Summary: A Communion Message.
THE UPPER ROOM IN THREE ACTS
INTRO: Charles Templeton once said that the history of the world was altered by the events which took place in two upper rooms. They were separated by some three thousand miles and nearly two thousand years.
One was a flat over a laundry in the Soho slum district of London. It had a dirty, curtainless window, and it contained a small, round table stacked high with papers. By the light of a flickering oil lamp a bearded man sat writing with a cheap, scratchy pen. He was Karl Marx, a Jew, and he was writing “Das Kapital” the Bible of modern Communism. Today, nearly half the world’s population follows his economic theory, and most live in slavery as bad as that against which they rebelled.
The second upper room was spacious and was located in one of the world’s oldest cities, Jerusalem. There a large table was set for thirteen men to eat the Passover feast together. On the table were lamb, bread, wine, and herbs. After the meal was concluded, their leader Jesus instituted a symbolic Supper which has been observed by millions all over the world, for nearly two hundred centuries. We believe it will continue to be the focal point of Christian worship, in observances simple and elaborate, till the end of time.
Other events of momentous significance also took place in that upper room in Jerusalem. Think back.
I. ACT I — JESUS’ LAST SUPPER (John 13-17).
All readers of the Gospels are familiar with the events of the last week of Jesus’ life, and the events of that evening. Momentous debates had crowded in on Jesus since his triumphal entry to the Holy City on the previous Sunday. Excitement has run high in his disciple band.
Now he had eaten the Passover with them for the last time. After Judas went out, Jesus had instituted the Memorial Supper by which he would always be remembered. Jesus then spent a long time teaching them and preparing them for what would follow after his departure (John 14).
He taught them utter dependence on him in the parable of the true vine (John 15). He promised to send them the Holy Spirit (John 16) and He prayed the great high priestly prayer for his disciples and for us (John 17).
II. ACT II — TRAGEDY TURNS TO TRIUMPH.(John 20:19-20, 24).
Following Jesus arrest, trials, and crucifixion, the disciples gathered again in the upper room. They had heavy hearts. The past three days had been unbelievably tragic. Their hope had died with the Master. The dream of the kingdom now appeared impossible.
Ten disciples huddled there in fear. The door was barred. Thomas was absent and Judas had committed suicide by hanging. The men spoke in hushed tones. They were Jesus’ closest friends and followers. He had been executed by the authorities, and they might be next.
Suddenly they were aware of another in the midst, and they became more frightened than before. Then this figure spoke in a familiar voice, “Peace be unto you.” He showed them his pierced hands and side and they knew it was Jesus. And this remarkable appearance took place in the same upper room where they had eaten with the Master.
III. ACT III — THE DAY THE POWER CAME (Acts 1:13; 2:1-4).
The risen Christ continued to appear to those who loved him: again on the next Sunday in the upper room, this time with Thomas present. He appeared to the disciples and to several hundred people in Galilee. Then after forty days he ascended to Heaven.
Jesus promised that if he went away the Holy Spirit would come. Thus, the early church met for prayer in the same upper room (Acts 1:14). On the feast of Pentecost they were gathered when the sound of heaven entered the place and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Inspired, they went out and bore witness to their faith and the coming of the kingdom of God.
CONC: Three great chapters in Christian history were written in that upper room: the Lord’s Supper was instituted by Jesus; the risen Christ appeared to his disciples; and the Holy Spirit came upon the new church with power. It is remarkable.
Yet, we worship not a place by a person. As surely as he was present in that upper room both before and after his death, so he is here with us in this place of worship. And the same Holy Spirit is here to save and empower us. Jesus has given us this magnificent legacy. We appropriate it by faith.