Maundy Thursday is the name given to the day on which Jesus celebrated the Passover with His disciples, known as the Last Supper.
The word “Maundy” is derived from the Latin word for “command.” The “Maundy” in Maundy Thursday refers to the command Jesus gave to the disciples at the Last Supper, that they should love and serve one another.
Our service this evening is a communion service, the Apostle Paul reminds us that we need to examine ourselves before we take communion.
And we need to be honest with ourselves and honest with God.
Tonight we are going to look at three brief passages from Luke Chapter 22 that describe some of the events of that Thursday evening.
The first is simply a reminder of what happened as Jesus sat eating with His disciples,
Then we will spend a few moments considering that Thursday night from the perspective of the Apostle Peter.
Our first reading is from Luke 22:14-23
14When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
17After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
19And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
20In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. 21But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. 22The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed, but woe to that man who betrays him.” 23They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.
When we see an apparently strong Christian face a spiritual defeat, we tend to think, “I would have expected that to happen to anyone but him.”
The Apostle Peter was a person of strength.
He had strength of leadership. Whenever the disciples are listed, Peter’s name comes first, reflecting the disciples’ view of his leadership.
Peter was one of the inner circle of disciples privileged to share in special experiences with Jesus, such as the transfiguration.
On the Day of Pentecost it was Peter who stood to preach.
Peter was a person with a Strength of spirit.
Peter had no timid spirit.
He was a bold spiritual adventurer.
Once he tried to walk on water, and later he ran to the tomb.
Peter was a person with strength of body.
As a fisherman Peter had developed his muscles by rowing boats and casting heavy nets.
He showed his physical strength in the garden;
he was strong enough to take on the entire mob.
In spite of all these qualities, Peter denied the Lord. “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Cor. 10:12 NIV).
Let’s read the second passage in Luke,
Luke 22:31-34. 31”Peter, Peter, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. 32But I have prayed for you, Peter, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
33But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
34Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”
Peter was a strong individual, a great leader,
a dynamic Christian.
But Peter was vulnerable to sin.
He was blind to his weakness.
Peter, a typical human, had strengths and weaknesses, but he seemed to be blind to his weaknesses. Peter confidently told the Lord, “I am ready to go with you to prison and to death”
This was a noble expression and a wonderful assurance— apparently uttered in ignorance of his fleshly potential for succumbing to sin’s temptation.
It was Victor Hugo who wrote, “I feel two men struggling within me.”
The apostle Paul also had a realistic view of the tension between good and evil that rages in every soul: “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing...I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:19, 23-24NIV)
Satan prefers to attack the vulnerable spot.
He looks for the gap in the armour.
Jesus warned Peter of Satan’s impending attack: “Satan has asked to sift you as wheat”
The evil one caught the strong disciple in a vulnerable moment—surrounded by the enemy and separated from the other disciples.
He will sift us until he finds the most vulnerable place at which to hurl his temptation.
“Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12 NIV).
Jesus taught us to pray for deliverance from the evil one (Matt. 6:13).
For Peter that Thursday night there was a pressure to conform.
What was the vulnerable spot for Peter?
He let himself be guided by those around him.
A healthy concern for what others think is an asset. But Peter went beyond concern and allowed his actions to be moulded by those around him.
A dialogue between Jesus and Peter, recorded in Matthew 16, illustrates this. Jesus was talking about his coming rejection and death when Peter strongly reacted, “Never, Lord!... This shall never happen to you!” (v. 22 NIV) .
Peter’s concept of the Messiah did not include Jesus as the Suffering Servant.
Instead, Peter subscribed to the popular concept of the victorious Messiah conquering the Romans and re-establishing the throne of David.
Jesus rebuked him: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men”
It’s late on Thursday evening, the disciples are with Jesus in the Garden, yet Peter falls asleep while the Jesus is praying.
The Roman soldiers approach the Lord to arrest him, Peter shows remarkable courage by drawing a sword and cutting off the ear of one of the soldiers, but then the Lord is led away we see Peter following at a distance....staying out of sight, staying in the shadows.
Let’s look at Luke 22:54-62
54Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. 55But when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them.
56A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.”
57But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said.
58A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.”
“Man, I am not!” Peter replied.
59About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.”
60Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. 61The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” 62And he went outside and wept bitterly.
Peter shows a real lack of discernment, and wisdom by what he does.
First he kept his distance as he followed the Lord and those who had arrested him.
Then Peter comes and sits himself down next to the enemies of the Lord.
Maybe it was a cold night, maybe he was in shock and though that the fire could stop him shaking.
However he rationalised it, he warms himself at the enemies fire.
Why is Peter there?
Does he want to be near to Jesus?
Des he want to see what happens?
Maybe he want see but hide in plain sight?
Maybe he hopes that by sitting down with the enemy they will think he is one of them?
