A Meal with God

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Luke 22.7-23 - A Meal with God

Morning folks! It would be a great idea if you managed to pick up a Bible and find Luke 22 again. Just to have that open in front of you would be a huge help.

Treat it like a kind of entry card – an invite to join us at a meal this morning… a meal with Jesus.

I don’t know if you’ve found this, but one of the things we’ve most missed in our crazy COVID circumstances has not only been meeting others… but eating with them.

• Before the Pandemic Fiona and I used to have people round to our house for food every week– perhaps you’ve had to endure our cooking and our conversation in what now seems like the very dim and distant past?! You may not have missed us, but we’ve missed you!

• AND what about Christmas? Oh, we had a lovely Christmas dinner as a family last year – but it wasn’t quite the same without the buzz of guests pitching up to enliven our house and home, and share in our joy.

You see food isn’t just fuel. Food says: Friendship. Especially if you invite someone into your home. There’s something so human about that, that it happens in every culture. You show that you accept and care about someone – that you want to get to know them and be with them – by saying to them: “Let’s eat together.”

The American social activist Cesar Chavez said this about eating together: “If you really want to make a friend go to someone’s house and eat with them...” – listen to this – “The people who give you their food, give you their hearts.”

Have you experienced that? “The people who give you their food, give you their hearts.”

• Well… what if God was offering you his food, and in doing so is also giving you his heart?
• What if the glow of sitting around the table feasting together with good friends and family at home, at your Christmas dinner – is actually a little picture of the joy and closeness of the relationship God offers us with himself?

That’s what this passage is all about this morning – A meal with God.

We join Jesus in the shadow of the cross – the day before he dies. Like each one of the accounts of Jesus’ life this is the moment Luke’s gospel has been leading up to.

• The religious leaders are circling – plotting to kill him.
• AND one of his disciples, Judas has agreed to betray him.
• AND he’s in Jerusalem… right in the danger zone.
• It seems certain Jesus is going to die.

BUT before we get to the action – we’re invited to witness a meal, that is loaded with meaning.

1. This Meal Looks Back

Luke doesn’t want us to miss that it is Passover time. 5 times in 9 verses here he mentions the word: “Passover”.

AND you can see that this meal was a bit different to most, as Luke introduces it in verse 7 by saying: “Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.”

That’s a dramatic way to describe preparing a meal, isn’t it? To Sacrifice the lamb. I don’t think Fiona or I have ever started getting Sunday Lunch ready by saying: “I’m just going to sacrifice the chicken.”

BUT the reason that the lamb had to be sacrificed – in fact the reason for the whole menu at Passover – was that this was a meal… that told a story. The story of God rescuing his people from Egypt thousands of years before.

A while ago when I was in London, I saw a poster up at one Underground station which said: “If History could be folded, where would you put the crease?” It’s a great question, isn’t it! And I don’t know what your answer would be? What you’d say the turning point in human history is?

Well, for the Jews that would be easy to answer! They would have said: “The Exodus from Egypt – That is where history is folded.”

AND this meal tells that story…

So, you’d get Bitter Herbs – which recalled the people’s bitter slavery – oppressed and mistreated – ALL their first-born sons murdered by Pharaoh and the Egyptian people – UNTIL God stepped in and sent his messenger Moses with the demand to: “Let MY people go!”

• And Pharaoh kept flip-flopping: “Yes, you can. No, you can’t. Yes, you can. No, you can’t. Yes, you can. No, you can’t.”

• Until finally, God said to him: “Enough is enough! You’ve had every chance to do the right thing, but you wouldn’t. Now only judgement awaits you. So, there’s a night coming when the angel of death will pass through this land and every first-born son in the land will die.”

BUT God as ever is so gracious – As he provided a way of deliverance for those who would take his word seriously and follow his instructions to the letter. God told his people to:

• Take a perfect, spotless Lamb,
• Sacrifice it,
• And sprinkle the blood on the door frame and the lintels – So that when the angel of death came, he would see the blood on the door, and “PASSOVER” that house, and the first born wouldn’t die.

The blood of the lamb paid the price of death for the son.

