Summary: This sermon was written for Maundy Thursday but can be used to teach the importance of remembering
Remembering Jesus – The Last Supper
Tonight we recognize, remember, and commemorate Jesus’ last supper. In Matthew 26 we see how Jesus sent His disciples ahead, told them WHO to talk to so they would find THE room, and they spent the day preparing the Passover meal, (no small feat). Jesus then joined His friends in the Upper Room in the evening to celebrate the Feast of the Passover. This was their time to remember God’s faithfulness, retell the story of the exodus from Egypt; and reclaim the promise of His covenant.
Tonight I’d like us to think about the atmosphere in the room the night Jesus instituted this amazing meal as recorded in Matthew 26. Can you imagine it? It was probably loud with everyone talking at the same time, much like it was in the Fellowship Hall earlier, or at our feasts with friends and family at Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter. These are the times we remember God’s faithfulness, retell stories, and reclaim the promise of love in our relationships.
So, in the room that night, the disciples were celebrating, laughing, sharing stories, enjoying their meal, when suddenly Jesus interrupted them with some “show stopping” news. He said, “I tell you the truth. One of you will betray me.” Say what? Picture the mood change at that moment suddenly shifting from celebratory to sorrowful. The Bible tells us they were all greatly distressed at this news. Of course they were. They LOVED Jesus. How could this be? So, one by one, all except one, Judas, they asked their Friend, Jesus, “Is it me? Am I the one, Lord?” “Lord” shows us the reverence they had for Jesus as they acknowledged His power and authority over them. He was their Lord, their Master. Yes, they were friends, but He was the boss.
Though Jesus didn’t reveal who would betray Him at their questioning, He reiterated one of them in the room, one who had just eaten out of the same bowl as He, was the one. He went on to say the Son of God needed to die as it was written, but how terrible it would be for the one who betrayed Him; so dreadful in fact it would have been better if he were not born.
It was THEN Judas spoke up and said, “Rabbi, (or Teacher), is it I?” Judas identified with Him as teacher, not as Lord, as One who had authority over him. He would later regret that decision as well as his actions.
Judas’ betrayal ought to serve as a warning to us, as to how easy it is to be “on board” one minute and “out of the boat” the next, how easy it is for us to dip our fingers into the bowl with Jesus, to worship Him in public, serve Him, walk with Him, and yet betray Him with our words and actions. Every time we prepare to receive communion, we ought to remember how this one man who walked with Jesus, met with Him face to face, served by His side, was still able to betray Him.
In Matthew again, we read Jesus merely responded to Judas, “It is as you say.” He didn’t beat him over the head with the truth or try to further embarrass him. He knew what Judas was thinking even though Judas wasn’t admitting it. Jesus knows what you’re thinking right now. He knows what I’m thinking. He knows what we’ve done right and what we’ve done wrong. He isn’t going to beat us over the head with His truth or try to embarrass us. Instead, He invites us to His table. He provides the meal and asks us to remember Him as we come to commune. What we do with His invitation and how we remember is up to us.
After unfolding the big news, they went back to eating. That’s rather odd to me but it is what it is. As they did, Jesus instituted the last supper, also called communion or Eucharist. It is a “means of grace”; a “way” we get to experience God’s grace tangibly here on earth. It is a way of meeting and communing with God and each other, as we literally dip our fingers into His body and blood. As we celebrate this meal, we remember the relationship we share with Him. After all, we do this in remembrance of Him.
It reads like this in Matthew 26:26-28 “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, ‘Take, eat; this IS My body.’ Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. (remember, Judas is still there) For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.’"