Summary: Thanksgiving message about what Jesus was thankful for at the Last Supper.
Mark 14:22-26 – Thankful for Breaking and Mending
Tonight, as we sing and pray and thank God, I’d like to share with you from the life of Jesus. I think that’s always a good place to start. Tonight’s scripture passage is found 3 times in the Gospels, meaning that the writers considered it fairly important. I’ll use Mark 14:22-26 as home base tonight, as we look at what Jesus thanked God for.
You may be familiar with this scene, but if not, I’ll elaborate. This was less than a day away from Jesus’ death. We call it Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday, the day Jesus breathed His last. But it wasn’t just any Thursday. It was a special day. It was Passover week, one of the most special times in the life of a Jewish man or woman.
Passover was the annual celebration remembering how God, some 1200 years before, had rescued the people from slavery at the hands of the Egyptians. Leaving Egypt, crossing the Red Sea, and receiving the Law, within the space of about 5 months, was really the birth of the Jewish nation. Passover was a festival celebrating God’s powerful, saving hand.
The tradition, the rituals of Passover were elaborate. There were prayers and recitations, singing and questions, even a game of hide and seek. And there was food. The food wasn’t just about eating, but it was symbolic too. There was something called haroseth, a thick, chunky fruity mixture meant to remind the people of the mortar used in making bricks for the Egyptians. There was lamb, reminding the people of the blood of the lamb spread on the doorposts way back when.
There were the 2 things mentioned in our scripture tonight: bread and wine. The bread was unleavened – made without yeast. That was a reminder of God’s command to make bread quickly, without yeast, in order to leave Egypt quickly. So this bread that Jesus was sharing was unleavened and was called matzoh. It was similar to pita bread; today it’s more like a big saltine. It was this bread that Jesus broke, gave thanks, and gave it to His disciples.
And the wine held symbolism as well. In the course of the evening there were 4 cups of wine, representing the God’s 4 “I will’s” from Exodus 6: I will bring you, I will free you, I will redeem you, and I will take you. This cup that Jesus shared was the 3rd cup, the Cup of Redemption. He took the cup, again gave thanks, and gave it to His disciples.
Clearly Jesus was thankful that night. He never did anything just for ceremony or show, so He gave thanks out of sincerity, not ritual. So, to me, this begs the question: why did He give thanks? I mean, He was Jesus. He was the Creator of the world in human flesh. He had the power to do anything. He could have made His own bread right there – He had multiplied bread loaves before. He could have made His own wine right then – He had turned water into wine as His 1st miracle. If Jesus had the power to make His own bread and wine, why did He thank God then?
Well, I ask the question but don’t overthink the answer. He was thankful. Yes, He could have made His own, but even then, the power would have come from the Father. He was thankful. He was glad to have the bread. He was glad to have the wine. And I think the reasons flow from who Jesus was, and what He was about to do.
Well, let’s imagine ourselves in that situation. Here was Jesus, who of course was Jewish. He was human, descended from the people who were set free in the Exodus out of Egypt. It was His ancestors who had felt the stinging oppression of slavery but had been set free to be their own people in their own land. The Passover story, where God slew the firstborn of the Egyptians but spared the Hebrews, where the blood of the lamb saved the people, was Jesus’ story as well.
As a man, He was thankful for the full tummy that accompanies a Passover feast. He was thankful for religious history tied up with the holiday. He was thankful for God’s deliverance of his people. Jesus was thankful for what the Passover meant, both to Himself and to His people.
Likewise, we can be thankful for the same reasons. We can be thankful for full tummies at Thanksgiving. We can be thankful for all the tryptophans in the turkey that give us such good afternoon naps, for the homemade dressing, for the cranberry sauce and the pumpkin pie. This is all good. And we can be thankful for our loved ones around us. There’s nothing wrong with counting our physical blessings and being thankful. We can even be thankful for our traditions, the rituals that we use to celebrate the day. Whether they be religious or not, it’s OK to be thankful for the lives we have.