Thursday, March 28, 2013

Your Lord Is the One Who Serves

Maundy Thursday
March 28, 2013
Tonight we will meditate on three things our Lord teaches us about the Holy Supper He instituted the night in which He was betrayed. One, that the means by which He serves us are humble means. Two, that when He serves us it is always bound up in His laying down His life for us on the cross. And three, these two are then bound up in the new life we live because of His serving us, in which He forgives us and calls us to serve.

The Gospel reading tells us of the One who serves. The first thing we learn about our Lord is that He is the one who serves. Consider, what the Scriptures tell us of our Lord is that He is going to come. Immediately after Adam and Eve fall into sin there is the promise. The promise of the one who will come. The one who will serve. The one who will forgive sin. This is the first thing we learn about our Lord, He is the One who serves.

We learn also how our Lord serves. It is through means. Now the thing about means is that it is automatically a humbling thing. To use means means that you are not working directly, but rather through something. Through means. Through something other than simply bringing it about. And so we learn about our Lord in His serving us that He serves us by humbling Himself. This is first and foremost in the means of flesh. God became a human being. Our Lord came to serve us by taking on human flesh. This is the means. This is the way our Lord has come and we see that He is the forgiving God and the serving God.

The Old Testament reading shows how God follows this pattern. He institutes the Passover. A lamb is slaughtered. There is forgiveness of sins. He delivers His forgiveness to His people through means. A lamb’s blood is shed, the Israelites’ God is serving them, forgiving them, through these means.

It was at the celebration of the Passover, John tells us in the Gospel reading, that Jesus was observing this meal, as had been commanded by God. The Epistle reading tells us the means our Lord used to do what Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell us Jesus used to institute a new Meal. The means were bread and wine. The means our Lord uses to serve us, to forgive us, are humble means. First taking on flesh, then taking on bread and wine. Bringing the fullness of His divinity into a human body, then bringing that very body and blood into bread and wine. The very nature of serving is humility. And so our Lord uses humble means to bring Himself to us.

The second thing we learn is that His serving us is intricately bound up in His laying down His life for us. It was on the night when He was betrayed that Jesus took bread and that He took the cup. In giving these to His disciples He was giving them His body and His blood. The bread and the wine were the means through which He was giving them the very body and blood that would be offered in sacrifice and shed the next day on Calvary. You can never separate your Lord’s love for you from His suffering and death on the cross. He loves you and serves you and forgives you, and it is in giving you the forgiveness and salvation He secured in His laying down His life that He loves, serves, and forgives you.

When you receive the Lord’s Supper you are receiving the body and blood of Christ. The Lord’s Supper is the very means by which you are forgiven; by which you are strengthened in Christ’s body He offered on the cross and His blood He shed on the cross. You were not present at Calvary. He secured there your salvation. Just as He came in the womb of Mary, He came to Calvary to purchase for you everlasting life.

In the same way He comes to you at this altar. He comes to you in bread and wine. You were not present at Calvary, but Calvary comes to you here. His body was given into death and His blood was poured out there, even as it is now given here in this bread and poured out for you in this cup. Your serving Lord works to forgive you to bring you what He accomplished on the cross.

The third thing we learn is that these two are then bound up in the new life we live because of His serving us, in which He forgives us and calls us to serve. As we consider our Lord and His serving us we are humbled to see that He serves us through humble means. When we see how our Lord serves us we see that it is always connected with His suffering and death. In this way, then, we see what it means that we have new life in Christ. First, that He forgives us and saves us eternally. Second, that He calls us to live this new life in service.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell us of the institution of our Lord’s Holy Supper, as well as does Paul in the Epistle reading. In tonight’s Gospel reading John shows us what happened after that. Guess what it is? It is our Lord serving us. That’s what He’s always up to. Always serving, always forgiving us, always giving us new life.

And so He took a towel and He got down on the floor and He washed His disciples’ feet. Note again the means He uses to do this. His own body. His own actions. Water, a towel. Humble means, humble service. Serving and cleansing in anticipation of His laying down His life for them on the next day. They are now clean. He has cleansed them. They have now been the recipients of their Lord serving them. They are now called to serve.

When we receive the Lord’s Supper we receive Christ. When we receive Christ we receive the call to serve. Having been forgiven, we forgive others. Having been the recipients of our Lord serving us, we serve others. Having understood that our Lord has served us in humble means, we go out and serve others with humble means. Our hands to help others in their need. Our mouth to give words of comfort to those hurting and brokenhearted. Our talents, our skills, our time, our treasure, all means we use to help and love and serve and forgive others. We have received Christ in this holy Sacrament, we are now called to be Christ to others. We are now the humble means our Lord uses to serve others.

And when you go from here ready to serve as you have been served, you will quickly realize that it is beyond you to do it the way you ought. You will readily see that more often will you fail to do for others what they need. You will wonder if you have really been cleansed. You will wonder if your Lord calling you to be the humble means used to serve and love others is really the best course of action.

And to this your Lord will call you again, extending again the invitation: Take and eat, this is My body, for you; take and drink, this is My blood, for you, the forgiveness of your sin. He instituted His Holy Supper for you. For your forgiveness. For your strength. For your consolation. For your new life, which is lived out in humble service. But also humble joy in knowing that He continues, always, to love, serve, and forgive you. Amen.


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