Summary: Short Sermon on the thoughts of the Great Commission and The Eucharist in preparation for the observance of the Bread and Cup during our morning worship service.
Holy Communion in the Midst of the Great Commission
How do we find the hallowed sacrament or sacred ordinance of Holy Communion (or more widely known as the Eucharist) find itself in the midst Jesus’ Great Commission to His disciples? Why would I make such a statement as found in the title of this morning’s sermon topic? Have I finally flipped my lid and just thinking out loud or is there some credence in my spiritual application of Jesus’ words in both the establishment of the Last Supper and then the issuing of this last commandment as presented to His followers just a short time prior to His ascension?
If you would be as so kind to give me a few minutes to elaborate on this issue at hand, just maybe I might be able to make myself a little more clear. Consequently, if you grant me your undivided attention for a few moments I will do my best to present my findings from a recent study I did concerning this spiritual churning of my mind as I looked at this morning’s two scripture text in tandem.
As we all know, Jesus had just recently been arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, tried unjustifiably before Pilate, horribly beaten to a pulp and then crucified cruelly upon a cross on the outskirts of Jerusalem. A few of His disciples, those that had been brave enough to stick around, His mother and some of her closest friends, as well as a wealthy man by the name of Joseph had removed His body from the cross and buried the remains in a nearby tomb. That of course was not the end of the story.
After being dead for three days a few of Jesus’ lady followers made their way to the tomb to anoint the body with aloe and herbs. In their haste to bury Him they had forgotten this process and wanted to give it a proper burial.
Their only fear was as to who would assist them in removing the large stone that had be rolled in front of the entrance to the tomb. It had been placed there to assure that Jesus’ disciples would not attempt to steal His body and then falsely declare that He had risen from the dead, just as He had predicted. Along with this sealed crypt were soldiers to assure that no one or no group of persons would make such an attempt.
As the women approached the area of the garden in which the tomb was found they continued to discuss their fearfulness. Taking these steps of faith they suddenly felt the earth tremble beneath their feet. They held on to their belongings as tight as they could as not to drop them along the pathway. After gathering themselves they proceeded cautiously toward their task.
When they finally neared the entrance of the tomb they noticed a very strange thing had happened. The huge boulder that had once stood in its opening was rolled to one side and the guards that had been placed there were missing. Mary Magdalene made her way into the tomb first and the other ladies followed close behind. To their surprise the body of Jesus was gone.
To the one end of the place where they had just a few day earlier laid Jesus’ body were the burial cloths that had bound it. Neatly folded and laying on the top was the linen napkin that had been placed over Jesus face. At the other end sat a heavenly being, an angel which immediately spoke to them: “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you” [Matthew 28:5b-7].
A few weeks later we find Jesus right where the angel said the disciples would find Him; Galilee. After having an early morning breakfast with them, there along the shoreline of the lake, Jesus once again attempts to teach these wandering souls a few more of His spiritual truths. I am sure this time listening a little more intently to what He has to say than they had during their previous lessons.
Even hours before His ascension back to His heavenly Father, Jesus continued His teaching and took time to give them a very important command. We know it more as the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” [Matthew 19-20a].