When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you.
For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
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.”
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.” – Luke 22:14-20
Today is Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday. It is the day on which our Lord established the Holy Eucharist or the Lord’s Supper. The word maundy comes from the Latin word mandātum, which means mandate or command.
On the night of the Last Supper, Jesus washed his disciples’ feet then he gave them a new command. He said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this, all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35
In celebrating the meal with his disciples, on the night before he died, Jesus was fulfilling the Passover meal and instituting a new meal. Instead of the flesh of animals, his own flesh, the flesh of the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, would be eaten. This was the new covenant.
This meal would celebrate a new exodus – the exodus from sin, death, and captivity to the devil. It will not be the blood of a lamb applied to door frames but the blood of Jesus shed on a cross, sprinkled on you at baptism, given to you to drink in this meal, and applied to your hearts by faith.
It delivers you from God’s judgment and eternal death. It guarantees you the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. This meal is not a memorial. Memorials are held for those who are dead. Instead, we celebrate an empty tomb.
Like Passover, in this meal, we remember. When Jesus instituted this meal, he said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” What do we remember? We remember his body and blood shed upon a cruel cross. We remember that he did it for us.
Yes! We remember, lest we forget, what God has done for us in Christ. Like the children of Israel, we remember not only our exodus from slavery, but that, now, by way of our baptism, we have been brought into Christ’s kingdom, in which we live under his gracious and merciful rule.
There is both a present and future reality to this kingdom. With the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the kingdom of God comes to us now through His Word and Sacrament.
By way of His word, He continues what He began at our baptism. It works repentance and faith in our hearts. We become sorry for our sins and trust in His promise of forgiveness, which causes us to live holy and godly lives.
Through His Holy Supper, He continues to nourish and strengthen us in the faith as He feeds us on Himself. In this way, God extends His kingdom of grace over us now.
He keeps us in the faith into which we were baptized until the day when He will come to receive us into His kingdom of glory. The Lord’s Supper is a foretaste of this supper to come.
It reminds us and gives us the sure hope that we will one day feast with Jesus in heaven. The blood of the Lamb of God has been sprinkled upon us in our baptism and we have been spared God’s wrath. We now live under Him in His kingdom of grace. Amen.
• Reverend Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at the Lutheran Church of Nassau, 119 John F. Kennedy Dr can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas; or telephone 426-9084; E-mail: email@example.com; website: www.nassaulutheranchurch.org.