New Life Chapel

Where ALL are Welcome!

Sermon February 28, 2010

“In Remembrance of Me”

 The Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:14-20)

Some Sunday during each quarter of the year, we here at New Life Chapel do something very significant. I generally don’t tell you when, but sometime throughout that 3 month stretch, we do something that has been done for nearly 2000 years. As I’m sure you’ve guessed, I’m talking about celebrating the Lord’s Supper.

When we do this, we are continuing a tradition; a very meaningful tradition, but even more than that – for in carrying out this practice, this custom, this ritual – if you will, we find we are not only connecting with our Christian brothers and sisters of years past, even centuries past, but we –like they, are carrying out an act of obedience. But even that is only part of it, for there’s more to this than only obedience, it is far more than merely a tradition, ritual or obedience. It is something Jesus Christ, Himself ordained to be done for He saw a real need for it.

He knew we would need a reminder, a very special reminder so we would remember what He did for us on the cross. And in order for us to truly remember, we needed to learn it, which is a process carried out best when we use more than just one of our senses, but more about that later.

First, I would like us all to read of when Jesus ordained this ritual for us to carry out. So if you would, turn in your Bibles to Luke 22:14.

Obviously, we refer to The Lord’s Supper as an ordinance because Jesus ordained it. As a matter of fact, it is only one of two ordinances prescribed in all the New Testament. Though others may try to say there are more ordinances, God’s word recognizes only baptism and the Lord’s Supper as the ordinances of the church.

Luke 22:14-20 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” 17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

Jerry Winfield, pastor of Forest Hills Baptist Church in Brentwood, Tennessee writes, “Many shopping malls house a store called Things Remembered, which offers items that can be engraved to commemorate special occasions. Many people give engraved items in honor of a special day or shared moment. If you have received such a gift, you know what a treasure it can become. People like to remember happy times and significant events. Memories are precious; they keep us connected to people, places, and events that have shaped us and influenced our lives. We may wish we could forget some things, but even life’s unpleasantries can offer lasting lessons learned through adversity.

At the Last Supper Jesus shared a meal with His disciples and then led them in the ancient observance of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, or “Passover”. Jesus, the Master Teacher, used this opportunity to plant an important memory in His disciples gathered in that upper room. Jesus shared this meal for their benefit and for ours. As Jesus raised the bread and the cup in thanksgiving, He added new significance to this ancient ritual. Luke 22 records that Jesus told His disciples to observe the Passover “in remembrance of me.”

Jesus took an old symbol and filled it with new meaning. The meaning of Jesus’ words and actions is rooted in His command to “remember”. As today’s disciples, we observe the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of Christ. Some congregations refer to this ordinance as the ‘Memorial Supper’ to highlight the significance of Christ’s atoning work on the cross and to call believers to remember His sacrificial death. Others call it ‘Communion’ to highlight the believer’s intimacy with Christ. Whatever we call this observance, one thing is clear: It is a time to remember.”

You see, Jesus was using a historical and symbolic act – The Feast of Unleavened Bread because it already held great significance for His Jewish brothers. It already had a great historical background and was the prefect foundation for the establishment of the Lord’s Supper. Back in the Old Testament, back in Exodus 12 we can read of God’s miraculous rescue of Israel from slavery in Egypt. You all know the story, of how God sent the angel of death, that was the judgment brought against all of the firstborn who were not His, not God’s.

Something had to be done in order for the angel of death to “pass over” a household designated to be God’s people, obviously where they derived the name Passover. But he would pass over the family who had put blood from a sacrificed lamb on the doorframe of their house and had eaten the Passover meal as the Lord had prescribed. This lamb and the meal of unleavened bread became the abiding symbol of Israel’s deliverance from bondage, by the mighty hand of God.

As Jesus’ disciples watched Him and listened to His words on that Passover nearly 2000 years ago, they would have understood the historical significance of His actions. But what they didn’t fully understand until after the crucifixion and resurrection, was the transformation of what had been a Jewish feast of remembrance into a new symbol to remember Jesus’ atoning sacrifice. The same God who acted in history to deliver His people, Israel from the bondage inflected upon them by Pharaoh, has also acted in history to deliver us.

