Summary: At the Last Supper, Jesus spoke out of the overflow of His heart, which had been building toward this moment.
Do you know what it is to overflow? When you overflow, maybe you say more than you intended to say. Your feelings ran ahead of your thoughts, and blam! There it is, you said it. And you can’t take it back. You spoke out of the overflow.
Or maybe when you overflow, you say less than you intended to say, not more but less, because your feelings are running so wide and so deep you cannot think straight. You cannot control your voice, you can’t get yourself together. When you speak out of the overflow, sometimes you just don’t get out what you really thought you wanted to say.
Speaking out of the overflow. Maybe it was an overflow of joy, like a father seeing his child for the first time. Our son celebrated his 36th birthday this Monday, and I still get a rush thinking about the overflow of joy I felt when he was born and we first brought him home. He doesn’t much like it when I talk about how I leaned over the bed and told a naked three-day old boy how much I loved him! But it was an overflow of joy!
Or maybe it was the overflow of relief, like the mother delivering that child. Those of us who are of the male persuasion will never know nor understand what it is like to give birth to a child, but I hear it can be rough. I understand it can be hard work. But when it is done, that mother who was crying in pain a while ago is now weeping with relief that it’s all over, the child is here. I haven’t heard a one suggest that it wasn’t worth it. The overflow of relief. We live out of the overflow.
Oh, it could be the overflow of excitement when something good happens; I get a kick out of watching winners on the “Wheel of Fortune” game show bounce and prance and hug their relatives. They can’t contain themselves when they get the big prize! And why should they? It’s good to live out of the overflow.
The overflow of joy, of relief, or excitement. Or maybe the overflow of sorrow. I tell you, on those Sunday mornings when it is my sad duty to announce someone’s death to the congregation, I will have mentally rehearsed what I am going to say, I will have jotted down the date and time and place of the funeral. I’m ready. Except that I’m not ready. When it is time actually to say the words, I choke up. I can’t do it coolly, dispassionately. I overflow. I speak out of the overflow.
The overflow is what comes out of your heart. More than you intended to say, or less than you intended to say, but what comes out of your heart, out of your core and your center. That inner side, that real you speaks. It’s not calculated, it’s not manipulated, it’s not politically massaged – frankly, I like it when presidential candidates speak off the cuff. Even though they may mangle the language and say silly things like Dan Quayle’s “It’s a terrible thing to have a mind to waste”, still you find out who they really are. Not the products of their speechwriters. I want them to speak out of the overflow.
When Jesus stood before His own in that Upper Room, I am confident that He spoke out of the overflow of His heart. I do not see a calculated, planned speech. I do not see a carefully honed lesson. I see a man whose hour has now come, and He is very full. He is very full. Jesus is overflowing, and it’s about His companions. It’s about them and it’s about us. All of us. His heart overflows for us.
Jesus spoke out of the overflow as He created a covenant experience there. If you know something of the Passover liturgy, you can see fragments of it in what the Gospels report, but you can see more as well. You can see Jesus creating something new, adding to the sacred words. Nowhere in the Passover liturgy was there a place to say, “This is my body.” Yes, there were references to the Passover lamb and the unleavened bread eaten by Israel in Egypt. But this, “This is MY body” – that’s new. That’s Jesus speaking out of the overflow to create a fresh experience for His own. Yes, there were many references to cups of wine and to the blood of lambs in the Passover ritual, but this, “This is MY blood of the covenant” – this is new. This is Jesus living into the moment, speaking out of His very heart, for them. For them. They may not have understood it, intellectually, but they understood it, emotionally, spiritually. Jesus spoke that night as one whose destined hour had come, and He must – He must – do the Father’s bidding. “For this cause came I into the world.” This is it. This is NOW.