AND then God told them to:

• “Bake some Bread, without yeast in it – you’ve got no time for that!
• So unleavened bread. Flat bread.
• And you must eat it and the lamb in your puffer coat and Nikes on – ready to leave – ready to run – cos I’m rescuing you, and you don’t want to miss that moment!”

AND folks, Luke is saying here – “Think that. Think – verse 7 –unleavened bread and sacrificed lamb. Think JUDGEMENT, SACRIFICE, and RESCUE... and you will see what this meal meant to God’s people.”

And yet, as Jesus sits down to eat it with his disciples suddenly, surprisingly – he says that:

2. This Meal Looks Forward

As in verse 15 he says he has: “earnestly desired to eat this Passover” with them before he dies. And that’s not in the sense that he’s a condemned man eating his final, favourite meal with his closest friends on his way to the gallows…

• No! As in verse 16 he says that he won’t eat it again “until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”

• AND in verse 18 that he won’t drink wine “until the kingdom of God comes.” – As if the Passover meal wasn’t just something to look back to as the great deliverance, but it was also a hint of… a pointer ahead to… an even greater deliverance.

For the rescue Passover spoke of wouldn’t be fully realised until Jesus comes back as God’s risen, ascended, reigning, glorious, heavenly King.

You see the next time Jesus parties with his friends it will be what the Jewish people thought of as the messianic banquet – heaven’s great feast.

I don’t know if you know that’s what heaven is. People often make heaven sound so dull, as if it would be far better to be in any other place nut there! BUT that’s not the picture the Bible gives us of it. It’s a party full of feasting joy!

And Jesus is hinting at that again here. That’s why he was looking forward to eating this meal with his disciples – not because he was looking forward to dying – BUT what his death would lead to… the joy set before him… the joy of heaven.

BUT until then, until Jesus comes back…

3. This Meal Is for Us Now

There is a meal to be looked forward to when we will eat with him in eternity. BUT there is a meal to be eaten now – and incredibly Jesus says that the main course is… him.

As in verse 19: “… 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.’ And likewise, the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.’”

“This is MY body.” “This is MY blood?” What is this? Some form of sick religious cannibalism?

No… this is a shocking dramatisation of the cross. Jesus is to become our perfect, spotless Passover lamb. He will be sacrificed the very next day.

• His body broken – torn apart, like bread.
• His blood poured out like wine – not on the doorposts, but poured out on the cross.
• AND all to turn away God’s judgement from us.
• He dies to rescue us – the innocent for the guilty.

BUT Jesus is not just teaching his disciples – and us too – about how to understand his death. He is also teaching us how we should benefit from it.

You see when a person eats the flesh of an animal, they take advantage of their death. This was the case with the Passover Lamb. After it was killed, it became dinner.

• First, its blood shielded the people from judgement…
• But then it sustained the people for their journey out of Egypt.

AND so, it is with Jesus. His life is given to pay for our sins and he’s given to us for our ongoing sustenance. He is our sacrifice AND our fellowship meal. He is to be eaten, that we might be fed.

So how do we do that? How do we feast on Christ?

Answer: By recreating this meal… “in Remembrance of me.”

If you’ve been thinking this sermon is a bit heavy this week – and that there’s not been nearly enough application – well here it is! There’s only one command in this passage and this is it: Recreate this meal to remember Jesus’ death.

AND in doing so, we have an opportunity to feast on him.

Not literally, like some have misunderstood Jesus’ command to mean – imagining that the bread and wine somehow supernaturally become his actually body and blood. No! There’s nothing in all of scripture that promises us that.

Here’s how we are to feast on him – By doing what he told us to do! Come to the communion meal and Break Bread recognising that your sins are bigger than you thought.

Folks, sometimes you only see how serious an illness is when you see how serious the remedy is. AND it can be like that with sin.

I visited a friend of mine in hospital a while back who looked and felt absolutely fine. Yet the following day a surgeon was going to cut him open, and chop out bits of his internal organs – before he would be put on a year’s worth of pills and treatments, with potential side effects that would make your eyes water just to read them.

