It was about the close of Jesus' ministry that He instituted the ordinances of the church. We read of the occasion in the book of Mark. I'd like to turn and notice that if you'd open your Bibles to Mark 14. We'll begin reading with verse thirteen. Mark 14:13-16. So He sent out two of His disciples, and said to them, "Go into the city, and there a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water: follow him."
"And wherever he goes in, say to the master of the house, 'The Teacher says, "Where is the guest room in which I shall may the Passover with My disciples?" ' "
"Then he will show you a large upper room, furnished and prepared; there make ready for us."
And His disciples went out, and came into the city, and found it just as He had said to them; and they prepared the Passover.
Now, this is really an unusual experience. Christ told His disciples to go into town. He didn't tell them any particular spot. He didn't tell them anything about this man other than he was bearing a pitcher of water. "You follow him and he"ll go into a certain house and then you ask the master of the house if we can use the upper room." Now, that's very unusual. Don't you think that really helped the disciples know that Jesus knew the future and they could really trust Him?
You know, I like those words, "and found it just as He had said to them." You know, dear friends, one day soon you and I are going to see the promises of Jesus fulfilled just as He had said.
So they made ready for the Passover. It was the custom of that day that at such a meeting there would be one that would wash the feet of the guests. Travel in that day was largely by foot in the dust and grime of the earth. But on that particular occasion there was no servant. And as the disciples looked around and saw the situation they began to wonder what was going to happen, because if there was no servant one of those present at the meeting usually served as a servant. So, they wondered who Jesus would choose to be the servant.
Now, James and John didn't want to be the servant because they had just asked for the highest place. And I suppose that the other disciples were kind of hoping that maybe Jesus would choose them because they were a little jealous that they had asked to have the highest positions in the new kingdom that thought Jesus was going to set up immediately. Perhaps some thought Judas should be the servant. And there was jealousy among them.
How would Jesus solve the problem? What would He do? Notice in John 13:3. Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose up from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself.
After that, He poured out water into a basin and began to wash the disciple's feet and to wipe them with the towel with which he was girded.
But when came to Peter, Peter said, "No, you're not going to wash my feet." Jesus said to him, "If I do not wash your feet you have no part with me." Peter thought a minute and then he said, "No part in this supper?" "No part." "No part in the covenant?" "No part." "o part in heaven?" "No part." Peter said, "Well, Lord don't just wash my feet then. Wash me all over!" Verse 10: Jesus said to him, "He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you."
And then Christ gave this instruction to His disciples, to His all of his followers, to you and me here today: John 13:13-17, "You call me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet for I have given you an example that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, happy are you if you do them."
Notice that He repeated the command three times that we should celebrate this ordinance of the foot-washing. And you notice He says, "Happy are you if you do them." You know, this should really be a happy occasion. Even though it's a time of humbling ourselves, it should be a happy occasion because we know that we have a Savior, we know that we are cleansed by His precious blood and that we have eternal life.
Yes, this service is a service of cleansing. It's a time of sincere repentance. That's why it is called the "Ordinance of Humility." It is a time of surrendering ourselves completely to God and accepting the forgiveness and the cleansing that He has provided. That is really the meaning of this service.
Jesus said, "If I do not wash you, you have not part with Me." So, as we partake of this Ordinance of Humility, it is an outward symbol that we have accepted, we have accepted in our hearts the cleansing that He provides. And as we do that we know that our sins are forgiven, and that He covers us His robe of righteousness and we stand before God as thought we had never sinned. We stand before Him in absolute perfection. Because in Christ we are perfect.
Yes, this is the meaning of this service. It's the symbol of this experience of cleansing through the blood, an outward symbol of an inward experience, of accepting and receiving that cleansing that He provides.
And when we do that then we are prepared to receive the Lord's supper. And as you partake of the emblems of the Lord's supper, the bread that you eat is assimilated into your body and it becomes a part of you. It becomes a part of your body. And the wine that you drink becomes a part of you. Paul said in Colossians 1:27, ...which is Christ in you, the hope of Glory" As the bread and the wine becomes a part of your body, they symbolize Christ dwelling in you. And how is that Christ dwells in us? We're told in that wonderful book, Desire of Ages, p. 677, (EG White), "It is through the Word that Christ abides in His followers." Through His word. You know, Jesus said in John 17:17, "Sanctify them through thy truth. Your word is truth." And Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). He is the truth. His word is the truth.
So, as you receive the bread and the wine, it is a symbol that you have received the words of Christ which are really His character in written form. It is a symbol that you are receiving Christ, His words. You know, we're told in Desire of Ages, p.677 that "The words of Christ are spirit and life." His words are spirit and life. They are His character in written form. And receiving them you receive the life of the vine. You live ...by every word that proceeds from of the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). Then Jesus said unto them, "Most assuredly, I say unto you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.
"Whoever eats my flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:53,54).
Notice He said, "Has eternal life" not will have it. "He has it," because as you receive His words, as you receive Christ into your life, that is the beginning of eternal life. You have it now. It is yours. And you can be assured that you have eternal life.
