March 10, 2024

God on Trial: Respite

Passage: Luke 22:7-22

Jonah Albrecht

February 10th, 2024

God on Trial: Respite

Luke 22:7-20

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8 So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.” 9 They said to him, “Where will you have us prepare it?” 10 He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters 11 and tell the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 12 And he will show you a large upper room furnished; prepare it there.” 13 And they went and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover. 14 And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. 15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

In the name of Jesus, who offered His body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins, dear fellow redeemed:

We are jumping ahead in our series God on Trial just a bit to Maundy Thursday, the day before Jesus is arrested and tried and crucified. In the next 24 hours, the disciples wouldn’t know what hit them. Their Lord and teacher would be ambushed in the garden by one of their own, tried in an illegal, one-sided trial, and put to death in a manner that is considered to be a curse among the Jews. It is written: Cursed is anyone who hangs on a tree. One day everything seems fine, but by the next, they have lost everything and become scattered and disheveled.

But this day, Maundy Thursday, the chaos that will ensue is only in the future. The Lord provides for His disciples a time of respite. This respite was completely for their benefit: It would prepare them for what they were about to face. It would be a continuous reminder of the grace that God has shown to the world.

That night, Jesus and His disciples were celebrating the Passover meal. This meal was done in remembrance of when the LORD delivered His people out of the land of Egypt. God warned Moses ahead of time that the tenth and final plague would be the death of the firstborn in every household. There was but one way to escape this fate: Have the blood of a spotless lamb painted on the doorpost of the house. When the Angel of the Lord passed through Egypt, death came without distinction. But to those who abided by the Word of the LORD, they were protected by the blood of the lamb, gathered around the special meal as the LORD commanded.

Every year, the people of God who continued to trust in His promises celebrated the same Passover meal. They were to remember how they were once in chains, but the LORD delivered them by His own hand. The purpose of the Passover was not to just look back on their history, but a reason to look forward. It stood as a picture of the Lamb of God who would shed His blood on the cross in order to deliver all people from the chains of sin and death.

It is clear why Jesus says, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” For centuries, God’s people anxiously awaited the great deliverance that was promised to Adam and Eve, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Finally, the time had come. The Lamb of God is here. He is sitting in the upper room with His closest friends bringing to a close the old and ushering in something new. This is the last time the Passover needed to be celebrated because no longer will God’s people need to look forward for their deliverance, it will have already come and will have been accomplished. Now, Jesus gifts to His disciples a new remembrance: His body broken and blood shed for their sins.

In this supper, Jesus gives to His people His very body and blood. The very things He is about to offer up on the cross in order to seal God’s New Covenant with His people. One sacrifice for all so that the unrighteous might become righteous. Innocent blood shed and forgiveness received. This meal the Lord gives to His people is even greater than the Passover because every time it is celebrated, God’s forgiveness is given through the Savior’s body and blood He sacrificed. It will also serve as an anchor for His disciples as they endure the terrifying events of Good Friday. Though due to their grief and fear, they may not have recognized the significance of what the Lord had given them, it would become the most intimate and important meal of their lives.

Jesus clearly was looking further ahead than His own disciples. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” The kingdom of God is His gracious rule in the hearts of believers. This comes through the Lord’s Supper. There is nothing that we bring to the Lord’s Table. If anything, we only bring our sin and our guilt. The very things that rightfully disqualify us from approaching God in the first place. None of us deserve to have the kingdom of God come to us, but nonetheless it has come through God’s grace and favor. In the same way, our Savior reached out to give unto His disciples His very body and blood for the forgiveness of their sins, so also does our Lord reach out and invite you to partake of the same body and blood for the same forgiveness of your sins.

Jesus did not institute this Supper for His own sake. It was purely for His disciples’ sake and for your sake. The disciples were about to have the whole world turn their focus and hatred onto them as they took the Gospel to every corner of the world. This supper would give them the spiritual strength and renewal needed to withstand being put on trial through persecution, hatred, or outright denial. This supper serves the same purpose for you today. The world does not neglect to come after you and put you on trial right alongside God.

Remember Jesus’ words in John 15: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.

Outside of these walls is a world full of enemies. Those who will hate you for simply honoring what God has spoken. Those who despise the goodness of God and all the blessings we enjoy. At every avenue, the world places God on trial and drags you into the mud of their ire right along with Him. What better reason to be here, not just in church, but here to receive the very body and blood that your Savior gave into death in order to purchase your life from sin and death. In this meal, Jesus comes to you and offers you rest; away from the world, away from its hatred and guile. Here you are reminded of the peace that exists between you and God and the inability of your enemies to take that away.

What about the enemy that dwells within you? Your sinful flesh. Does your conscience weigh heavy with sin before you approach the altar? Do feelings of unworthiness consume you because of a sinful vice that has a hold of your life? The sinful flesh was alive and present in that room on Maundy Thursday. Not in Jesus, but in every single one of the disciples. And yet, Jesus called out to them with His grace and love to offer them forgiveness. Yes, even for the one who would go on to deny Him three times. Yes, there was forgiveness possible for the one who had left in order to betray Him. You are no different. Jesus reaches out to you with His grace and love to offer you forgiveness. He says to you, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

There is no sin too great; no burden to heavy; no person too broken. God gives you His body: perfect in all things and in which He honored God even unto death. God gives you His blood: in which He washes you completely clean and makes you holy. He eagerly desires to share this meal with you, to give you what you most desperately need: Nourishment for your soul. These are the blessings Jesus gives to you when He calls you to this altar. But they are not given only to you, but to all of you. We all approach the throne of God together, in communion, to share in the comfort won for us in the death and resurrection of our Savior.

Jesus unites us with His body and blood. This communion we share in the body and blood of Christ unites us so that we may face our spiritual battles together. A common enemy is opposed to us all. But for us fights a common hero. One who gave up His life in order to void our enemy of its power. One who gives us a most precious respite in His body and blood and a constant reminder of God’s grace and love shown to the world.

If this life is like a courtroom where the world puts God and his people on trial, think of this Supper as a recess, a respite. Jesus ushers you into a quiet room where there are no accusations, no prosecutors, no hostile witnesses—only faithful supporters and the promise of a victorious outcome. How eagerly we desire to eat this meal! Here we find peace. Here we stand in the presence of God. Here we are surrounded by his people.

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.

Praise Him all creatures here below

Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. TLH 558 vs 6 Amen.

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