• BUT to look at him that day – it all seemed so unnecessary. He looked great, was full of life and didn’t have any symptoms at all.
• And it was only a very small lump that they had found on a routine scan.
• It almost made you wonder what he was doing in hospital the first place!

But if the Doctors thought it was worth the risk of taking this remedy, I had to re-evaluate how serious my friend’s condition was.

And it’s like that with sin.

• I might think it’s no big deal,
• my conscience might be so dulled that my sin hardly affects me,
• I might have forgotten that there are always consequences for sin cos I haven’t had to face them yet
• – BUT if the remedy for the cancer of sin cost Jesus his life... well that’s a whole new level of seriousness, isn’t it?

Of course, you’ve guessed by now that the lump they’d found was cancerous. And the doctors did a great job, and my friend did endure the pain and recovered. BUT it’s NOT like that with sin.

You see the sinner doesn’t undergo the treatment. The saviour does. The full force of all the effects of our sin were played out on him.

AND as we come to the communion meal and we break the bread and hear Jesus say:

• “This is my body given for you.
• Whipped for you.
• Nailed for you.
• Mocked for you.
• The darkness... the agony... the aloneness... the god-forsakenness... FOR YOU”

It makes us realise that our sins are actually bigger than we thought – So big that only the death of the Son of God could deal with them.

We can’t grasp that and then dismiss sin as just well you know, a little cough and a sniffle – a bit of man flu.

BUT then secondly, we take the cup and Drink Wine remembering that God’s love for me is also bigger than I thought.

Jesus says, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.’”

Blood in the body means life. So, to pour out blood is to pour out life. And this is what Jesus does for us. He gives his infinitely precious blood – the blood of God – in payment for our sin-stained souls.

What kind of God is this?! He is totally unlike the way we so often characterise God.

Ever since Adam and Eve, humanity has thought of God as distant, tight-fisted, a killjoy. The first lie the serpent whispered to Eve is believed every day: “God knows what you need and he is holding out on you. He is a miser.”

• Why don’t we love God as we should?
• Why don’t we obey him?
• Why don’t we pour out our lives… in worship of his name?

Because this is the deception we choose to believe. We think God is all about forbidding us fruit. So, we mistrust him, and close off from him – AND try to manage life out of our own resources.

But we must fight this lie… with the body and blood of Christ!

I mean, who can look at the cross and doubt the generosity of God? At the cross we see no begrudging miser. Here is his body freely given… for you. Here is Life expended to the very last drop... for you.

This God does not dispense blessings with a teaspoon. He pours himself out... for us and to us. At the cross “the lie” is unmasked.

• Satan is the miser.
• We are the selfish ones.
• God is the Giver…. though it cost him everything… even his body and blood.
• So that we can know, really know – that we are loved – more than we could ever imagine.

Look, this sermon is coming to an end – you can relax. But in about 20 minutes time I want you to join me on Zoom for the start of another one.

Don’t worry! It will be less verbal – and more visual. There will be more physical participation. Bring bread to break and eat. Wine to pour and drink. As we seek to live out Jesus command to re-enact this meal – to “Do this… in remembrance of him.”

BUT as you come know this one final thing: We Eat This Meal with Either Thanksgiving or Treachery in Our Hearts

That was the case on this night! As Jesus says in verse 21: “But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!”

• And though they were all trying to figure out who it might be – they couldn’t work it out just by looking round the room.
• AND we won’t know just by looking either – the traitor ate with them all that evening.
• You might know which you are... if you know your heart well enough.
• God certainly does know... which we are. And he will reveal it to you if you ask him.

AND each time we take communion together as a church, it’s an opportunity to ask him to reveal your heart to you.

“This is my body, given for you.”

Can you put your name at the end of the sentence?

“Given for Ken. Given for Ben. Given for… ???”

• If you can, then it means that you have to own the disease.

• And if you can, then it means you need the remedy.

• And if you can, then it means you can feast on Christ and nourish your hungry soul now.

• AND look forward to feasting joy with him in heaven – where all your longings will fully and finally be satisfied.

Why don’t we use this next song to take some time to call out to the Lord show us where we are with him? Then Ben will pray for us, and remind us of the Zoom details so we can gather there to take communion together after this service.

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