The Lord's supper is a symbol of this experience: receiving the words of Christ you receive the life of the divine.
Now, the Lord's supper also points to His second coming. This is a part of the purpose of this ordinance; To ever keep alive in our hearts the hope and the assurance of His coming. Jesus said in John 6:53,54, "Whoever eats My flesh eats and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." Notice he says, "...the last day," pointing to His coming. 1 Corinthians 11:26, For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes. He is pointing forward to the time when He will come in the clouds of heaven.
Jesus said there in Luke 22:15,16 Then He said to them, "With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." And then He said in Mark 14:25, "Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God."
He said to His disciples, "As you take this bread and this wine I will no more drink of the fruit of the vine until I drink it with you in My kingdom." Pointing forward in time that he would come in the clouds of heaven and take His family home, and then they would sit down and eat and drink together.
Now, the fulfillment of those words of Christ is found in Luke 12:37. "Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them." This is the observance of the Lord's supper. You know, one of the first meetings in haven will be to observe the ordinance. Notice it says, "He will gird himself." Christ says, "I have waited a long time for this."
You know, the disciples will be there, and perhaps they will arise and say, "Lord, Lord, let me serve. I want to serve." How different than back there at the first Passover with His disciples. But what does Jesus say? It says "and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them."
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He goes forth to serve.
Christ says, "I will not take part in this service until the family comes home. And you know dear friends, I'm quite sure they are preparing for that service over there right now. I'm sure they are making the preparations, and I don't believe it's going to be long until we will all go home and take part in that service. I want to be there, don't you? And this is my prayer today.
We're going to separate at this time for the Ordinance of Humility. As you remember, the ladies will go to the fireside room and the men to the room adjoining the fireside room. Married couples to the upstairs room and also down this hall to the right. Also another room for the men across the hall on the left. As you return to the sanctuary, please sit in the center sections so the deacons can serve you more easily.
Let us prayer.
"Heavenly Father, we are so thankful for that precious blood that was shed that we might have eternal life. As we partake of this Ordinance of Humility, may our hearts be humbled before Thee. May we, at the same time, rejoice that we can know that we have the gift of eternal life. Dismiss is now as we partake of this service in Jesus Name, Amen."
(Our church has open communion, that is, anybody is welcome to participate, whether they are members of our church or a non-Adventist church. The Ordinance of Humility, the foot-washing part of the service, may seem strange to some outsiders, but many have enjoyed and appreciated the service. Adventists feel that the Ordinance of humility really helps us prepare for the "Bread" and the "Wine" later. This is a precious time for all of us.)
(We separate to the various rooms where we wash each other's feet. As each couple finishes, they bow their heads and speak to God in prayer. For most of us this is a solemn service because it implies that we have asked forgiveness for any trespasses that we may have done and we want to have our hearts cleared of the guilt that may have accumulated there. Confession and forgiveness returns us to equality and we can again look our brother in the eye.)
(Everyone is returning to the sanctuary now, and the organ is quietly playing as we take our places. The ministers and deacons come down the aisle and take their places before the platform.)
Elder Bennett speaks: The reference to the first communion service, 1 Corinthians 11:23.. For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me."
In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." And that's what we do today.
I invite you to bow your heads as we pray.
"My heavenly Father, we're so grateful to You for what has been accomplished for us on the cross, the resurrection and for that intercessory ministry of the Holy Spirit in Christ. We thank you, Father, that by the grace of God we have been washed clean and we stand in Your presence today in all humility, but in all gratefulness and joy. Clean as though we had not sinned. I pray that You will seal You presence and purity in our lives. Help us as we leave this service to know that we have Jesus in our hearts and that we're lifting Him up wherever we go through the week that lies ahead. Bless these emblems that we receive that they will renew our commitment, our faith and our confidence in You, in Jesus Name, Amen."
(We have eight deacons who all stand and wait. The two ministers take the tops off the stacks of trays and break some of the bread. Then they hand a tray to each deacon. Then the deacons turn to pass out the emblems to the congregation. The trays contain both the bread and the wine, so each person takes both. When everybody is served, the deacons return to the front where they hand their trays to the ministers, each taking from their own tray their emblems. When the last tray is about to be put on the stack, the ministers each take turn taking their emblems from the other.)
Elder Anderson speaks: Jesus said, "Take, eat. This is My body which is broken for you. This do in remembrance of Me."
(And we all eat the bread together.) "Amen!"
Elder Anderson again speaks: He also said, "This cup is the New Testament in My blood. This do as often as ye drink it in remembrance of Me."
(And we all drink the wine together.) "Amen!"
(The tops are replaced on the stacks. And Elder Anderson reminds us that the deacons will be waiting for an offering for the poor as we leave. We sing one verse of Faith of our Fathers as the ministers and deacons file out.)
(I hope you have enjoyed following our service all the way through today. Bob Beckett, Sermon Editor for our web page.)
Hymn of Praise: #73, Holy, Holy, Holy Scripture: John 5:54 - 56 Hymn of Response: #300, Faith of Our Fathers
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last updated 6/26/2000 by Bob Beckett.