Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pastor David Lewellyn

 

Follow the Leader!

Part 14The Lords Supper

Opening:

          Every year my wife and I have a wedding anniversary. It comes every year. It never misses. One of my huge fears is that one of these years I’m going to forget my wedding anniversary. I have it written on every calendar I own. I don’t want to forget. It’s too important. Has anyone here ever forgotten their anniversary?

          The ironic thing about forgetting a wedding anniversary is that the very nature of celebrating an anniversary is to remember. It’s a time you and your spouse remember the commitments you made to each other on your wedding day. It’s a time to remember your love for one another.

          How many couples out there like to celebrate their anniversary separate from each other? That would be silly. Anniversaries are a time when we remember together.

          We are going to look today at communion. Communion is something God gave us to help us remember what he did for us when he gave his life on the cross. But we don’t remember alone. Jesus is with us. When we take communion we, together with Jesus, remember his faithfulness to save us when we were in our deepest need. That’s what we are going to talk about today. Remembering God who gave his life for us when we were in our greatest need. Let’s begin by praying.

 

Prayer:

          Jesus, as we take time to remember how you saved us, we know you are present. So help us today. Help us grow to know you more. Help us to grow in our appreciation of you. Help us to live lives that are more pleasing to you every day. Help us to do this, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Greeting:

 

What is something you do to help you remember important things?

 

Announcements:

          Please, take out your programs. There are a few things I want to draw your attention to.

 

1. Ethiopia Trip.

 

2. Reveal Survey

450 of you have already taken this survey. Thank you. We need 350 more in order to get a good representation of our Church. Whose church is this? 30-45 minutes. Anonymous.

 

3. Baptism Class

If you are a Christian and have not yet been baptized, I want to encourage you to do so. We will be having an opportunity for you to be baptized on November 11. If you interested in this, you can get information at the information center. The baptism class will be next week during each of the service.

 

4. Revive Report

 

Introduction:

          Today, we are going to be reading about the Lord’s Supper. During this meal, Jesus instructs his followers to eat and drink the bread and cup in remembrance of him. We are going to take some time, for those of us who are followers of Christ, to do that together at the end of the service, so I’ve asked to move our time of singing to the end. We are going to begin with the talk.

 

          As we begin, I’m going to ask the ushers to come and receive today’s offering. Thank you for your generosity as you give.

 

          Throughout the summer, and now into the fall we have been working our way through Mark’s gospel. The last several times we have been together in the book of Mark, we have specifically been looking at the last week of Jesus’ life.

          Where we pick up today, Jesus has already predicted his own death. He’s made his triumphal entry on the back of a donkey amidst shouts of hosanna. He’s cleared the temple of the money changers, who were looking to make money off those who came to worship. He’s been involved in a series of conflicts with religious leaders looking to trap him, causing them to hate him even more. He’s observed the small, two coin offering of a widow whom he said gave more than all the other offerings combined. The religious leaders have been plotting how to kill Jesus slyly so they will not be blamed for causing any political trouble. Jesus has been anointed by a woman with perfume. Jesus said it was to prepare him for his burial, once again eluding to the fact that he will die soon. Judas has decided in his heart to betray Jesus and turn him over to the religious leaders who are looking to kill him. Jesus life is in danger and it will not be long until he is dead. That is where we pick up today.

          As we study today’s scripture, we will be using the SOAP method. This is the method we have been using throughout this series and it’s a method many of us use in our daily time with Jesus through PBJ or prayer, Bible, and journal.

 

Scripture: Read the Bible.

Observation: What does it mean?

Application: What does it mean to me?

Prayer: Pray it back to God.

 

          This is a great time to encourage you to be spending daily time with Jesus. It would be hard to have a deep relationship with someone if you never spent any time with them. It is the same way with Jesus. It is great that we come together on a Sunday to meet and study God’s word, but you also need time alone with him. PBJ is a great way to spend time with Jesus! Give it a shot. Start today!

          I’m going to read through today’s story in Mark 14 and then make some observations about it. After we look at what it says, we are going to end with the application–what we should do with what we learn today.

