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Rev.

Charles Lehmann + Maundy Thursday + Matthew 26:17-30

In the Name of + Jesus. Amen


This is not the sort of Passover that the disciples signed up
for. They were looking forward to a nice cozy retelling of the Old
Testament stories, some lamb, and maybe a little horseradish on
the side.
But all that’s missing when we read what the Scriptures say
about this night. We never hear about a lamb or bitter herbs or a
recounting of the story of Exodus. We have Jesus, and we have the
Twelve. We have a warning of betrayal. We have the drama of
Judas leaving under cover of darkness.
But where is the Lamb? Where is the one whose sacrifice
will cover the sins of the family for the coming year? You won’t
find a lamb mentioned in Matthew, Mark, Luke, or in the Apostle
Paul. Fluffy appears to be missing. And how, dear Christians, can
there be a Passover without a Lamb?
And what about this Man. He’s saying, “Take, eat this is
my body.” Now that’s wondrous strange. But it offers an
interesting possibility, doesn’t it? Could it be? Could it be that the
Lord Himself is the Lamb? Could it be that at this meal He is the
host, the waiter, the chef, and the main course?
Yes, dear Christian. It could. It could be that that is just the
sort of Lord you have. The Passover is ended forever. No more
will a little sheep atone for the sins of the family. The true Lamb,
the Lamb of God, is going to the cross to be slain for the sins of
God’s family forever. And so there’s your Lamb, dear Christians.
He’s the one talking. He’s the one giving His body to eat and His
blood to drink.
The Lord speaks. We listen. That is the way with the Lord.
No negotiation. No asking the Lord to give us His Words in
another way. No looking at the gift and saying to Jesus, “Oh, no…
I don’t think so. You see, Lord. It couldn’t really be that way.
Have a go with these words.”
No, the Lord will not have do with what we try to push on
Him. Instead, we have to make do with His Words. He’s spoken
them, and when the Lord speaks, well… that’s something. Stars
start shining. Planets appear. Comets streak across the sky.
Babies are born in feeding troughs.
So, no, we don’t ask the Lord for different words because
we don’t like the ones He’s given us. No… we don’t look into the
words of Scripture and say, “Jesus couldn’t have meant that.
That’s disgusting.” No. None of that. It won’t do at all.
The Lord speaks. We listen. He says, “Take, eat. This is
my body.” He says, “Drink of it all of you. This is my blood of
the New Testament.” If we’re listening to the Lord’s Words, then
we’re believing them too. Not believing is not hearing, and not
hearing is not listening. If any word, dear Christians, is in Christ,
it’s a new creation. The old has gone. The new is come.
And so when we look at the loaf, it looks like bread. When
we sniff the wine, it smells like fermented grapes. But it won’t do
for us to throw that wisdom in the Lord’s face. “Is,” dear friends,
is a glorious word. The bread is the Lord’s body. The wine is the
Lord’s blood. The wine and the bread are there, surely, Paul tells
us that. But the Apostle has listened to the Lord’s words, and so he
teaches us the truth: Where the bread, there the Lord’s body.
Where the wine, there the Lord’s blood.
Sadly, some Christians don’t listen. They debate with the
Lord. They tell Him that He can’t mean what He’s actually saying.
The gift is more than they can bear. The Lord’s body in their
mouth and the Lord’s blood passing their lips seems perverse to
them, and so they make the Lord’s Supper into something less than
it is. It’s a symbol. Jesus isn’t really there, they say. The bread
represents the Lord’s body and the wine represents his blood.
When they come to what they call the Lord’s Supper they say, “Oh,
Lord… we’re glad to celebrate your Supper today. But isn’t it a
pity? You’re unavoidably detained in heaven and won’t be able to
attend.”
But the Lord didn’t say represents. The meaning of His
Words is plain enough. “Is” means “is.” The Lord’s Word is sure,
even though we like chaff can blow away. Our disgust at this can
lead us astray. It can send us all over the Gospels trying to find a
way to take the “is” out of “is.” We can find analogies, metaphors,
and similes and then say, “See, it must be like these, because Jesus
couldn’t possibly mean what He said. That would be nonsense.”
But we can’t do that, dear Christians. From the very
earliest moments in the church, and even in 1 Corinthians, we have
the Lord’s Words confessed to mean exactly what they sound like
they mean. We must let our reason lie crucified at the foot of our
Lord’s cross.
This is the blood of the New Testament which is poured out
for you for the forgiveness of your sins. And though we throw
around that word “Testament” all the time, we don’t think about it
very much do we. But most of you have Testaments, and I’m not
talking about your bible. I’m talking about the other Testament…
the one that’s in a shoe box at home or in safe storage at the bank.
Your “Last Will and Testament.”
The Lord has signed His Last Will and Testament in His
own body and His own blood. He has given you His Supper as a
surety of the gifts He has won for you on the cross. You can’t
inherit the Lord’s gifts unless the Lord dies. There is no blood of
the new testament without the blood of the cross. And so, dear
Christian, the blood of the new testament, the blood which the
Lord’s very words declare will be in that cup on the altar, that
blood was shed for you when Jesus went to the cross, suffered, and
died there. He did it all for the forgiveness of your sins and to give
you life and salvation. That life is guaranteed. Even as the Lord is
risen from the dead, so shall you rise and live to all eternity.
And now you are an heir of life. He has given His life for
you, and now His life is yours. And this is never more tangible,
more sure, or more certain when you stick to the Lord’s Words.
The Lord speaks. We listen. He says, “Eat. Drink. It is
My Body and My Blood, given for you, for the forgiveness of
sins.” And now that, dear Christians, leaves us with very little to
say, but I have a suggestion. “Amen, Lord Jesus. I have received
the gift you have given. It is your body, given for me. It is your
blood, shed for me. I am forgiven. I am free.”
And you are, people loved by God. You are forgiven. You
are free. You are bodied and blooded together by your very Lord’s
body and your very Lord’s blood. You receive the Giver when you
receive His gifts.
Praise to you O Lord for your holy condescension. Praise
to you O Lord for coming to us by the humble elements of bread
and win. Praise to you O Lord for giving us your body to eat and
your blood to drink.
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy
Spirit.