Summary: Our Savior invites us to partake of his body and blood at his table as a proclamation of the forgiveness that is ours made possible through his death.
Maundy Thursday was a significant day in the life of our Savior. Many important things happened in Jesus’ life on this evening. On the first Maundy Thursday Jesus prayed to his Father so intensely that his sweat was as drops of blood. On this night our Savior was betrayed by Judas with a kiss. This is the evening where Jesus would stand on trial before the Sanhedrin - a trial that was illegal by Jewish standards because it was being held at night. On this evening Jesus was deserted and abandoned. He was left all alone - even Peter didn’t stay with him. Instead Peter denied even knowing Jesus three times in the courtyard of the high priest. This night was the beginning of the end for our Savior.
As we gather here this evening all of these things are things that we undoubtedly consider as we ponder the passion history of our Lord. But there is something even more special, even more significant about this evening that prompts us to gather together. We have come to carry out Christ’s new command. On Maundy Thursday evening Jesus gathered with his disciples in the upper room in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover meal with them. On that evening as he washed their feet in preparation for the celebration of the Passover he gave them that new command. He told them to "Love one another as he had loved them."
To show them the depth of his love and to empower them to go forth into the world and love, he instituted His special Supper. This special supper was a fulfillment of the Passover meal. The Passover meal was one of remembrance. This meal remembered God’s mercy to his people in the land of Egypt. God showed his mercy by commanding those Israelites to sacrifice an unblemished, year-old lamb and place its blood on their doorframes. That evening as the angel of death passed through the Egyptian countryside those whose doors were covered with the lamb’s blood, their first-born sons’ lives were spared. God commanded from that time on that the Passover meal be celebrated as a remembrance of his mercy.
This Passover meal not only remembered things of the past, but it also pointed ahead to the one who would shed his blood for the world so that their lives might be spared eternally. The fulfillment of this meal is found in Jesus Christ himself. Since Christ was the fulfillment of this meal it was no longer to be celebrated. In its place Christ instituted a new meal - one that believers are to celebrate until Christ returns again. This evening, our Lord invites us to celebrate this meal, a meal that shows us His love for us and empowers us to
love in the way that He loved us. He invites us to Come to His Table. Come to his table having examined yourselves. Come to His Table to receive his Supper. Come to his table to proclaim his death.
Our Lord through the Apostle Paul invites us to come to his table having examined ourselves. We are urged to examine ourselves with the stern warning that the Apostle Paul issues in verses 27 and 28 of the text. He warns and encourages us to examine ourselves before we come to the Lord’s table. He encourages us to examine our own lives. We should examine our lives and compare them with the standard of God’s Law. We need to ask ourselves those hard questions about ourselves. Have I loved the Lord with all my heart, with all my soul, and with all my mind? Have I put him as top priority in my life? Have I loved my neighbor as myself? These are our Lord’s commands. Have we lived up to them?
If we’re truthful with ourselves we must all confess that we haven’t lived up to our Lord’s commands. We haven’t always been the best employer or employee. We haven’t always been the best son or daughter, brother or sister, husband or wife, father or mother. We haven’t always given our Lord top priority in our lives. We haven’t always loved our God and others the way Christ loved us. Before we come to the Lord’s table we need to recognize our incredible shortcomings. We need to confess our sinfulness to Him.
Before we come to the Lord’s Table we need to examine our desire or our intentions for coming to his table. As we come to his table we come with repentant hearts. We come to the Lord’s Table to receive the forgiveness of sins. That is what our Lord desires of those who approach his Table. He wants them to come before him with hearts weighed heavy by the guilt of sin. Our Lord wants us to come to his Table looking for peace for our souls. He wants us to come with penitent hearts that have sought the forgiveness of those whom we have sinned against. He wants us to come to him with penitent hearts seeking his forgiveness. Our desire for forgiveness is what motivates us to come to the Lord’s Table.