          Here’s the big idea:

 

The Big Idea: Jesus gave his life for sinners; Jesus gave his life for you.

 

Scripture:

Mark 14:12-31

                12 On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

          13 So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. 14 Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15 He will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.”

          16 The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

          17 When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18 While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.”

          19 They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely not I?”

          20 “It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me. 21 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”

          22 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”

          23 Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it.

          24 “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. 25 “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.”

          26 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

          27 “You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written:

 

          “ ‘I will strike the shepherd,

                   and the sheep will be scattered.’

 

28 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

          29 Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.”

          30 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”

          31 But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.

 

Observation:

          At this point in the story, it is the time of Passover. Passover is a celebration remembering God’s deliverance of the Israelites from the slavery of Egypt. Moses led the people out of Egypt with the help of some plagues. In preparation for the tenth and final plague, Moses instructed the Israelites to mark the top and sides of their doors with the blood of a lamb.      That night the angel of death went through the country killing the first born of whomever did not cover their home with the blood, but he passed over the homes of those who did. It was after this plague that Pharaoh finally allowed Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.

          Jewish people celebrated passover every year after in remembrance of God saving them from Egyptian slavery, and in anticipation of him saving them once again with the coming of the messiah.

          Jesus and his disciples are on their way to Jerusalem where they will participate in the Passover celebration like many fellow Jews. Jerusalem would be crowded. People came from all over to celebrate Passover in Jerusalem.

          The religious leaders are looking for a way to kill Jesus, and Judas has already resolved to partner with them by turning Jesus over. Because of this, Jesus is being careful about where he will have Passover. It is not quite time for him to die. Although that time is coming quickly.

          We see here that Jesus is in ultimate control of his last moments here on earth. He is not spinning out of control, caught in a series of events that will eventually lead to his death. Rather, he is staying the course he has chosen in accordance to God’s plan. A choice to give his life for the redemption of mankind. 

          Jesus’ disciples ask him where they should go to prepare to eat Passover. He chooses two disciples, whom Luke tells us in his gospel are Peter and John, and sends them ahead to Jerusalem. He gives them instructions on what to do to prepare the passover meal for him and his followers.

          Jesus intentionally limits the number of people who will know the time and place where Passover will be held for the group. The fact that there are people looking to kill Jesus, probably accounts for why his plan seems a little undercover. He is not interested, at this point in time, in letting all of Jerusalem know where he will be staying. He is keeping himself from his enemies, at least for a little while. Keeping his whereabouts secret was quite a bit classier than putting on a fake mustache and wig as a disguise.

          He informs Peter and John that they will find a man carrying a jar of water and he is going to lead them to the room where they can prepare Passover. A man carrying a jar of water would be an odd site to them, because this was normally the job of a woman. It would be much like you holding your wife’s purse while she steps into the store for a minute–people see you.

          Whether these arrangements were planned by Jesus or known to him by divine foreknowledge, both point to the fact that Jesus is in control of the events of his last moments on earth. As I’ve already mentioned, Jesus had previously predicted his death. He knew this is what he came to do, and it was going to be done perfectly and on his terms. This is important because we serve a God who gave his life for us. Not one whose life was taken from him. It was an extreme and selfless act of love.

          Let’s look at verses 17-21.

         

Mark 14:17-21

          17 When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18 While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.”

          19 They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely not I?”

          20 “It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me. 21 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”

 

          Under the cover of evening, Jesus arrives in Jerusalem at the place where he and the twelve will share the passover meal. This will be Jesus final gathering with the twelve and he has some important stuff to say.

          The passover celebration is divided into four parts. The eating of the feast is not until the third part, several hours into the passover meal. Jesus and Judas had been in the same room for the last several hours both knowing that the time of betrayal was coming.

          ILL: Have you ever been in a room with someone and known something about them that others present didn’t know? I don’t think I’ve ever been in a room with someone whom I’ve known something bad about, but I have been in a room where there is a secret.

