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In Remembrance of the Lord

Date: Jun. 6, 2010

Author: Michael Mark

Luke 22:1-23

Key Verse: Luke 22:19-20

“And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’  In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’”

This past Monday was Memorial Day, and many of us enjoyed the day off, but how many of us really know the meaning of this holiday?  Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for the soldiers who have lost their lives fighting for America in any of its wars, but today to most people it is nothing more than a day off work and a chance to BBQ.  The reason is, for many of us, we do not have any relatives that fought in wars, but however, for those of us who do know of people that have served this nation, it is a day of great significance and meaning.  It is a chance to recognize that these people hold a place in our hearts, and that they are special to us, and we honor them.

The same is true of remembrance of the Lord.  What happens when we neglect to remember God?  We often backslide, we forget the difference between right and wrong, and sometimes, I don’t know if you all have experienced this, but for some reason life becomes more complicated.  The importance of remembering the Lord cannot be stressed enough – before Jesus’ time the Lord provided the Passover as a means to remember him, and in our day he has provided the Lord’s Supper.  This is not just for a select few people, as some would like to believe, but the whole world needs to know about this.  Let us seek to understand the importance of the remembrance of the Lord through this passage, as we learn about 1) The Preparation of the Passover, 2) The Passing of the Old Passover, and finally 3) The Proclamation of the New Passover.

Part I: The Preparation of the Passover

Look at verse 1: “Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching.”  How many know what the Passover is about?  Exodus 12 explains what the Passover is about.  During the time the nation of Israel was held captive by Egypt, the Lord promised deliverance by sending 10 plagues onto Egypt.  The tenth plague was the plague of the firstborn, where the Lord would go through Egypt and kill all the firstborn sons of Egypt.  The Israelites were told to sacrifice a lamb, and take some of the blood and spread it on the sides and top of the door frame.  When the Lord went through Egypt, if he saw the blood he would pass over the house, sparing the firstborn son of the Israelite household.  Hence, the commemoration of this event was ordained by God as the Passover and the Feast of the Unleavened Bread (Exodus 12:17).  After the Temple was built, households were required to bring one unblemished lamb to sacrifice for their family for the feast – and in this passage we are now approaching this time. 

It was a grand celebration, and Jews from all over the land made pilgrimages to Jerusalem to make their offerings at the temple, and hundreds of thousands of people if not millions would flood the city.  It was a time of celebration, commemoration and remembrance of how the Lord mightily delivered them from the hands of the Egyptians.  One of the reasons the Jewish culture has maintained such a strong identity, even to this day, and despite all the persecution, are traditions like these that give them all a common ground and a remembrance of their roots, where they came from.  It helped them maintain their sense of identity, and I believe as Christians, we can benefit through the means of remembrance which our Lord has provided.

First, we’ll look at God’s preparation for the Passover, then, we’ll look at God’s preparation for the Passover.  Yes, I did say that twice, but in the second time, man plays a role, though as we’ll see, it’s still God who prepared the Passover.  In verses 2-6, we see that the chief priests and teachers of the law were plotting to kill Jesus, but they were afraid of the people.  Jesus also stopped moving around publicly at this time, so his whereabouts were hard to determine.  They needed an inside man to give up his location, but they didn’t have to look very hard; Judas, one of the Twelve, came to them.  Satan had entered into him, and he conspired with them to betray Jesus, and the religious leaders were delighted, and gave him money.

What we should realize here is that everything mentioned here was part of God’s plan; it was God’s will that all these things should happen.  It was prophesied in Ps 41:9 “Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.”  The same event was prophesied in even more detail in Zech 11:12-13 “I told them, “If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.”  So they paid me thirty pieces of silver [which is exactly what they paid Judas].  And the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter” – the handsome price at which they priced me!”  God knew these things would happen – and in fact they had to happen so the scripture would be fulfilled, and God’s plan would be carried out to the letter.

Next, look at verse 8: “Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, ‘Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.’”  Now here you would think that Peter and John prepared the Passover, but when you look at verses 10-13, you’ll see that it was God who prepared this Passover also!  Jesus told them everything – that they would meet a man carrying a jar of water, they would follow him to his home, and there would be a large room furnished for them to eat the Passover.  Let’s all read v 13 “They left and found things just as Jesus had told them.  So they prepared the Passover.”

Now you might ask, so, did God prepare the Passover, or did the disciples Peter and John do it?  The answer to that question is Yes.  It was both.  There’s a story of our very own Peter Mugisa, when we were at a local diner, the waitress asked him, “Soup or Salad?” to which he replied, “Yes.”  The waitress gave him a puzzled look, and we all stayed silent enjoy the show.  It turns out Peter was thinking “Super Salad,” when the waitress was asking one or the other.  So it is with our lives of faith – is God’s will working out in our lives, or is it by our will which we do things?  And the answer is not one or the other, it’s both.  Phil 2:12-13 reads: “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and act according to his good purpose.

