The twelve disciples sat meat around the Pascal board To eat unleaven bread and dine together with their Lord. And giving thanks He broke the bread and bade them all partake. "This is my body," Jesus said, "It's broken for your sake." And likewise, lifting up the cup, declared, "This is the new and lasting covenant for you." But when that all has ceased to sup, they argued ardently On who was greatest of the twelve, nor could they all agree. And whilst they argued among themselves the Master left His seat And taking towel and water washed the twelve disciple's feet. "To be the greatest," Jesus said, "you first must serve the rest. For he who serves his fellow men will surely then be blest." And when they'd sung an hymn and left the upper room to share An hour with their master as He agonized in prayer. Gathsemane was prelude to salvation's grandest hour, When time stood still as evil hoards unleashed their hellish power. 'Twas such a time when mortal's fate hung trembling in the scales, And all the universe was hushed to view our Lord's travail. Now when they nailed Him to the cross the sky grew dark with gloom. And when He breathed His last, they laid Him down in Joseph's tomb. Ah! But death could not confine our Lord nor hold Him in it's thrall, For early resurrection morn He heard His Father's call. And when the angel rolled away the stone, the Master rose A victor over death and sin and Satan's evil throes. Rejoice, O heavens! Sing O earth! for from death's loathsome prison The only begotten Son of God, our loving Lord is risen!
(Hymn of Praise: #647, Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory
This past week, I was unpacking a box of old books. You have to watch out for pastors. You know, some people have bad habits. Pastors have a habit of books. You should keep us away from book sales. It's just a bad thing. Andrews University was having a book sale from their library, and I just love ancient books, and I found... Well, it's not so ancient. Actually it's from the 1930's. I can't say it ancient: some of you are from the 1930's. Abbott's Webster's Dictionary. Obviously, this is a pocket edition. The pages are brown, in fact, the first few are missing, so I'm not real sure of the date this book came, but looking at the back there are several pages there that have facts and figures. This was printed in 1930 while some of you were children, teenagers, or even young adults. In the back of this dictionary are pages of facts, like, when states came into the Union and the population of various cities (Chattanooga had a population of 119,798). One of the neat sections is entitled: "What to do in case of accident." It's a little guide to first aid. I thought, well that's nice. It has some good advice. Listen to this: "Lightning. Dash cold water over person struck. Mad dog or snake bite. Tie cord tight above wound. Suck the wound and cauterize with white-hot iron at once, or cut out adjoining parts with sharp knife. Use whiskey freely internally." I noticed a number of these used the spirits, and it wasn't talking about Holy Spirits. How many of you keep whiskey in your first aid kit? Well if the mad dog didn't kill you, and the whiskey didn't kill you, you'd be okay. But if it did kill you, you could check to be sure the person is really dead, according to this. This is how to test to see if a person is really dead. "Tests of death. Push pin into flesh. If dead, the hole will remain; if living, it will close."
Times have changed, haven't they? As we have heard over the past few weeks, times are changing. Signs of the Last Days seem to be a daily occurrence. Knowledge has indeed increased. Knowledge has increased more in the lifetime of members of this congregation than in all the preceding years of Earth's history. If you've followed the prayer meetings and the worship services during the past few weeks you've heard about this increase of knowledge, an d in fact, we are afraid of our own advances. There is a panic in the world right now, called "The Y2K." We are afraid of our own computers that we have created. When the Bible talks about knowledge increasing, I'm not sure it's talking about scientific knowledge, though. I believe that could be included. But I believe it is speaking more along the lines of Biblical knowledge increasing. In the past hundred seventy years the increase of our Biblical knowledge in this world has just been phenomenal. We can tell by looking at what's around us what is taking place. We are left no excuse of ignorance. But even still, I look and I think, Could Jesus really be coming? Naw. Yes! I believe. We know from these Scriptures that the end is near. If we believe in the Scriptures, we know that it is at the door.
But there is a knowledge, to me, that is more important than scientific, even more important than our gains in Biblical knowledge. Has your knowledge increased about your Savior, Jesus? Has it increased proportionately with your increased knowledge of Scripture? After all, that's what it is all about! Has your friendship with Him increased this week? Are we more in love with last-day-events than we are with the Lord of the Last Days?
Jesus gave us the Communion service to help us keep His life and our lives in perspective. Look at Matthew 26:26-29. While they were eating, Jesus took break, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body." Then He took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 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 like that verse. Here we see that the "fruit of the vine" was to represent the blood that was poured out for the forgiveness of sins. But it also has another function. Look at verse 29 again. 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. Not only does wine represent the forgiveness of our sins from the blood of Jesus, it also points us to the Second Coming of Jesus. "I'm not going to partake of the again until I drink it with you.
"These are the things we are to never forget. The love of Jesus, with its constraining power is to be kept fresh in our memory. Christ has instituted this service that it may speak to our senses of the love of God that has been expressed in our behalf....It is only because of His death that we can look with joy to His second coming. His sacrifice is the center of our hope. Upon this we must fix our faith." (EG White Desire of Ages p. 660) Our faith is not to be fixed upon fulfilling prophecies, although that is a faith booster, but our faith must be fixed upon the death of Jesus to forgive us our sins, to give us hope of the Second Coming, to give us the hope of watching Jesus lift the cup for the first time in centuries.
