Sermon delivered June 26, 1999

by Pastor Donald J Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.

The Upper Room

Luke 22:7-13 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John , saying, "Go and make preparations for us to eat the passover."

"Where do you want us to prepare for it?" they asked.

He replied, "As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, and say to the owner of the house, 'The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?' He will show you a large upper room, all furnished. Make preparations there."

They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the passover.

I'd like to speak with you about a verse or two in Luke 22 which was our scripture reading this morning. You can just leave your Bible open to that portion, that would be great. It's talking about the "Last Supper." It's also talking about the experience in the upper room. Jesus and His disciples were not rich. They didn't own a room, and so where would they hold the Passover? Well, it a wonder they ever remembered the Passover.

Jesus remembered special events. Despite all the hubbub of His last twenty-four hours of life, Jesus remembered the Passover. He remembered to have the Passover. Jesus did not leave the preparation to the last minute either. He was not a procrastinator. Do we prepare for the communion in advance? Do you remember it's coming? Or do you come here, Ah! It's communion ordinances today! Is your heart ready?

Now, they could have met on the Mount of Olives, outdoors, but Jesus foresaw the need for a building. Jesus and His disciples were poor. There was no money for rent. So where would they meet? Jesus had it all planned out. He always does. He know our needs before we do. He said there is a room waiting. When you see a man carrying a pitcher of water, follow him and He will lead you to the room. Now Jesus could have described the house and drawn a map on the sand. He could have said, just go down to Main Street and turn right and go a couple blocks and turn left, and it's the first house on the left. But He did not. Peter and John went out with Zero Idea as to where they were going. Each step was in total expectation of the fulfillment of the sign. "You're going to see a sign: a man carrying a pot of water." I don't know where he carried it. Maybe on a shoulder. Surely not on his head. That could never balance that jug. Did Jesus use a good indicator?

Jerusalem had a common well; one well for everybody. Everybody had to carry water. To carry a water-pot was a woman's duty. It wasn't a man's job at all. It was something no man ever did. To see a man carrying a jug of water would stand out like a man wearing a big woman's hat or something. It just wouldn't be normal. Men transported water in water skins that they could sling over their shoulders. Only women used clay jars. And so this was a very specific sign. We probably wouldn't think much of it. But it was a great sign.

Now, the room was free. It was a law in Jerusalem that during the passover all lodging in Jerusalem was free. The trouble was that everybody was looking for a location for their own passover.

Verse 13 says the disciples found things exactly as Jesus said they would. Large Jewish houses had upper rooms. Such houses resembled a small square box placed on top of a bigger box. That's about what the upper room was. Access was gained by an outside stairway.

Once they located the room they must prepare it for the gathering. To do that, the very first thing they would do was to have a Leavening Hunt because you can't have any leaven in the house. Every particle of leaven must be banished from the chamber. They would really have to sweep out the house. Leaven represented fermentation or putrefaction. SIN! And every particle of leaven must be banished from the chamber. It represented fermentation or petrification. It represented sin.

Today, in 1999, when we get ready for our communion do we have a sin hunt? We should, shouldn't we? Look at I Corinthians 11:28 Paul emphasizes: A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. Examine for what? Like they went through that room, looking for leaven, cleaning out any leaven that might be in there.

We need to get rid of sin in our lives. We need a sin hunt. Search our hearts for known sin and ask God to forgive that sin and give us the victory over it. I want to live a victorious life. Is there sin in your upper room today? You may say, "I don't go out and do sins." What do you think about them? Do you meditate on sin. Do you think, "boy, I wish I could..." You know. We need to get rid of the sin in our upper room, don't we. Before this service, you should pray like David did in Psalm 51:10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Don't let sin jeopardize the quality of today's potential blessing. You came to the Lord's table today for a blessing. Pray that the sins of yesteryear will be vanquished in the Blood of the Lamb. They will be. He stands ready to blot them out. Pray for forgiveness. Believe Jesus will forgive you. Your prayers may go something like this: "Lord, I have sinned for the Zillionth time, I doubt if you can forgive me...." Don't pray in doubt. Pray, "I know you will forgive me. I want to be forgiven. Please forgive me. Thank you for forgiving me." Believe He will forgive your sins. Pray in faith.

I John 1:9, one of the most fantastic statement in the entire Bible. It says: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. That's what He stands ready to do.

So we need to come to the Lord's table, cleansed by the blood of the Lamb of God. And you will be ready for a rich blessing. I believe Peter did a good job of preparing the room but he did a poor job of making his own heart ready. He prepared the physical room, but he didn't prepare his own personal upper room. Shame on him!

If they could have just remembered the man that led them to this room. That man carrying that pot of water through the streets. One man standing out among so many. That one man showing that to serve is more important than to attain. Isn't that what it's all about?

Why do I come to the Communion today? To attain some big stature in my community? No. I come to serve one another, to serve you. You come to serve someone else. It's an Ordinance of Humility. I'm so glad that in the Seventh-day Adventist Church we have the Ordinance of Humility prior to the Lord's Supper. Now why do we do that? Jesus said, "You ought to do it." And it is true, it is not a command that we should do it, but when He says "ought" that's something that is more pleasing for me to do, I enjoy doing. He says, "Don, you should do this." Well, as a Christian I want to say, "Yes, Lord. I want to do what You want me to do." And that's why I'm here today.

