Summary: Observations made of the Last Supper and applied to the obervance of the Lord’s Supper.
Introduction: One of the biblical scenes that artists have tried to portray more than any other is the Last Supper scene. Each artist uses his imagination as he paints the scene. In some paintings the mood is festive, the disciples portrayed with smiling faces looking up to Jesus. In others the mood is solemn almost morbid portraying the seriousness of the event. In the same way each Gospel author paints the same scene from their own unique perspective. Today we are going to view the last supper from the eyes of Matthew as we prepare to observe the Lord’s Supper.
Lets look at what happened that night before Jesus died. (Read Matthew 26:17-30)
There are four observations I want to make about the Last Supper and apply them to our observance of the Lord’s Supper this morning.
I. THE NECESSARY PREPARATION (17-18)
It was the first day of the feast of unleavened bread. This was an eight day feast that began with the observance of the pass over. Therefore, it was really two feasts combined. There was much preparation that must be done to observe the feast. The disciples inquired of Jesus where they would observe the feast so that they could begin the preparations. Jesus tells them that there is a certain man in the city that they are to go to and inform him that his"time is at hand". This man according to the other gospels would be identified as the man carrying a water pitcher. This was probably a disciple of Jesus with whom he had already made these arrangements.
To observe the Passover meal the disciples would have to obtain unleavened bread, spices, fruit, and a lamb. There was a lot of preparation that went into the observance of the Passover. The borrowed room had to be searched for any trace of yeast. Any crumb of bread had to be removed. Yeast represented the evil influence of Egypt that the Jews were leaving behind at the Exodus. Yeast came to be known as the influence of sin.
Just as the disciples had to prepare for the Passover meal, so must we prepare for the Lord’s supper? We are to observe the Lord’s supper according to Paul with a prepared heart. Paul said we are not to observe the supper in an unworthy manner. We are to come to the table with hearts prepared. The yeast of sin must be removed from our lives through confession and repentance. Paul said, "let a man examine himself". We are not to enter lightly into the observance of the Lord’s supper. There is a necessary preparation. Along these very lines, next we see:
II. SELF EXAMINATION (20-25)
Jesus interrupted the meal with a startling statement. He said, "one of you will betray me." Now the disciples had been told by Jesus that He would be delivered up, but they were not told that it would be one of their number. When faced with this news the disciples were cut to the heart. Each man began to question himself. The Greek words indicate that they were deeply sorrowful, violently shaken by this news.
They each questioned their own genuiness, their commitment to Christ.
Jesus knew who would betray him, but he allowed the other disciples to see the frailty of their own natures, which is always healthy if we allow it to drive us to Christ and a deeper trust of him and not ourselves.
Perhaps here we see the difference between self-doubt and true conviction. There was one here that knew he was not real. The others doubted, they questioned, they dreaded the possibility of it being so.
I believe real conviction that comes from the Lord leaves no room for doubt or question. It is precise and the convicted one knows that the Lord has placed his accusing finger on his heart.
I believe in this scene we see the graciousness of our Lord. Jesus is offering Judas a chance to repent of his evil. Why else would he make these statements.
Jesus appeals to Judas first from the perspective of love and friendship. The Passover meal was to be observed by families according to Exodus. This band of disciples had become a family with their Lord as the head. Each one had dipped his hand in the bowl including Judas as they observed this family feast. The psalmist described this awful betrayal in Psalm 41, "My own familiar friend in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me." Therefore, Jesus identified the betrayer as one who shared bread with him. He was appealing to Judas in love and friendship.
Then he appealed to Judas by warning of the consequences of his actions. "Woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It had been good for that man if he had not been born." Christ warns Judas that the consequences of his lack of a true relationship to him would result in a fate so bad that it would be good if he had never existed than to face such a fate.