          My wife is currently 23 weeks pregnant with our second daughter. You wouldn’t know by looking at her! When we first found out we were going to have another baby, we decided to wait to let our friends and family know until after the first trimester.

          On the way out of one of her first doctors appointments, in the waiting room stood one of our friends, who was also pregnant, waiting for her appointment. This couple is also in our Life Group. The secret was out. They knew.

          The next week at Life Group was funny. They were the only people in the world, beside me and my wife, who knew our exciting news. They kept passing knowing glances at us throughout the evening. We would get nervous that others were going to find out. There was a fun and friendly tension as we kept this secret.

          Jesus is now sharing a meal with someone who keeps a secret. There was tension. This tension, however, was not fun and friendly. Jesus was going to be betrayed by one of his closest friends, and he knew it. How this must have weighed on his heart. How could Jesus enjoy the Passover celebration with this burden?

          Jesus decides to give Judas one more chance to change his mind. One more chance to do the right thing. He calls him out. He does so with out isolating him. He says, “one of you will betray me–one who is eating with me.” Judas heart must have beat out of his chest. Jesus knows! Really, everyone present must have experienced a quick heart check.

          ILL: You know that feeling you get when someone comes up to you and says, “You and I need to talk?” Your mind begins to race with all the bad things you have ever done in your whole life, beginning with the time you cut in line at elementary school.

          This must have been a similar feeling the disciples were having. “Could it be me?” They would think. “He can’t be talking about me.” They were sad.

          Jesus tells them it is one of the twelve. Not just some nominal follower of Christ, but one of those who is most close to him. Jesus warns the betrayer. I am going to accomplish what I have come here to accomplish. I am going to give my life. But there is still time for you. Don’t betray me. It would be better that you were not born than to betray me.

          Jesus is now speaking and pleading with his enemy. Not because it will spare Jesus from the cross, that has already been decided, but because it will spare Judas. He does not have to be the betrayer. Jesus extends a hand of love to the one who will within hours betray him. This is the heart of God. Loving sinners even to the last minute!

          Jesus, in the midst of treachery, moves into a proclamation of his love for all mankind. Let’s look at verses 22-26

 

Mark 14:22-26

          22 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”

          23 Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it.

          24 “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. 25 “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.”

          26 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

         

          Throughout the Passover feast, Jesus would have been leading his disciples through each of the four parts. In the feast, everything had symbolic meaning. The meal was designed to help remember God freeing his people from slavery in Egypt. It is a story of redemption. The bitter herbs recalled the bitterness of slavery, the salt water represented the tears and sweat of the enslavement, the wine represented God’s promises of redemption. Everything means something. The disciples would have been familiar with the symbols as well as the story of the exodus. It was a story they knew since they were kids. How wonderful if must have been for them to have Jesus lead them through the teaching of Passover.

          Jesus does an interesting thing when he begins to hand out the bread. Instead of giving the traditional teaching, he changes it. He makes it about himself. Jesus says, this is my body. Then Jesus serves the wine and he says, this is my blood. Jesus takes this very sacred feast in remembrance of God and he makes it about himself. This would be something the disciples would have immediately noticed.  He’s changing the story!

          The focus is no longer on the suffering of Israel in Egypt, but on the sin-bearing and suffering of Jesus on their behalf.

          Jesus is saying when he gives the bread, this is my life. I’m giving it for you. If you take it, you can share in my life.

          When Jesus talks about the wine, he says it is the blood of the covenant poured out for many. He says, I am making you clean before God with the pouring out of my own blood. Both of these things are representative of what Jesus will do in just hours on the cross. His body will be broken and his blood will be poured out. This is the beginning of what we call communion.

          The feast of passover was in remembrance of God rescuing the people of Israel. There was a lamb that was slain so the people who were covered by the blood would be spared. This Passover meal was to help them remember that God had rescued them and the lamb had died instead.     Now, as Jesus is sharing this Passover meal with his disciples he let’s them know, God is getting ready for an even greater rescue!

          Jesus was saying, just as the passover lamb died, so now I will die instead of you. I will take away your sins with my blood. Luke tells us in his Gospel that Jesus told them to take this meal, communion, in remembrance of Him. He says, whenever you eat or drink, remember, “I’ve rescued you! This is how God would rescue the world. This is how God would rescue you!