He sent His only begotten Son to be the sacrifice that would surpass all sacrifice, to be the only Sacrifice capable of redeeming us, buying us back from a future of torment in hell. For that was what we deserved. “for the wages of sin is death” as Brother Paul tells us.

And believe me folks, we’ve all sinned. We have all at some point in time disobeyed God. Perhaps that “little white lie” you told, maybe even as a child, you took something that didn’t belong to you, or quite simply it was your unbelief in a God who loves you so much that He was willing to die for you; something, somewhere, sometime was the ticket to hell you and I purchased with our disobedience, our sin. 

But God wasn’t satisfied to just leave it there. He wasn’t satisfied to just let us go to hell. He knew we couldn’t change things – but He could! He could! So He came up with a plan. He, as the second person of the Godhead, the Trinity would take on the flesh of a man, be born of a woman, live with us and ultimately die in our places. For just as “the wages of sin is death”, the vicarious or substitutionary death of Jesus, the sinless Lamb of God – the sinless Son of God could pay our death penalty. So that’s what He did. He came to die. Jesus came to die.

He came to die to redeem you and me from death, so that we might have life eternal in heaven with Him and all we’ve got to do is believe in Him, have faith that His death upon the cross paid our sin penalty. We need to remember that. He knew we needed to remember that, which is exactly why He changed the Passover meal into the Lord’s Supper.

The elements used in the Supper are not the real body and blood of Jesus, but they are powerful symbols that cause us to remember that Jesus really did suffer and die in a real, historical time and place. What Jesus did centuries ago impacts your life and my life today and our eternities as well, for we are saved by our faith in what He did for us on that cross. We are saved by Grace – God’s Grace, through faith – our faith. And how on earth can we possibly be saved by faith, have the very act we are to have faith in, firmly fixed in our minds, in our very beings? We are saved by faith, but if we don’t have, don’t remember what to have faith in, how can it save us?

Each and every one of us are going to come to a point in our earthly lives when our physical bodies are going to cease to function. As I’ve so often reminded you, we are spiritual beings housed in these physical forms, but we are still spiritual beings. So when these “tabernacles of flesh” or “earthly tents” as the Apostle Paul called them, cease to function, we are going one place or another. The determining factor of where we’re going is our faith, our trust in the fact that Jesus death on the cross paid our sin penalty. If you don’t believe that, you’re not going where you think you’re going.

As many of us have recently read in The Revelation, beginning in chapter 20 and verse 15, speaking of what shall occur at the Great White Throne judgment, the Apostle John wrote:

15If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

The only way to heaven is to have your name written in the book of life and the only way to have that done is to believe in Jesus and in His work upon the cross, so we need to remember that!! And Jesus gave us a very special way to remember it. You see, as many of us have talked about before, the elements used in this ordinance, in this ritual – the bread and the fruit of the vine, involve more of our senses that only our hearing. Jesus knew, as modern educators are discovering more and more all the time, that the more of our senses that are involved in learning something, the deeper those memories will run.

Rather than only hearing a message, why not hear it and see it, by seeing something that can physically remind us of what is being conveyed audibly. And if seeing augments or compliments the hearing, why not involve the sense of touch as well? And if that helps us remember better, why not include the sense of taste in addition? Do you see what Jesus did? He told the disciples then, as well as we disciples today, but he also gave them something they could see, touch and taste. This lesson in remembering involved and still to this day involves at least these 4 senses. He did this on purpose, so that we could accomplish His purpose for the ordinance – that we would remember. That we would remember what He did for us on the cross and in remembering, bolster our faith, so that when our time comes to cross over to the other side, we will be ready. We will have faith, a faith in His work upon the cross, a faith that remembers. A faith that will have our names written in the book of life.

When John the Baptist saw Jesus approaching, he cried out,

Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29

John clearly established the reason for Jesus’ coming, to be the fulfillment of what the Passover lamb of years past had only foreshadowed.

