On the Christian church calendar today is known as Maundy Thursday. It is the night we celebrate the institution of the Lord’s Supper, it is what is called the Last Supper. It is the night in which Jesus was betrayed by one of his own, one of his friends, one of his close knit group of people he spent three years with. It is on this night, the day before he was crucified upon the cross that Jesus instituted what is now called the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.
A sacrament is a sign and seal of our deliverance in Jesus. It is not a means of grace, that is of salvation. It is instead a way to be reminded and refreshed in the grace we have received in Jesus’ one and only sacrifice for us. It is a sign in that we point to to show that we have our sins forgiven by the giving of Jesus’ body and the shedding of his precious blood. It is a seal for us to show that we have this forgiveness in the lives of believers. It bonds us with Jesus.
This is communion: As the bread and drink physically nourish us, so as we take in the elements, we are spiritually nourished. We are fed. A physical act showing what is happening spiritually.
The hard part is that as believers come to the Lord’s Supper, we are to check the condition of our own hearts. We are to see where we need to have reconciliation, we need to see how we need to forgive as we have been forgiven. There is this idea of eating and drinking judgment upon ourselves if our hearts are not in the right place.
Yet this is the toughness of communion. We can check out own hearts but we can’t check the hearts of others.
The night in which Jesus was betrayed, he instituted communion, the Lord’s Supper. He did so sitting next to the ones who would betray him–Judas and Peter.
We tend to see Judas as the one who betrayed Jesus for a measly thirty pieces of silver. He is the one who led the Temple guards to where Jesus was at. He is the one who betrayed Jesus with a kiss on the cheek (a customary greeting of a close friend to another, we’d use a “bro-hug” today instead…so, Jesus was betrayed with a “bro-hug” you know, the one where you shake hands and then do the quick one handed hug and tap on the back thing, yeah, that’s the equivalent of kissing a friend on the cheek back then… but I digress). Jesus started communion sitting next to the dude that would totally stab him in the back (figuratively of course). And Judas went away and literally sold Jesus out.
Peter on the other hand betrayed Jesus indirectly. Peter said he’d fight to the bitter end with Jesus. Peter even brought a sword with him and when Jesus was arrested totally cut off the ear of some dude (I’m thinking he was aiming for the hand or shoulder…Peter was a fisherman, not a swordsman ya know). And then, after Jesus was arrested, Peter was warming himself outside the building where Jesus’ joke of a trial was being held. Peter was asked three times if he knew Jesus and three times he denied him. And when Peter realized what he did, he wept bitterly and ran away.
Both Judas and Peter betrayed Jesus. Both Peter and Judas were at the table when Jesus passed the bread saying “this is my body” and the wine saying “this is the blood of the new covenant.” And they took the bread and the wine. And they at and drank judgment against themselves.
Peter was reinstated, Judas hung himself. Did Judas feel remorse? I think so, but that’s for a whole ‘nother post one day.
Tonight’s Muandy Thursday and at our church we’ll be having communion. As we take the bread and the drink, I know my own heart. My wife knows my heart. My friends know my heart. But do others? Do I know the hearts of others? Not always. I have to trust that they do.
But the thing about the table of the Lord is the grace. It’s all about the grace.
There is the grace of God found in Jesus, a saving grace by faith not by what we do but by what God has done in Jesus. Jesus one sacrifice, a sacrifice once and for all for the complete forgiveness of all our sins, covers us, purifies us, makes us holy in ways we could never do ourselves.
Communion isn’t just bread and drink, it’s a feast. It’s a feast that was started in that upper room almost 2,000 years ago and will continue on until Jesus returns. And then the real partying will begin. The real feast will happen.
So, tonight, as we approach the Lord’s Table to partake in communion, we will see a glimmer. A glimmer of what happened all those years ago with Peter and Judas both sitting next to Jesus, and a glimmer of what will happen when Jesus comes again, and we’ll be sitting next to Peter and so many others (not sure about Judas, but again, that’s a whole ‘nother post).
So, what is the state of your heart? Do you have this forgiveness? Are you at a spot where you are ready to approach the Lord’s Table?
Remember, it’s not about what you’ve done. Peter and Judas both betrayed Jesus shortly after communion, Peter received forgiveness in whole despite himself. Receive and remember and believe this grace and salvation found in Jesus. And live.
Live in the toughness of communion and live and grow in the grace of Jesus Christ.