By faith the two disciples went out and obeyed what the Lord said, and they found everything just as Jesus had told them.  Who prepared the Passover?  God did, but he used Peter and John to carry out his will [and on a side note it is interesting to understand these were the top 2 disciples].  It’s by faith the God works through us, and it’s by faith our actions are the will of God. Heb 11:6 reads: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”  How do we have this kind of faith?  By earnestly seeking him.  And how can we earnestly seek him?  By remembering him.  And how can we remember him?  God has always provided the means, and the next part will explain both the old and the new ways by which He is remembered.

Part II: The Passing of the Old Passover

Can we read v. 14 and 15 together:  “When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table.  And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”  First, note: “When the hour came.”  We see God’s plans fulfilled over periods of hundreds of years, but his plans are detailed even to the hour.  This is the hour that was the culmination of all the Scripture, of all the prophecies, and all the scriptures.  The time was now that the Lamb would be led to the slaughter.  Yet despite this, this was the also the hour Jesus had been waiting for, and gladly, because it was his Father’s will. 

Again verse 15 says, “And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”  We see here that Jesus observed the law, he observed the ordinations and decrees God had set forth.  It was also a chance he could spend some quality time with those closest to him, as the demands of the public were increasing.  Moreover, Jesus eagerly desired to eat the Passover, and I think that is something we all should learn and imitate – to be as eager to desire to eat the Passover, which is now the Lord’s Supper.  This would indeed be the last Passover of the Old Covenant, as Jesus would establish the New Covenant very soon.

Look ahead to verse 20 for a minute: “In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’”  What was the Old Covenant, and the difference between the Old Covenant and the New?  The Old Covenant represented the Law, perhaps most notably the Day of Atonement where an annual sacrifice would be made for the sins of all the people.  Still though, sacrifices had to be offered continually for everything.  If you read through Hebrews, chapters 8-10, you’ll find that the law was just a shadow of the things to come.  Even the current Passover in Jesus’ day was just a shadow of God’s Passover Lamb.

The Old Covenant could not take away the guilt of the people, that’s why it had to be done annually and perpetually.  It was necessary, however, because the sin of the people required blood.  Everything was written in the law, and you would learn about it externally, from others or from writings.  The New Covenant, however, was completely different and far superior.  It was one sacrifice for all sins, for all men, for all time, and could take away the guilt of the people.  And no longer were understandings of the requirements of God external, but they became internal, for the people received a new heart and a new spirit (Eze 36:26). 

Jeremiah prophesies about this new covenant in Jer 31:33-34, which is also quoted in Heb 10: “’This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,’ declares the Lord.  ‘I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.  I will be their God, and they will be my people.  No longer will any man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,’ declare the Lord.   ‘For I will forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more.’”

The Old Covenant is passing away and making way for the new, and the old Passover is also giving way to the new.  Jesus says in verses 16 and 18: “For I tell you, I will not eat [the Passover] again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God…For I tell you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”  We also see these prophetic words carried out in history.  The old Passover required that the Passover lamb be brought to the Temple, but after the Temple was destroyed, they could no longer offer a Passover lamb for a meal.

In verses 14-20, we see the passing of the Old Passover, giving way to the establishment of the New Passover, which Jesus institutes.  Let’s all read v19-20 together: “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’”

This scene seems almost odd.  Jesus was the one who was going to suffer and die just hours from this meal – and by this point the meal has already completed.  Yet here is the Man himself who would experience the pain and death, giving thanks to God, and breaking the bread, symbolizing the breaking of his own body, and distributing it to his disciples.  Here we can see the incomprehensible love of our Lord, that he would be not only willing but glad to suffer heaven and earth’s worst pains for us.  The body of Jesus was his atonement, his substitutionary sacrifice for our own bodies.  He bore our sins on that cross, and gave himself for us (Gal 1:4).  It was his body that took God’s punishment in place of our own.

He tells his disciples to eat it in remembrance of him.  Here is the means which God has provided for us to remember him: it is the Lord’s supper.  It is a participation in the blood and body of Christ (I Cor 10:16), and application of his atoning sacrifice to our hearts, an acceptance of what he has done. 

The cup represents the new covenant in Jesus’ blood.  It was the blood of Jesus that made the atonement effective, it was the blood of Jesus that satisfied the righteousness of God, covered over our sins and cleansed us.  It was Jesus’ blood that washed away our sins.  It was his blood which brought forth the New Covenant, and made one sacrifice for sins for all men once and for all (Heb 10).  Jesus’ blood was poured out for you, it was poured out for me.

The Old Passover has passed, and Jesus has established the Lord’s Supper, the new means by which we remember the price which was paid by our Lord in order to save us from the wrath of God and deliver us from the grip of sin.  When we take the Lord’s supper, we can remember that God so loved us, he broke his Son’s body and poured out his Son’s blood, in order to save and sanctify us.  When we remember all the God had done for us, we will find ourselves drawn to him and eager to seek him. 

