I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord! Amen.
In the name of Jesus, who gave himself for our salvation, dear disciples:
It was just another Sunday morning or so most of the worshipers thought as they kneeled before the altar and received the Lord’s Supper. But there was one man for whom this was as if he had entered heaven itself. It had only been a few weeks since the last time he communed at the same altar, but today he had a deep need for the sacrament. For some reason, something he had done as a teenager began to trouble him. He couldn’t escape the horrible grip of guilt. He would dream about it when he slept. He would think about it as he rolled and tossed on the sleepless nights. He was in the depths of agony. His sin kept accusing him and insisting that he was headed for hell. So finally there would be relief from sin and guilt. For here his dear Lord Jesus came to him with his body and blood. Here the Lord Jesus would say to him, “Take eat, this is my body. Take drink, this is my blood. Given and poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins.” The man’s heart immediately knew the comfort. He returned to the pew, sat down, and shed a tear – but this was a tear of joy! Heaven had been opened to him once again through the forgiveness of sins. This is the same comfort and peace that our dear Lord Jesus wants to give to each of us this evening. He is indeed the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. This sacrificial lamb gives us his own body and blood for our comfort and strength! So lean in and listen carefully to the words of our dear Lord. Tonight he comforts us through his soul nourishing meal. Behold the Lamb of God! Consider on this holy Thursday – The body and blood of the Lamb!
Here we find Jesus and his disciples in the Upper Room celebrating the Passover. We find them together on a night on which the forces of hell are raging. We find them together as the most important event in history is but hours away. The salvation of the world was at stake. Jesus was facing all sorts of pressure and temptation. But what does Jesus display most clearly at this hour of action? His love for sinners. He is facing his own death, the punishment of hell in being forsaken by God, the pain and agony, and the soul wrenching guilt. But still he is giving of himself for others. In the midst of the Passover meal commemorating God’s rescue of Israel from Egypt, Jesus institutes a new meal – a meal centered in his rescuing us from sin.
Jesus takes the unleavened bread from the table, blessed it, broke it, and said, Take it; this is my body. Then he took a cup of wine from the table, blessed it and passed around to them saying, This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many. We watch in solemn, speechless joy as the perfect Lamb of God gives the only thing he has to give – himself! This is the height of love! In this same room, on this same night Jesus said, “Greater love has no than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus did exactly what he said – in love he died for us! His love for us is truly great!
This meal is a part of the new covenant of grace. This is a one sided covenant. It is an agreement in which God promises what he will do. We need not do anything. He accomplishes 100% of our salvation – we contribute nothing. This Supper of our Lord is all about what he does for us. He gives his body and blood. He forgives our sins. He comforts our troubled hearts. He strengthens our weak faith. What a precious thing this supper is! What a great comfort for us sinners! This is a covenant signed and sealed in the blood of Jesus! This Supper assures us of God’s love and fills our hearts with certainty about forgiveness. Come and receive this great gift of God’s grace! Come find comfort and rest for your troubled and restless souls. Join Jesus at the table as he gives you his body and blood for the forgiveness of all your sins!
Yes, friends this is a meal of forgiveness. But haven’t we already spoken of that? Yes, to a degree. However, we have spoken about the fact that our forgiveness was won for Jesus in the past. We have also spoken about the impact his forgiveness has on our present with the removal of guilt. Yet, one thing remains – the future! Jesus says, I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God. This is a meal that gives us a glimpse or a taste of heaven!
This Supper of our Lord joins the present promise of forgiveness with a future promise of life in God’s kingdom. At this Supper Jesus is present. The Lamb that was slain for us says to us in all simplicity – Take eat, this is my body! Take drink, this is my blood poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins!
Where there is forgiveness of sins there is also life and salvation. That is precisely what we find in this Supper instituted by Christ. There is the comforting forgiveness of sins. There is miraculous strength to live a life of love and service. There is eternal life here also.
Can you imagine life without regret? Can you even dream of life without an ounce of guilt? Can you think of life without feeling bad about what you had said or done? Can you imagine life without anything bad happening? That’s what we get a small peek at in this Supper – the perfect life of love awaiting us in heaven! This Supper focuses our attention on what forgiveness of sins ultimately gives us – heaven.
We find ourselves living in the world somewhere between the fierce attacks of the devil in temptation and accusation and the perfect security of forgiveness in the Lamb of God. We are in the mix of this battle. We struggle. We fall victim. We are healed by God’s grace. WE get back up and back in the fray. We are part of the church militant that finds its life in the gospel in Word and Sacrament. We need this Supper to forgive, to assure, to strengthen. We also need this Supper to focus us on what Jesus has won for us. We need to have our focus directed beyond what we can see – to the eternal rest secured for us by Jesus. Friends, this Supper gets you thinking about sitting down at the heavenly banquet with Jesus!
The man had just been diagnosed with cancer – he would not survive. He called his Pastor. They talked. He received the Sacrament that day and once a week until that day when the Lord Jesus called him. Moments before he saw Jesus face to face he received the Lord’s Supper. He whispered, “Thank you! Now I’m ready to eat with Jesus!” He did that same day! He is still eating with Jesus at the heavenly banquet! That is in your future too – all because of Jesus – all because he gave himself into death. You are forgiven! Heaven is yours! Amen.