In Exodus 12, before God delivered the children of Israel out of the hand of Pharaoh, before that “angel of death” came, the lamb was sacrificed for the deliverance of just one family; whereas at the cross, the Lamb of God was sacrificed to deliver the whole world from the power and penalty of sin.

By faith, the Passover lamb served as the substitute for the firstborn of Israel, but by our faith, Jesus was our substitute at Calvary.

Without the death of the lamb and the spreading of its blood, the children of Israel would have suffered the judgment of God. Without the shedding of the blood of Jesus and His substitutionary death, we would have no hope of salvation.

In his book The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart, Charles Swindoll relates the story of an eight year- old Kenyan girl, named Monica, who fell into a pit and broke her leg. Mama Njeri, an older woman, seeing what had happened, climbed into the pit to rescue Monica. In the pit was a black mamba, the most poisonous snake in all of Africa and it bit both Monica and Mama Njeri. Both ladies were rushed to a medical center; Monica improved, but tragically, Mama Njeri died. A nurse missionary explained to Monica that Mama Njeri was bitten first so she got all of the mamba’s poison. When the snake bit Monica, it had no poison left. The nurse went on to explain that Jesus had similarly taken the poison of our sin so that we can live. Put just that way, Monica understood it and received Christ as her Lord and God. 1

People have many ideas about who Jesus is and why He came to earth. Jesus said Himself that He “came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10). When we receive that which is on the Lord’s table, the elements speak to us of His sacrifice, His substitution, and our salvation. We celebrate our redemption in remembrance of Him. The Lord’s Supper presents the powerful message of the gospel. We should remember its personal significance. Jesus said, “This is my body given for you. . . . This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” (Luke 22:19-20). Jesus personalized His statements by using the pronoun “you”.

Jesus told His disciples that He was going to suffer for them. That He was going to die for them and He did. True, Jesus would die for everyone, for “the sin of the world”; but His disciples heard Jesus say, “I am doing this for you!” Each one of them heard Him say that to them, personally – just as we should.

In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul gives instructions concerning the Lord’s Supper and in doing so reminds the Corinthian Christians of two things: their personal salvation in Christ and that participation in the Lord’s Supper carries inward and outward aspects.

Inwardly, participants are to examine themselves spiritually before taking the Supper (vv. 27-28). Outwardly participants proclaim through the Supper the Lord’s death until He returns (v. 26).

Observing the Lord’s Supper carries personal significance because Jesus calls us to remember, to remember that He gave His body “for you.” It also carries personal responsibility for us to participate with reverence, humility, and sincerity, understanding and proclaiming Christ’s great act of love. Paul said that our observance of the Lord’s Supper is to be done to help us to remember Christ. Perhaps we are never more the church, the bride of Christ, than when we gather to partake of the elements found at the table of worship by remembering Him. May we never, ever forget. 

Now, in just a few minutes, I’m going to call up our trustees to join me in distributing the elements of the Lord’s Supper. But first, there are a couple things you need to know and a couple of things we need to do.

First what you need to know:

You should be a baptized believer to partake of the Lord’s Supper. That said, unlike some churches who practice a “closed communion”, we invite every Christian to join in this celebration.

For we here at New Life Chapel do not require you to be an official member of this “local church” to partake. Only that you be a saved, baptized child of God. For then you are part of the church, the body of Christ and thus are eligible to participate in the celebration.

And then there’s what you should do:

As we’ve already heard from Paul, each and every one of us need to examine our own hearts and if there is anything that you need to confess to God and ask forgiveness for, by all means, do so before you partake of the Supper. If you can’t do that, if there is something between you and God, which you just can’t get over, at this particular point in time, then better to pass the elements by for today, until you can deal with it, for we do not take this ordinance lightly, but sincerely and reverently, as well we should. And for that reason, we are going to go to prayer as I ask our trustees to come forward. We’re going to prayer to ask the Lord’s blessing on these physical elements, which represent our Lord’s broken body and we are also going to have a moment of silent prayer, where you may silently confess to God anything you need to get off your chest, before we proceed.

Pastor Stacy

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March 2, 2010 - Posted by | Sermon

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