So, let us take many lessons from this. Let's be like the man who was willing to carry the pot of water. There was a shortage of ladies or something and he carried that pot, and he led those disciples to the upper room. We can lead somebody to the upper experience. You can do that.

__________________________

Well, it's time for us to separate into the Ordinance of Humility. Before we do so we want to give you just a few little instructions then we'll have prayer. When you re-assemble, when you come back into this room, our deacons request that if at all possible, please do not sit in the outside wings. That will make it easier for them to serve you.

The ladies may go to the Fireside Room. The gentlemen may go to the Primary Two room. And the couples, if you desire, you may go to the Junior Room upstairs. A place for everybody. And Jesus, I know, will give us a rich blessing.

Shall we pray: Dear Father, some of us are sitting here with an experience that is not what it ought to be. I pray that you would cleanse away any sin in our hearts. Forgive us for the mistakes we have made. Give us an attitude like that of Jesus Christ. Help us as we go through this service today to gain spiritual strength that we need, because we are living in the last days. We believe Jesus is coming soon and now is not the time to drop back. So, bless us. Help us to climb that stairway to the upper room, to have the sin hunt and to have the full communion with Jesus that is available. We pray this in Jesus' name, Amen.

Let us separate at this time.

(And so each person heads for the appropriate room. On this side I see a husband and wife hugging and in tears as they settle some difference. Over there are two ladies talking very seriously and then they head for the Fireside Room. This is a time of reconciliation and it gets sealed by washing each other's feet. My wife and I go up stairs and we find the pans and towels all ready for us. My wife slips her shoes off and I kneel before her and wash her feet, those dainty feet. In a few minutes I take the pan of water to the deacon and pour it into a tub and then get a re-fill and a towel for my wife to use on me.

The realization that this is an outward demonstration that we recognize each other as equals in every way is a sobering thought. When we are finished we have a little prayer together and hug and hand in hand we return to the sanctuary for the Lord's Supper.)

The service continues, one of the Elders speaking: "We're reminded of the events that transpired that last evening by the words of Paul. (1 Corinthians 11:23 cf. New King James Version) For I have 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 to the cup after super, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."

For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes.

"May I invite the congregation to kneel as we pray. Our heavenly Father, thank you for this privilege of being in Your presence to commune in a very intimate way with you. We are receiving through these emblems the body and the blood of Christ. We are so undeserving but we are thankful that You have washed our sins away as we confessed them before and during the foot-washing service. And though undeserving as we are we stand clear in Your sight as though we had never sinned. What joy, what rapturous peace that brings to us. I pray that You will accomplish your mission in us, keep us ever focused on Jesus and as we leave to go back into the highways of life after today may we be kept by the mighty power of Jesus, know victory day by day until we meet you in the supper You will serve us in Your kingdom, in Jesus' name, Amen."

The deacons are now passing out the bread and the cups of grape juice. When they finish they return to the front where they in turn are served as well as the pastor and the elder.

Pastor Gettys: "What an important sacrifice Jesus made. What a wonderful sacrifice. The only way we can get to heaven through His blood, through the gift of His body. Jesus said, concerning the bread which is a symbol of His body, He said, 'take, eat. This is my body.'"

And we all take the bread and eat it.

Pastor Gettys: "Amen! In the same manner He took the cup. And the cup of course, represented the blood of the passover Lamb. Jerusalem was a bloody place at passover time. I have never killed an animal on purpose in my life, have you? It must be a terrible thing to kill one of God's creatures intentionally. They had to do that. And we're told that in the creek outside of Jerusalem the water ran red during the time of the shedding of so many sacrificial offerings. At passover time Jesus' blood was also shed. It was shed there on the cross. It was shed for you. It was shed for every human being that has ever lived. The precious, priceless blood of the Lamb of God paying for my sins completely. Jesus instructed His disciples, 'Drink ye all of it.'"

And we all drink the wine together.

Pastor Gettys: "Amen! Now what I have is an empty cup. Its contents have been transferred into my very being. What I just drank is going to become a part of me, isn't it? And just so, if you drank of Jesus Christ, He becomes a part of you. Soul and Body. I long for that experience, because I want to be like Jesus. And this can help me. I appreciate you coming today. The Bible says that after the Lord's supper on that Thursday night almost two thousand years ago they sang a hymn and then they went out to the Mount of Olives and Jesus was arrested, tried illegally, and hung on a cross. What an experience. The last thing they did together was sing a hymn. Let us sing Hymn number 350, and after we finish singing this there will be no benediction and as you go out there will be deacons posted to collect money for our assistance fund to help needy members."

And we sing, Blest Be the Tie that Binds.

Opening Hymn: 370 Christ for the world
Scripture: Luke 22:7-13
Closing Hymn: 350 Blest be the Tie that Binds

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