We are so forgetful, we are so sinful, that the Bible has to remind us several times in I Cor 15:1, John 14:26, 2 Tim 1:6, 2 Pet 1:12 – they all being with “I want to remind you…”  If we lose sight of God or neglect him, we run the risk of getting lost or confused, weighed down by the anxieties of life and backslide into our sins.  That is not to say we will not have trials, we will, but the remembrance of Christ provides us with strength to endure them.  We no longer need to sacrifice a lamb to remember his deliverance, but we can partake in the Lord’s Supper as often as we would like to remind our selves and remember what he has done.

Part III: The Proclamation of the New Passover

Look at verses 21-22: “But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table.  The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed, but woe to that man who betrays him.”  If symbolically breaking his own body and pouring out his own blood was not enough, he sat down and ate with the man who would betray him.  Yet, instead of trying to put a stop to all this by his own power, Jesus willingly and gladly accepted the will of God for him, knowing full well it meant excruciating pain and death.  In the midst of one of his darkest hours, he gave thanks for everything, for all of the cups of wine, for the bread and the meal, and loved his disciples to the end, teaching them the things that would bring them life – because it was his life he was imparting to them.

Jesus said, “The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed.”  As we saw, God has proclaimed his will through the prophets, through Zechariah, Jeremiah, Isaiah, David, all the way back to Genesis, where he promises in Gen 3:15b “he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”  God had prepared his own Passover Lamb to deliver the world from grip of sin.

Because of what God has done, the world is convicted of sin.  We see the disciples momentarily convicted in verse 23: “They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.”  They didn’t accuse or blame one another, but questioned themselves whether they might be the one betray the Lord.  It seemed everyone had an equal opportunity to betray Jesus, but there was only one man who seriously hardened his heart to the Lord. 

The world, however, is convicted of sin because Jesus came to this world, and gave his life for all men.  Before, people could use the excuse that there was no Savior, but after Jesus came, it was recorded in the Bible and spread by many witnesses that the Lord came and he died and he rose again.  Men now have no excuse except for deliberate unbelief (John 16:9).  But that’s why it’s even more important to proclaim what the Lord has done, so that people will repent.  And how can we proclaim the Lord’s death?  It is through the Lord’s Supper, provided to us by God.  I Cor 11:26 says, “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”  We must proclaim the good news to the world, and be witnesses to the gospel to all people.

Psalm 78:4-8 reads, “We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.  He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children.  Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.  They would not be like their forefathers – a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him.”  Let us tell our generation and the next of the praiseworthy deeds of our Lord, that they may repent of their unbelief.

The Lord has provided us with the means to remember what he has done.  We talked about how the Lord prepared his very own Passover Lamb, who was his one and only Son.  We talked about the passing of the old Passover, and the establishment of the Lord’s supper, and finally we talked about Proclaiming the New Passover – a decree set forth by God to be made known to all people of all nations. 

We are a forgetful, sinful people, and unless we consistently remind ourselves of the Lord and refresh our hearts, we begin to backslide and grow cold and stale.  For those of you who missed the Friday meeting, we learned about the 7 attributes of God: his sovereignty, his holiness, his omnipotence, his omniscience, his immutability, his wrath and his love, and I have to admit I was all at once humbled and amazed that God could be fully all of these things.  It was sobering to understand that, wow, what a sinner I truly am, to question the ways of God.

Earlier last week, I was convicted in spirit because my quiet time with the Lord became virtually non-existent.  I was still doing daily bread and reading the Bible briefly in the morning, but I had neglected to meditate and simply read through the Bible to take in the word of God as I used to.  God gave me such a disturbance of my soul, that I prayed, and turned to Psalms, and there I found what I had been missing – the knowledge of who God is.  I was reminded that the Lord would guide the steps of those who feared him (Ps 25), to be still and know that he is God (Ps 46:10), and that God is in heaven, and I am on earth, so let my words be few (Ecc 5:2).  I repented that I had lost sight of him and was at once given peace.  And also, yesterday, I did do my suggested reading of Hebrews Chapters 1-2, and I look forward to reading even more.  My spirit was refreshed to be reacquainted with God – let us not underestimate the importance of the remembrance of our Lord.

As we learned from this passage, verse 15 – Jesus eagerly desired to eat this Passover with his disciples.  I too, eagerly desire to eat the Passover during our worship service, and I hope we can someday soon observe the Lord’s Supper.  I Cor 12:28 says “A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.”  This would give us all a chance to examine ourselves before the Lord, purify our hearts, keep in repentance, and be reminded of the loving and precious sacrifice the Lord has made for us through the breaking of bread which was his body and the pouring of wine which was his blood.

May we be reminded often of the Lord, that we may truly seek to know him, so that we may have eternal life, as Christ defined it in John 17:3 “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”  There is no greater honor, privilege or duty than knowing the Lord – may we remember the Lord every day of our lives.

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