Summary: A study on the church and the Lord’s Supper
When the very wealthy business man Howard Hughes died, he was honored in Las Vegas in a remarkably callous way. For sixty seconds the pit bosses held their dice at the crap tables; the roulette wheels were stilled and the casinos quiet. Then a man at Desert Inn yelled, “Ok, he’s had his minute, let’s deal ‘em.” Hughes had amassed a fantastic fortune in his hey day. He indulged his every fantasy and played with the worlds most expensive toys, but he had lost touch with people. They gave him what they thought he had coming – sixty seconds of respect. Then he was forgotten. Jesus on the other hand amassed no fortune, owned no properties or play things, wrote no books, held no political office, depended upon His friends for financial support, earned no academic degrees and died an apparent failure. What made Him so different? When Jesus gathered together with His disciples to eat the last supper with them this was by no means an entirely unusual event for them. They had eaten many such meals together. What made this time different from all the others was Jesus’ knowledge of what was about to happen to Him. Soon He would leave the upper room and head to the Garden of Gethsemane, there He would struggle and agonize over His appointed destiny. Then He would experience the degradation and humiliation in front of the Jewish court and Pilate. Then would be the cross. But 2,000 years later millions of His friends gather together and remember Him with a simple memorial. As we compare Jesus to Howard Hughes we realize that there is so much more than just the obvious differences. I think it is more the history changing difference Christ made, a change in the relationship between God and man. Today we want to take a good look at this simple memorial we take on a weekly basis and discover how the remembrance needs to look forward was well as back.
I. The change of the relationship between God and man is highlighted as blesses the cup and says, ““This cup is the new covenant in my blood.”
A. His disciples immediately knew what He meant immediately by these words although they would not fully understand their implication until after His resurrection.
1. Being raised Jewish they had always been taught to believe that their God was a covenant keeping God.
2. When God promised to make Abraham a great nation the covenant was sealed with a sign, circumcision.
3. When God had Moses lead His people out of Egypt a new covenant was made between God and His people at Mount Sinai.
4. See how they sealed this covenant. (Exodus 24:4-8)
5. To the Jew blood was a sacred symbol of life.
6. In throwing the blood on the altar and then on the people, Moses was symbolically intermingling God’s life and His people’s lives.
B. When Jesus held the cup of wine before them as a symbol of a new agreement, they could have not known all that was coming; however they did understand that God through Christ was preparing to write a new contract with His people.
1. Once they had seen the victorious risen Lord, they realized what had taken place on the cross.
2. There upon the cross Jesus was delivering God’s new covenant to His people.
3. He who was called the Son of God and the Son of Man personally offered the life of man and the life of God upon the altar.
4. There He changed the terms of God’s agreement with His people.
5. The cross ushered in a New Covenant of grace and love supplanting the Old Covenant of law and sacrifice.
6. See how the Hebrew writer explains Jesus’ mediation of the New Covenant. (Hebrews 9:11-15)
7. Unlike the other high priests, he doesn’t have to offer sacrifices for his own sins every day before he can get around to us and our sins. He’s done it, once and for all: offered up himself as the sacrifice. (Hebrews 7:27, Message)
II. The Lord’s Supper commemorates this supreme sacrifice and this mediation of a new covenant.
A. As soon as Peter’s hears confessed their faith in Jesus Christ and were baptized on Pentecost, they eagerly sought out one another learn about Him.
1. They studied the Scriptures about Him and eagerly accepted all the apostles had to say about Him.
2. However when the time came to break the bread and to drink the cup all focus turned to Jesus Christ.
3. They remembered the cross and the freedom that He bought for them with His blood.
4. As a memorial feast the Lord’s Supper opened the way for us to have a relationship with God without the need for an earthly priest to mediate for us.