Summary: God calls us to always remember who He is and who we are to be as His children.
Text: Luke 22:19
On May 30, 1868, our country observed the first day memorializing those who had fallen in battle during the Civil War. It was called “Decoration Day” at that time. In the few short years following the Civil War dozens of local observances honoring fallen Civil War soldiers had sprung up in communities across the country. Most were done by decorating gravesites with flowers.
Although many cities claim the honor, the official birthplace of Memorial Day is Waterloo, New York. On May 5, 1868, General, John A. Logan, in his role as commander-in-chief of a veteran’s organization called The Grand Army of the Republic, introduced a proclamation that “Decoration Day” be observed nationally. On May 30 of the same year it was observed and the date was chosen specifically because it was not the anniversary of a battle.
The term “Memorial Day” was first used in 1882 and the observances were expanded to include all who had been lost in the time of war. The day became more widely observed following World War II and was declared a national holiday in 1967. The National Holiday Act of 1971 moved the official observance of Memorial Day to the last Monday in May.
So, this weekend and tomorrow in particular, hundreds of thousands of Americans will make pilgrimages to cemeteries to remember loved ones lost and decorate graves with flowers.
There are those who say that remembering is a principle spiritual exercise and in looking to the Word of God I would have to agree. Time and again the people of God are exhorted and commanded to remember. Over 100 times remembering or remembrances are mentioned in scripture. More than once God has instituted memorials so His people would remember: the rainbow (Genesis 9), the Passover (Numbers 9), the stones from the Jordan River (Joshua 4), numerous rituals and sacrifices, all given with the element of remembrance.
In our lesson today we will examine several times when our Lord dealt with the issue of remembrance.
A.The hypocrisy of the Pharisees.
1.Read Matthew 23:1 - 12
a.Having assumed the authority of the law (the seat of Moses) they forgot that made them servants and examples to the people.
b.They expected to be noticed. They relished the perks of their positions. They gave superficial attention to God’s desires in order to enjoy special privileges.
2.They had forgotten what was required of them and their behavior was exactly opposite from the expectations of God.
B.“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” v23
1.The fourth “woe” highlights the scribes’ and Pharisees’ memory lapse.
a.There is no evidence in God’s law demanding a tithe of cooking herbs or medicinal spices, although the Israelites would tithe agricultural products such as fruit (Leviticus 27:30; Deuteronomy 14:22).
b.But since these spices were edible, the scribes and Pharisees carried the law to its extreme and tithed even these small things.
c.Jesus did not condemn this practice, but he condemned their complete neglect of the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith.
2.The hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees lay in their careful obedience to the small details of the law while they forgot larger issues that were far more important, that being dealing correctly with other people and building a relationship with God.
3.It is possible to carefully meet certain details of God’s expectations but still be disobedient in our general behavior.
a.For example, we could be very precise and faithful about giving of our money to the church but refuse to give one minute of our time in helping others. Giving is important, but it does not exempt us from fulfilling God’s other directives.
b.The last phrase sums up all the “woes.” They ought to have practiced the weightier matters without neglecting others, such as giving, or assembling together, or service.
4.Jesus was not negating faithfulness to God’s law; rather, he was condemning a concern for minor details that forgot true obedience and discipleship.
II.The Lord’s Supper
Luke 22:19 (NASB) And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
A.“This is my body which is given for you…”
1.Jesus used literal terms to describe a figurative truth.
a.Just as he had so many times said, “I am” the door, the bread, the light, the vine, so the bread symbolized Jesus’ work of salvation on our behalf.
b.That his body would “be given” pictures the cross on which Jesus gave his body in death, allowing it to be sacrificed so that believers could receive life.
Philippians 2:6 - 8 (NASB) who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.