Today is the Communion service, and I am just glad you're here. God intended for you to be here today or you wouldn't be here. Is He in charge of your life?
On our pulpit is hanging a replica of one of the most valuable crowns in the entire world. It's not studded with jewels. I suppose that if we had the original crown that was on Jesus head, it would be an object of worship. But we don't. But it was valuable because it was utilized as an instrument in procuring our salvation.
Our text, this morning, is Matthew 26, and we're going to be reading from verse 26, and this is the record of Jesus and the last supper. Now, if you were eating your last meal, do you have any idea of what you would eat? Cholesterol would be no object, right? You could eat a whole half gallon of ice cream. And I think I would get a bag of potato chips and eat the whole thing. That's not what Jesus did. He did something that was meaningful for future generations.
Look at Matthew 26:26. While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body."
I was conducting a communion sermon, and afterwards we were at the table and we broke the bread. After the entire service was over, a lady came up to me and she was horrified. She was not a Seventh-day Adventist. She said, "You broke the bread! Why did you do that? You can't do that!" I said, "Well..." And I read in the Bible what happened here. By the way, do you know why we break the bread? In the passover feast it was broken to remind the Jews that slaves never had the luxury of a complete loaf. Slave always, which they were in Egypt, had to eat bits and pieces. Today the bread is broken to remind us that Jesus Christ's body was broken on the cross. That's why we eat this. We remember what happened to Him. He died of a broken heart.
Now, at the last supper they had a very small menu. And I don't think butter was on the menu. I don't like eating dry bread, do you? I'm glad that the Bible says that bread and our water will be sure. I almost wish it says that the peanut butter would be sure. He didn't use butter, so what did they do for this dry bread? They dipped it. They dipped it in a sauce. It's still the custom in the Middle East to do this. The sauce is often made of stewed fruit or bitter herbs, or a combination. They would dip the bread, and that's why in another passage of the Bible it's called the sop (see John 13:26 cf.). They sopped up that moisture and ate the bread. For each person to dip out of the same saucer was very meaningful. What it basically meant is that you and I, all of us that is doing this, are saying by doing this tat we are in unity. We're old friends. We're going to share each other's germs here. We're going to share everything. We would die to protect each other. WE are a bonded unit. We're going to be loyal to each other until death.
And so, for Judas, to be disloyal to Jesus just a few minutes after that was the height of low-down venom. Extremely bad. Because he dipped his bread in the same saucer that Jesus used.
Let's go to verse 27. Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you." Jesus offered it to all, everybody that was there. Were they all perfect? No, they weren't, were they. Were all of those who were there qualified to participate? No, they weren't. And yet, they were. What qualifies us? Our need, and our willingness. Of course, Judas was never qualified, but he was invited to participate, and he did participate.
Look at Matthew 26:28 "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." At that moment Jesus Christianized the Jewish Passover feast. Do you see how He did it? He said, "These symbols no longer represent something that happened back there in Egypt in the Passover. They now represent My blood and My body." So it became a Christian symbol. That's why we do it today. The bread and grape juice now represented Jesus' body and Jesus blood.
"I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom." I wonder if He drank an exceptionally large amount that night. Remember when He was on the cross? He made a request, "I thirst." What was the last thing He had to drink? Probably that communion grape juice. I wonder if He knew He would be thirsty. I wonder if he drank an exceptionally large amount, the last moisture, the last time He would ever drink it. Jesus has never tasted grape juice since that day, but he will taste it again with you, with us in His kingdom.
Matthew 26:30. When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Now, what do you picture here? Do you picture them taking a hymnal and opening it to a hymn and singing? Did they have hymnals? No, probably not. Do you picture them singing one hymn here? one verse? or may all the verses of a particular song? No. Actually what they sang was a Hallel. Before the meal they sang Psalm 113 and 114. The entire section from memory. After the communion service they sang the rest of it; Psalm 115 to Psalm 118. All of it from memory. Six whole chapters of the Bible were sung from memory.
Can you imagine Jesus singing! I picture Him as preaching. It says, "They sang had sung a hymn." Jesus singing. Jesus was a singer. He sang in the carpenter shop. He was a singer. The last thing He ever sang. As Jesus faced the cross, He faced it with singing. Now, what does that tell you? Are you getting a picture of our Savior here? He did that so that I can sing in sorrow's darkest hours for Don Gettys. Whenever you face trials through Jesus Christ you can have a song in your heart. You don't have to go in that thing dead. Did Judas sing? Judas opted out of that song service because he went out after that meal to do his business. He needed to make some money so he could buy a tree to hang himself on later. He was not there for that song service. He lost his psalm and he lost his Savior.
Today, I want to tell you that the Savior is right here every bit as much as He was there at the last supper. He's here today, at this table. In fact, you see three chairs here. The center chair is not empty. We reserve that as a symbol of the chair of our Savior, because he's in charge. Christ is the Minister of the McDonald Road Church. I want you to visualize Jesus Christ being here and having communion with us. When You're washing somebody's feet, you visualize Jesus washing your feet. That's what He wants to do. He wants to wash your heart, your life.
We're going to separate and go into the foot-washing service here today. We have areas for couples, we have areas for men, for women. When you come back, we encourage you to sit in the center section if possible so the deacons can serve you more easily. We're going to go out and celebrate what Jesus did. He washed their feet. And it isn't me washing your feet, or you washing my feet, Jesus is going to wash your feet here today through another person, and through you. His hands become your hands.
