It was about the close of His ministry that Christ instituted the ordinances of the church. Of course you know what they are. First of all there's baptism. And then there are the ordinances we are here today to celebrate. We read of the occasion of the institution of the ordinances over in chapter fourteen of Mark. We're told in Mark 14:13-17: He sendeth forth two of His disciples and saith unto them, "Go ye into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water: follow him. And wheresoever he shall go in, say to the goodman of the house, The Master saith, 'Where is the guest chamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples?' And he will show you a large upper room furnished and prepared: there make ready for us." And His disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover.
Now it was the custom of that day that at a meeting such as this there would be a servant there to wash the feet of the guests. Traveling that day was largely by foot in the grime and dust of the earth. But on this particular evening there was no servant. As the disciples were sitting there in the upper room they began to wonder who would Christ choose to be the servant. Now James and John, they certainly didn't want to be the servant because they had just asked for the highest place in the kingdom. And the others probably would have liked to have seen James or John chosen, because there was a little bit of jealousy there. Some perhaps thought that Judas should be the servant. And there was a rather strange silence. How would Jesus solve this problem?
We read what He did in John 13:3-5: Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside His garments; and took a towel, and girded Himself. After that He poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded.
Then Jesus came to Peter. You remember, Peter said, "Thou shalt never wash my feet." And Jesus answered, "If I wash thou not, thou hast no part with me. Peter seemed a little startled. No part in the supper? No part! No part in the covenant? No part! No part in heaven? No part! Simon Peter said, "Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!" But Jesus said, "He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all."
Then Christ gave this instruction to the disciples, and to you and me, and those of us who are here today. John 13:13, Cf: Ye call me Master and Lord; and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.... If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.You notice, three times he gave the instruction: Ye also aught to wash one another's feet, for I have given you and example that ye should do as I have done unto you. And if ye know these things, happy are ye if you do them.
Now, this service is a symbol of cleansing. It is a time of humbling ourselves before God in sincere repentance. This is why it is called the Ordinance of Humility. It is a time of surrendering ourselves completely to God and accepting the forgiveness and cleansing provided by the precious blood of Jesus. Remember Jesus said, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me." You see, when we sincerely accept Jesus as our Savior, His righteousness in ours, and we stand before God as though we had never sinned. We are clean. This is the cleansing He provides for us. His blood was shed: our sins are forgiven. He writes after our name in heaven His perfect righteousness, and we stand before God, clean, worthy in Jesus.
As we have this experience in partaking of this service, this ordinance of humility, then we are prepared to receive the Lord's Supper: the Bread, and the Wine, which are symbols of His broken body and His spilled blood. Now as you partake of the emblems of the Lord's Supper, the Bread that you eat becomes a part of you. The wine that you drink becomes a part of you. You remember, Paul said, "Christ IN you, the hope of glory." (Colossians 1:27)
But now the question comes: How is it that Christ dwells in us? We partake of the Bread and the Wine. It's the symbol of Christ in us. Christ dwelling in us. That Bread and wine becomes a part of our body. How is it that Christ dwells in us? God tells us in the wonderful book, "Desire of Ages", p. 677, "It is through the Word that Christ abides in His followers." How is it? Through the Word. When you receive the Word, it becomes a part of you. As the Bread and the Wine becomes a part of you, the Word becomes a part of you. You see, the Word is Christ's character in written form. The blood is the life, the Word is the life of Christ in written form. And as you eat the Bread and drink the Wine, you are receiving the Word, you are receiving His character. It becomes part of you.
God's servant says of this experience, "It is this vital union that is represented by eating His flesh and drinking His blood that is through the Word that you receive. The Words of Christ are spirit and life. Receiving them you are receiving the life of the vine and then you live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
As you receive the Bread and the Wine it is a symbol that you have received the words of Christ which are His character.
And notice, we read in John 6:53, 54, "Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life ...." You have it already. As you receive Him as your Savior, as you receive His word, and it becomes a part of your life, then you have eternal life. And then Jesus said, ".... I will raise him up at the last day."
These ordinances we are about to partake of here today signify this experience in our lives. The words of Christ are spirit and life. Receiving them you receive the life of the vine.
Then over in Luke 22: Jesus said unto them, verses 15 and 16, "With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until; it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God." In Mark 14:25 He said, "I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God." He said, "I won't any more drink of the fruit of the vine until I drink with you again in the kingdom of God."
You know, the fulfillment of chapter 22 is found in chapter 12 of Luke in verse 37. "Blessed are those servants whom the Lord when He cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them." You see, this is the observance of the Lord's supper. One of the first meetings in heaven will be the observance of the ordinances. Notice the Scripture says, "...he shall gird himself." I'm sure that Christ will say, "I've waited a long time for this." The disciples will be there. Perhaps they will arise and say, "Lord let me serve." What a difference. But you notice the text says. "he shall...make them to sit down." And He goes forth to serve. The Lord Jesus, the same yesterday, today, and forever. He goes forth to serve. Christ said, "I will not take part in this service until the family comes home.
You know, I suppose that even today they are preparing for this service up in heaven. It is going to come very soon. I want to take part in that service, don't you? May the Lord grant that privilege to all of us.
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last updated 2/3/98 by Bob Beckett.