their love-less-ness and self-indulgence before the Lord’s altar. No wonder the apostle Paul writes before the close of Chapter 11, that is why many of you are sick, and some of you have fallen asleep. The Lord’s Supper had become the Corinthian’s supper, and they were not blessed because of it. They were sinning spiritually and suffering bodily.
For Paul to fix the bad practices of the Corinthian congregation, he took them back to the center, back to the beginning, to the source of this doctrine. He said I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you, “the to the Lord Jesus on the night he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and said this is my body which is for you do this in remembrance of me. In the same way after supper, he took the cup saying this cup is the new covenant in my blood.” With the clear words of Jesus Paul tells them to turn aside from what you want and turn to God’s gracious gift. This is not ours to tinker with. This is God’s gift. The supper proclaims Christ’s sacrifice for sins for you. The Lord’s Supper is Christ’s gift to us. In fact, in the Lord’s supper, Christ himself gives us the gift that keeps on giving. He blesses unworthy sinners with the gift of himself in a most wonderful way. Jesus said this is my body. He said this is my blood. Jesus body and blood are really present. Our Catechism uses these terms in with, and under the bread and wine. The Lord’s Supper is a real presence of Christ’s body and blood together with the bread and wine.
If you ask me to explain this I will say I have no idea how to, but how can the body and blood of Christ really be present? Where ever this meal is celebrated from place to place around the globe, many of millions of times simultaneously for 2000 years? I can’t explain how but I can simply say it is. We know that this is a promise made by Jesus Christ himself who cannot lie. We know that Jesus Christ himself has all power in heaven and on earth. In John 1:3b, it tells us that “without him, nothing was made that has been made.” If he can create a universe, can’t he assure you and me that the true body and blood of himself are in the sacrament? The Lord’s supper is not given for us for our logical speculation nor for scientific investigation. The Lord’s supper is given for our comfort, and we need that comfort. Tonight you come to this worship service as you are. You bring with you the sins of youth, or perhaps an entire lifetime supply of sins accumulated in your skeleton closet. There are little sins and large sins. Sins that you committed willfully and sins that you committed by careless neglect. There are ugly sins and awful sins. You come as you are, sinful from birth, and by nature separated from God. But in spite of that, Jesus comes to you tonight just as he is, the friend of sinners. The Savior of sinners. He comes to you tonight and mouth and soul to make you whole. Turn to Jesus tonight first special assurance of your forgiveness, and know for certain that just as surely as you stand before the Lord’s altar, just as surely as your ears hear the words of Jesus instruction, just as surely as your tongue tastes the bread, and your lips sipped the wine, so surely do you receive the body and blood of Jesus.
The body and blood that were given upon the cross to save you from your sins. There is no more personal, no more intimate way of bringing Christ’s forgiveness to us sinners than through his holy supper. Picture it when the pastor speaks the words of the benediction nor the words of the absolution to the congregation that’s for everyone. It’s broadcast to everyone that will listen, but the Lord’s supper you receive a bite of bread and a sip of wine. No one else receives that very bread, and that very wine. Nobody else receives that little piece of Christ’s body and Christ’s blood. It is for you, and make no mistake about it. It conveys the love that Jesus held in his heart for you and it contains the forgiveness of sins that only he is able to give. Such a gift, because it is so precious is why Satan works so hard to try to get us to drop the baton. It’s been said that the Christian faith is always only one generation from disappearing from the face of the earth. If we do not pass along, if we do not hand over the truths of God’s word and the truth concerning this sacrament, future generations will not understand or appreciate what it is. Satan works so hard to try to get us to question this sacrament. Some of the common objections to this, that Satan brings up our this; some people say that the Lord’s supper cannot really be the true body and blood of Christ, When Jesus said this is my body and this is my blood he must’ve meant only this represents my body, or this is a symbol of my body and blood, but the words of Jesus are very clear He says this is my body for you. This is my blood for you. Others will say but how can Jesus body and blood be in more than one place at a time. Well, remember that this is Jesus who was able to walk through a solid door. This is Jesus who is able to walk on water. This is Jesus who is seated at the right hand of his father and who is ruling all things. He is God, and with God all things are possible. Some will challenge but what good can it do to eat and drink something physically? How can that have a spiritual benefit? Well, the truth is that those who eat and drink only believing in something physical receive no spiritual benefit. The spiritual benefit is received by faith when we rely upon the words of Jesus and the promise he gives. This evening Jesus gives his body and blood to us for an assurance of our forgiveness and to strengthen us. Such a blessing needs to be treated reverently and responsibly, and it’s that way with anything in life. If you purchase a new car I hope that you read through the owners manual, so you know the basics of how to take care of that car. If you have a child, you need to learn how to take care of that baby and what to expect as the child grows. Blessings always carry responsibilities and so it is with the awesome blessing of the Lord’s supper carries with it an awesome responsibility. Paul says whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Just as powerful medicine always needs to be taken as directed following the doctor’s orders, so the Lord’s supper needs to be taken according to the will of God himself. But notice something, the apostle Paul does not say whoever is unworthy. Says whoever eats and drinks in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.
Over the years I’ve spoken to many brothers and sisters who knew that they were not worthy to receive the sacrament. I’ve spoken to many who because they felt unworthy stayed away from the sacrament. One because she felt she couldn’t fully forgive her estranged husband. Another, because he felt that he hadn’t fully repented of his sins, and another because he still felt guilty and couldn’t reconcile that with the fact that he was forgiven. Those are people who are unworthy, but guess what? So are you and so am I. If the Lord’s supper depended on us being worthy then, none of us could receive it, and there would be no pastor who is worthy to administer it. Whoever eats and drinks in an unworthy manner is what is what Paul says.
If you believe that Jesus died on the cross. If you believe that you are a sinner who needs that sacrifice. If you believe that through faith in him you are forgiven. If you believe that in the Lord’s supper Jesus offers his own body and blood for the forgiveness of your sins. If you believe that you are with a body of believers with whom you share the same doctrine then, you are worthy. You are ready and your manner is right. Therefore come, come to the Lord’s supper. Come to receive the body and blood of Jesus. Come and receive forgiveness from Jesus, only from Jesus, always from Jesus.
SERMON TEXT: 1 Corinthians 11:23-28
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to youThe Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”In the same way, after he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me. ”For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup.
FIRST LESSON: Exodus 12:1-14
The Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year.Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, year old having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. The animals you choose year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats.Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. Do not eat the meat raw or boiled in water, but roast it over a fire—with the head, legs, and internal organs. Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it. This is how you are to eat it with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover.
“On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.
“This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come, you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance.
GOSPEL: John 13:1-15,34
Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet
It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
“Then, Lord,”Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you. ”For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’and ‘Lord,’and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”