          Jesus is going to give his life on the cross for those men at that table. Jesus is going to give his life on the cross for you and me, and for all mankind. Rescued. And he left for us this symbol of communion to help us remember that wherever we gather to eat, he is their in our midst.

          This is what we are saying when we celebrate communion. We are saying that we participate in the death of Jesus. We identify with it. He died so we don’t have to. It is something we do in community. We declare that it is the thing we have in common. We are saved by Jesus. We do this in remembrance of him. We believe that God has given us communion as a symbol. Something we partake in to remember his sacrifice for us–his rescue. I love that Jesus chooses something so simple and prevalent as bread and drink. Whenever you eat or drink, remember what he has done for you. We are going to take some time together at the end of service to take communion together.

          This story begins with Jesus saying, “one of you will betray me…” and it ends with Jesus saying, “You will all fall away.” Let’s read on.

 

Mark 14:27-31  

          27 “You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written:

 

          “ ‘I will strike the shepherd,

                   and the sheep will be scattered.’

 

28 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

          29 Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.”

          30 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”

          31 But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.

 

          Sandwiched in between the betrayal of Judas and the promise that all the disciples will fall away and abandon Jesus, is his telling them that he is giving his life for them. That he will rescue them. This is beautiful imagery.

          ILL: When are people most easy to love? When they love you back, right? The incredible thing about Jesus is he loved us when we were at our most unloveable. He doesn’t love us in a way like, “I’m glad I’m not like them!” He loves us in a way that he wants to make us more like him. It is no coincidence that Mark places this story of Jesus commitment to those he loves in the middle of their falling away.

 

Romans 5:8

8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

 

          Judas knew he was a traitor, yet Peter and the other disciples denied that they would fall away. For both of these, Jesus was going to give his life.

          Maybe you can identify with Judas, you know you have betrayed God. You know you have lived in a way that is not pleasing to him. You know you are far from him. Or maybe you identify with Peter and the other disciples. You think you are okay. You haven’t really done anything to displease Jesus. You are a good person, not like Judas. The Bible tells us, Jesus pursues us the same. Those who recognize their need for Jesus, and those who do not. The Bible tells us that we are in the same amount of need to be rescued. We both need to turn from our unrighteousness and we both have unrighteousness.

 

Romans 3:23

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

 

          We have all fallen short of God’s glory. None of us has lived a life apart from Christ that can please God. We are in desperate need of a savior! The great news is that Jesus is pursuing us in the middle of our unrighteousness, in the middle of our sin. Our response needs to be to turn from our sin, and turn to Jesus. He is the only one who can save us.

          Jesus tells the disciples that after he rises he will go ahead of them and meet them in Galilee. He knows that they will fall away after he dies, but he will continue pursuing them. This is the beautiful message of Jesus.

          He gave himself so you could be made righteous. In the middle of your most sinful state, God gave himself for you. This is what we remember when we take communion.

 

Application:

          So, What is the application for today? I think it is for us to participate in communion. That brings to mind a question: Who can participate in communion? The answer is simple. Those who are in need. Jesus shared the first communion with those who would betray him. You do not have to be good enough to take communion. God’s grace cannot be earned.

          In order to truly participate in Communion however, you do need to be a follower of Jesus. Someone who has turned from their sins and began to follow Jesus. The beautiful thing is that Christ died for you so you can share this life with him, a life that is represented in communion. If you want to begin that life today and take communion truly for the first time, all you have to do is believe in your heart that Jesus is God and he died for your sins. As you turn to Jesus you are saying that you need him to rescue you. All you have to do is cry out to him and you will be saved.

          As we take communion together today, let’s remember that it is Christ that we have in common. Let’s remember that Christ conquered the grave and is with us. Let’s remember that Jesus gave his life for us.

 

Worship/Communion:

Prayer:

 

Closing:

The Big Idea: Jesus gave His life for sinners; Jesus gave His life for you!