Summary: A sermon to help teach the biblical basis for the Lord’s Supper with a lot of help from John MacArthur’s commentary on this text.
Title: The Lord’s Supper
Bible Text: Matthew 26:26-30
Intro: What is the Lord’s Supper really all about? Do we fully understand what this monthly ritual we participate in is supposed to mean? Or do we just do the Lord’s Supper because, well, because that is what a person does at church? It’s…it’s tradition!
I read this week of a small-town church in upstate New York. They’d had a pastor in that church for over thirty-five years. He was loved by the church and the community. After he retired, he was replaced by a young pastor. It was his first church; he had a great desire to do well. He had been at the church several weeks when he began to perceive that the people were upset at him. He was troubled.
Eventually he called aside one of the lay leaders of the church and said, "I don’t know what’s wrong, but I have a feeling that there’s something wrong."
The man said, "Well, pastor, that’s true. I hate to say it, but it’s the way you do the Communion service."
"The way I do the Communion service? What do you mean?"
"Well, it’s not so much what you do as what you leave out."
"I don’t think I leave out anything from the Communion service."
"Oh yes, you do. Just before our previous pastor distributed and administered the cup and wine to the people, he’d always go over and touch the radiator. And, then, he would--"
"Touch the radiator? I never heard of that liturgical tradition."
So the younger man called the former pastor. He said, "I haven’t even been here a month, and I’m in trouble."
"In trouble? Why?" Asked his predecessor.
"Well, it’s something to do with touching the radiator. Could that be possible? Did you do that?"
"Oh yes, I did. Always before I distributed the cup to the people, I touched the radiator to discharge the static electricity so I wouldn’t shock them."
So, for over thirty-five years, the people of his congregation had thought that touching the radiator was a part of the holy tradition. I have to tell you that church has now gained the name, "The Church of the Holy Radiator."
The truth is, we, as God’s people, can find ourselves doing things just because we have always done them that way. Well, I want to take some time today to look into God’s Word and see what it has to say about the Lord’s Supper and why we do it.
In this simple meal that Jesus celebrated with His disciples we find some revealing truths.
Background of Matt. 26: Jesus was alone in the upper room with the eleven faithful disciples. He transformed the Passover of the OT covenant into the Lord’s Supper of the New Covenant.
Passover was the oldest of Jewish festivals, older than the covenant with Moses on Mt. Sinai. It was established before the priesthood, the tabernacle, or the Law. It was ordained by God while Israel was still enslaved in Egypt and it had been celebrated by His people for some 1500 years.
It should be noted, however, that the Passover Jesus was now concluding with His disciples was the last divinely sanctioned Passover ever to be observed. No Passover celebration after that night Jesus spent with His disciples has been anything more than a wonderful time of remembrance. Remembering God’s rescue.
As Jesus and the disciples come to this last meal they would have together. We need to try to comprehend the context of what has happened. Jesus has been teaching and preaching at a feverish pace. Everything is starting to take on a feeling of urgency. Jesus has preached the Gospel and the people were getting it. They were beginning to follow Him.
The problem was that the people were following Him for some wrong reasons. They saw Him as a food ticket, a potential political savior, a wise and gifted teacher.
The religious leaders saw Him as a trouble maker who was cutting in on their turf. He was winning the hearts of the people who used to hang on their every word.
Jesus tried to warn the disciples several times. Even here in Matt. 26:6ff Jesus speaks of His upcoming separation from the disciples. This all leads us to this last meal that Jesus had with His disciples. Jesus knew it was to be His last and He wants to institute a new way for them to think about this meal. What used to be a yearly Passover meal to celebrate God’s deliverance of His chosen people out of Egypt, now would become a celebration meal that Jesus, God’s own Son, who would pay the price for us to enter into and grow in a personal relationship with God. Jesus took us from a remembrance of God’s rescue from slavery in Egypt to remembrance of our rescue from the slavery of sin into a eternal relationship with God.