Maybe he hopes that he can mingle with them, and nobody will notice him.
There is an important lesson we need to learn.
You can’t sit with the enemy, and warm yourself by the enemies fire, and not be burned !
When you choose to only follow the Lord at a distance, you are not close to the Lord.
The further away from Jesus you are the closer you are to camping with the enemy !
The real problem here is the denial of the truth.
Peter, the one who made the confident confession: to Jesus in Matthew 16:16 You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.
Peter, the one who just hours earlier said that he would go to prison, and even die with Jesus ?
Peter, having followed at a distance, and camped out by the enemy’s fire, deny’s having known the Lord, and having been with him !
Peter, the stone, crumbles !
be careful what you say.....
be careful where you stay......
be careful who you stay with!
You may find yourself talking just like them,
and living just like them !
Not possible you say?
I would never.......
At some time in our lives all of us have.
By our own lack of activity, or involvement,
we have denied the Lord?
Think of the times you had a opportunity to speak up for the Lord,
or witness for the Lord,
and yet you chose to remain silent !
Silence speaks volumes ?
Silence says......I have not been with him!
Silence says......I do not know who he is !
When our relationship with the Lord is distant,
we lack discernment.
We find ourselves in the wrong place, hanging with the wrong people.
The next step is then denial or refusal.
Maybe some of you here this evening.....
Maybe you have grown distant from the Lord.
You are still following, but not as close as before.
Maybe your lifestyle, your conversation are denying the Lord.
You know your not doing what you should.
There is hope this evening!
The great example that we learn from Peter’s is that their is hope for those who fall - there is help!
God was not through with Peter and he is not through with you.
There was hope for Peter - there is hope for us!
Peter rose from his fall and was used by God.
He would preach on the day of Pentecost, and thousands would come to know Christ through his ministry !
How was it possible?
The presence of the Lord
Though Peter had denied him, and had forsaken him, the Lord had not forgotten Simon Peter
Nor has the Lord forgotten us !
After the resurrection of Jesus, The Lord reminds Peter, and the rest of the disciples of His power, and His authority !
Three times Peter had denied knowing the Lord and having been with him. The Lord probed the heart of Peter, confronting him with his sin of denial. Three times he asks Peter if he loves him!
The plan of the Lord from day one of his calling the disciples was “follow me”.
Though Peter had failed, the Lord reaffirms his calling to Peter.......”remember me, follow me”.
Tonight the Lord reaffirms his calling to you
”remember me, follow me”.
Will you respond to His call.
The day that Christ was crucified was the darkest day the world has ever witnessed.
On that day mankind revolted against the love of God, refused to accept Christ as God’s Son, and slew him by nailing him to a cross.
In spite of the awfulness of crucifying Jesus the disciples came to understand that, in the death of their Lord, God had done his kindest work for people.
Why would the sinless, stainless, spotless Son of God have to die?
Why did he institute a meal in which the elements were given great symbolic significance as a memory of his death on the cross?”
To have the correct answer is to have the key to the Christianity.
To understand Christ’s death is to discover the essence of Christianity.
To grasp the significance of his sacrificial death is to understand the heart of God’s revelation of his love and mercy.
I. Jesus Christ died on the cross to reveal the evil nature of sin.
Not only in our age, but in every age, people have attempted to minimize and excuse sin. There are many who deny that there is any such thing as sin. There are others who joke about sin and treat it lightly. Others tolerate and welcome sin in their own hearts and lives.
Jesus died on the cross because of our sin. Had humans not been sinners, it would not have been necessary for him to die. If sin were not something terrible, dark, and destructive, Calvary would not have been necessary.
It is the testimony of the Scripture that Christ died for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18).
The elements of the Lord’s Supper speak to us about the deadly, destructive, evil nature of our sin that required the death of Jesus Christ for our deliverance and forgiveness.
II. Jesus Christ died on the cross to redeem and save us (Mark 10:45).
Jesus was the perfect substitute. He died to ransom us from sin (Mark 10:45).
He is the Good Shepherd who gave his life for his sheep.
The Sinless One assumed the burden of our sin and suffered in our place that we might obtain his perfect righteousness (1 Cor. 5:21).
III. Jesus Christ died on the cross to enlist and inspire our service.
Because Christ died for our sins, we should be inspired to die to sin and to devote our lives to a life of righteousness, both in relationship to God and in our conduct toward our fellow humans (1 Peter 2:24).
Next to our salvation, the privilege of Service is the greatest gift of God to humankind (Phil. 1:29; Rom. 12:1).
Gratitude for God’s unspeakable gifts, through the Saviour who was willing to die and who triumphantly lives again, should cause us to dedicate ourselves in Service to him.
As we partake of the bread, which symbolizes Christ’s body, and the wine, which symbolizes his blood, let us dedicate our lives to our Saviour.