We're going to separate after prayer. If you are a couple and want to participate together, you may go up the stairway to the Junior Room or you may go down the hall to the Primary Room. We have the Fireside Room for ladies, and we have a room between which is reserved for men. So, there's a place for everybody. If you choose not to participate, you may stay right where you are at. We encourage all of you to participate.
Let us pray: "Dear Father in heaven, You must have longed to give Jesus as drink as He was thirsting on the cross, and yet You did not. And I know that today You long to give us eternal life. And today, You can. In pray that each person will have a moving and meaningful experience in the foot-washing service and as we return here to eat the bread and drink the cup together. Bless us pray in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen"
(We go to the various rooms for the foot-washing. In each room there are pans with water and towels ready for each pair of participants. We take turns washing each other's feet. But what's this? A man has brought his two children in with him. He's washing their feet in turn! And now they, side by side, are washing his feet!! Oh, I understand. He's teaching this to his children as well. As you can see, our communion service is not restricted to certain people, but is open to all, even children.
I hear singing as people wash each other's feet. I see people hugging each other with tears in their eyes. And prayers.
Now we have returned to our seat in the sanctuary. The organist has been playing quiet music for those who remained here. Now the service continues.
Elder Gettys and Elder David Turner lead the deacons down the aisle to the front, David to the left and Elder Gettys to the right, and the deacons lined up on both sides.
David Turner: "I'd like to read from the Scriptures. First Corinthians 11:24-26 (KJV). And when He had given thanks, He brake it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me." After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me." For as often as ye eat this bread , and drink this cup ye do shew the Lord's death till He come.
"Before we have our prayer for the bread, the wine, as we kneel, I'd like for us to be silent for a moment and examine our own hearts and prepare ourselves for the prayer. Let us kneel at this time." Silence for about one minute.
"Our gracious Father in Heaven, It is a privilege to kneel in this special place for the special service. We open our hearts to You. We're so grateful for You love, You kindness, but most of all we are grateful for Your Son, Jesus. It's hard for us to understand how far He came to save us. He gave up everything to walk with us, and we respond to that love today. In our mind's eye we see Him nailed to the cross. We realize that He couldn't bare to lose any one of us. That's why He displayed that steadfast love. And so, this morning we ask your blessing on these special symbols, the bread, representing His broken body which was broken for each one of us here. WE also ask You blessing in the wine. In our mind's eye we can see His blood dripping, dropping on the ground. We're so thankful today that it covers our sins. We ask forgiveness in a special way today. We ask that His robe of perfect righteousness be placed about us. Bless each aspect of this service for we pray it in the name of our Redeemer, Jesus. Amen."
David and Don have uncovered the bread and are now breaking the bread. They take the trays with the bread in the middle and the little glasses of wine around the bread and hand each tray to a deacon. The deacons take these symbols to each person in the congregation and return to the front. As they hand the trays back to the elders, they are given a chance to take some bread and wine for their participation. Finally the elders serve each other. Elder Gettys continues:
"Symbols are very important, and what you are holding in your hand is certainly important. But the reality is that you can eat this bread and you can drink this cup and still be lost. Pray that God will come into your heart in a special way today. This is a special service. The Holy Spirit, I think, comes into these services more than any other. No service has any more meaning than this one. An I, certainly, as a pastor, as a preacher, I need the Spirit of Jesus Christ in my life. And you need Him in yours. "So, as we partake of these symbols, as you are doing that, pray that God will make that real to you and come into your life, and give you what you need.
"The first one we would like to consider is the bread. You are holding in your hand that symbol that represents Jesus, His body, which was broken. As we partake of this, I want to participate in that broken experience, that I might not be broken, that I might be whole. Jesus said, 'Take, eat. This is My body.'"
At this time we all eat the bread together. And I think of His body being broken for me.
"I'd like to share one more thing with you. That is the experience of the cup, which represent Jesus' spilled blood. His blood poured out onto the ground, the clay. Who are we? We are clay. Unless that blood pours out on me, I don't have an experience. I want to be covered with that blood. My life of sin blotted out, enriched by the blood. Those of you in medical work know that blood transfusions should bring strength, and this can bring strength to you, too. Strength to live the spiritual life.
Jesus said, 'Drink ye all of it.'
And we all together drink the wine. And I think of His atoning blood washing away my sin.
"You may place the cup in the back of the pew if you wish.
I would like to just do one other thing before we close this service. I would like for you to look at the table cloth. This is pure linen. This was dry-cleaned and ironed. Fifteen dollars was paid to make this perfect. If you look at it carefully, you'll see that it's wrinkled. It was brought here on a hanger. The best of intentions result in a wrinkled table cloth. I sincerely thank those who did their best, better than I would have done. I believe that our lives are represented by this. We can be baptized, we can be on fire for Jesus one moment and then the wrinkles come later. That's why we need this communion service. To blot out those things that have come into our lives since the time we were at the cleaners, since the time of our baptism. We need this service. There's a rich experience in this table cloth. And maybe this is a lesson meant for us today. So I just had to bring that out to you.
"The disciples went out to the Mount of Olives and sang a hymn. We're going to do that. We're going to sing our closing hymn. Then as we go out, we are going to participate, if you have been blessed and want to share in our assistance fund, the offering that is used to help people in need."
Hymn of Praise: #154, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross Scripture: Matthew 26:26-30 Hymn of Response: #350, Blest Be the Tie That Binds 010324DonGettys#495
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last updated 3/27/2001 by Bob Beckett.