Jesus said that he would not drink of the fruit of the vine until He drinks it with us. I believe the harvest in the vineyard is taking place in heaven. The grapes are ripe. I believe the grapes are being picked. He is tramping out the vintage in the wine press. I'd like to see that heavenly winepress. I wonder if the angels are getting grape stains on their robes as they're trampling this wine that Jesus is going to drink for the first time, maybe he's doing it himself. You can be guaranteed that it's the most wonderful fruit of the vine that has ever been produced because Jesus is making it.
But before He drinks that... let's go to Revelation 19 to see what must happen. I'm looking at verses 15 and 16. This is speaking of the Rider on the White Horse. Revelation 19:15,16 Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike dow the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS
After the nations drink from the wine of the wrath of God, we will drink from the wine of fellowship with our Creator!
I am looking forward to sitting at the banquet table in Heaven. I picture... there is great jubilation, but for a moment there is a hush as Jesus lifts the cup to His lips for the first time. The sigh from His lips after the drink will not be from the taste of the wine, but from the satisfaction of having you and me there to enjoy it with Him! The Great Controversy will be ended!
The cure for our sinfulness is the Blood of Jesus represented by this cup today. The cure for our sinfulness is the blood of Jesus, represented by the cup that we will take today . And just like the cures of the 1930's, it will kill you. You will die to self so that you can live for Jesus!
Representing the death to self is our foot-washing service , which we will do before we partake of the bread and the wine today.
Listen carefully. There are a number, who would like to participate as couples, but they don't like the staircase. We have made provision for you in the Primary 1 Room which is down the hallway to the left as you leave. So couples who don't like the stairs, we have room for twelve couples in that room. But you that don't mind the steps, we wish you would go upstairs to the Junior Room. For the men we have the Primary 2 Room as usual, and for the women, the Fireside Room as usual. When you come back it looks like there is plenty of room. It would really be a help to our deacons if you would sit in the center section. Let's divide as God blesses us at this time.
End of sermon.
And so we go to the various rooms to wash each other's feet. This can be a soul-searching experience as we see some couples smoothing over former controversies. Not only feet get wet sometimes, but also eyes. As each pair of foot-washers complete their tasks, they join hands and pray with each other, and give each other a good hug. And then we file back to the main sanctuary to our seats for the Bread and the Wine. The minister and deacons have filed in, now and Elder Crutcher and Elder Gettys uncover the trays and begin to break the bread. We have modified the service just a little bit. We put both the bread and the wine on the trays so that both may be taken at the same time.
Now that being done, Elder Crutcher begins:
In First Corinthians, Paul tells us, (1 Corinthians 11:23-26) For I received from the Lord what I have also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way after supper took the cup, saying, "This is my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
At this time, as the Elders kneel, let's bow our head to have a prayer upon the bread and the wine.
"Father, we are in awe of the sacrifice that you made in sending your only Son. Today we look at emblems of His broken body, of His blood that was spilled for each of us. And we cannot understand that kind of love. But Lord, even though we can't understand it, help us to accept it. And we will do this until you come. Father, we're looking forward to when we can see Jesus lift the cup, himself. Until that time, we pray today, that you will bless the bread and the cup, that this may be done for your glory, in Jesus' name, Amen." The trays are handed to the deacons who in turn serve the congregation. Then they come back in and are each served by the Elders as they take their place. And finally, each Elder serves the other.
Elder Gettys: "You are holding food in your hands. Some of us have not eaten any food since yesterday at supper-time, because we're fasting for "Net-98.
"Jesus has not partaken of the fruit of the grape since He left this world, since that night, as far as we know. I imagine he's a little bit thirsty for that. He would probably like to have that, and it probably won't be long until Jesus comes. And we can all drink it together. What a blessed day. Let's try to hasten that day by living the Christian life, by being closer to Jesus today than we were yesterday, by making sure of our relationship with our Savior.
"In the Communion Service, Jesus was surrounded with disciples. One of them was no good. He was not the same, because his heart was not the same. I think today, that if there is anything we need to pray for is for a new heart. That's the seat of all of our problems. Jesus told His disciples, as they considered the two emblems in front of them, that represented His body and His blood. Considering the bread, He said, 'This is my body which is broken for you. (and we all partake of the bread with Elder Gettys)
"In the same way, He took the cup after supper, and He drank from it, and He told His disciples, 'Drink ye all of it.' (and we all partake of the wine with Elder Gettys) Amen!
"After they sung a hymn, they went out, out to the Mount of Olives. And they were sent forth by God's blessing, and as we leave today, we have God's blessing. We are sent by God to live the Christian life. And we would like to sing number 407(Sent Forth by God's Blessing) as we are dismissed.
As we leave the service there are two deacons at the door to receive donations for our poor fund.
I find this service to be very inspirational and moving. It is sobering to go through the actions of our Lord just before He went on trial for mankind and was crucified for each one of us. He gave us His ultimate love. And it helps me to give my love to Him, too.
Bob Beckett, Editor of the sermons for McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church.
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last updated 12/15/98 by Bob Beckett.