Monday, April 14, 2014

According To Luke: A Last Supper

According To Luke: A Last Supper
April 6, 2014

Today we continue our look at Jesus' last week according to Luke.  Today we are looking at the story that takes place on what we commonly call Maundy Thursday.

Once again, as we read Luke's version of this story it is pretty clear that Jesus had made arrangements for the Disciples to carry out his plans.

If we look at the preceding verses from our text this morning we find these words:
(Luke 22:7-13 The Message)
The Day of Unleavened Bread came, the day the Passover lamb was butchered. Jesus sent Peter and John off, saying, “Go prepare the Passover for us so we can eat it together.”

They said, “Where do you want us to do this?”

He said, “Keep your eyes open as you enter the city. A man carrying a water jug will meet you. Follow him home. Then speak with the owner of the house: The Teacher wants to know, ‘Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?’ He will show you a spacious second-story room, swept and ready. Prepare the meal there.”

They left, found everything just as he told them, and prepared the Passover meal.

What is unusual about this story?

First, as I already said --- Jesus seemed to have prearranged everything.
The disciples are supposed to meet a man who has already secured a location for Jesus' Passover meal

Secondly --- there is a very confusing request --- the disciples are supposed to meet a very specific man: "A man carrying a water jug" --- the only problem is: Men didn't carry water jugs --- that was women's work.

There is the possibility that this man who offered Jesus the "upper room" so that he could share in this Passover meal with his followers  --- that he could have been a member of the Essene community.

There were four primary groups in Israel at this time:
Elite group who wanted to maintain the priestly class

Believed in the oral law --- spiritual fathers of modern Judaism

Desired to overthrow Rome any way possible


The Essene's were an ascetic movement.
There life was one of self-denial
They lived communally --- sharing their resources
So they had no money
no luxuries
they abstained from women
They lived in the desert in community with their fellow Essenes
They believed the Temple and it's priests were corrupt

The Dead Sea Scrolls are believed to be written and collected by an Essene community that lived at Qumron in the desert down by the Dead Sea.

It is intriguing that Jesus might have had some relationship with the Essene community --- but the truth is --- we just don't know.

Regardless, our story this morning tells us a great deal about Jesus and his dream for God's Kingdom.

Luke 22:14-20    (NRSV)When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. 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 until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” Then he took a loaf of 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 he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood."

Right away you probably realized that Luke talks about two cups, he is the only Gospel writer that does that, but he is probably relating it to the four glasses of wine that are found in the Passover Seder meal.  
But again --- we are not really sure.

But some things to note, Jesus says to his followers:
"I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you"
The Message translates it:
"You’ve no idea how much I have looked forward to eating this Passover meal with you"

Luke more than any other Gospel --- stresses Jesus sharing in a meal with other people.
By eating with outcasts --- Jesus has shown his solidarity with them
Jesus had publically crossed the social barriers that divided the righteous from the outcasts
Jesus had embodied God's love to them

One of the things that is interesting is because of the significance of meals in Jesus ministry and the experience of the early church fasting has never been as significant a part of the Christian experience as eating together.
Originally the Lord's Supper was a part of a complete meal not just a morsel of bread dipped in juice.

Right after this story --- Jesus is going to remind the disciples that they are to serve on another.

And so, we provide a meal following a funeral to show our love for one another and to remind each other that in the midst of grief God is there in the fellowship of one another.
Truly that is what it means to commune

As Jesus shares both the bread he tells us we are to remember.

Just as the Passover was observed "so that all the days of your life you may remember the day of your departure from the last of Egypt" (Deuteronomy 16:3) --- so also when we share in the Lord's Supper we do it in remembrance of Jesus.

And what is it Jesus wants us to remember?

His life and ministry --- In another word HIS LOVE FOR US

Following the bread, Jesus offers the cup and he tells us"
"This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood"

This goes back again to the Exodus Passover ceremony described in Exodus 24:8
Exodus 24:8    (NRSV)Moses took the blood and dashed it on the people, and said, “See the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

Jesus by evoking these words was reminding us of the prophetic promise found in Jeremiah when he said:
Jeremiah 31:31, 33 (NRSV)The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

And what does this new covenant mean to you and me?
It means that we are forever in a relationship with God.

When we share in this Last Supper with Jesus we are reminded once again that nothing can separate us from the love of God.

We are forgiven and invited to God's table.

There is a wonderful story about the late Cardinal Sin of the Philippines.

When Cardinal Sin was a bishop, a young woman in his parish claimed that she had visions of Jesus.

Bishop Sin was given the task of determining if these visions were authentic.

He interviewed her and when he did, he made this request:
"Daughter, the next time you see Jesus, would you ask him what sin your bishop committed as a young priest and then come and tell me His answer."
She agreed

The Bishop knew that nobody knew his sin except himself, his confessor and God

Months later the woman returned reporting that she had seen Jesus again.

"Did you ask Him about my sin?" He asked her?
"Yes" she said
"What did He say?"
"He said, 'I've forgotten.'"

I love that story!

The challenge for us is not that we grasp fully the meaning of Jesus' last supper --- but rather that we open ourselves to the full extent of its power to change us and create intimacy among each other --- the outcasts --- our Jewish heritage --- other Christians and Jesus whom we worship.

The question Jesus wants us to wrestle with as we leave this place today is:

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