Monday, April 1, 2013

I Desire To Eat With You!

“I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”
Tonight we are reminded that Jesus is eager to eat and share this special meal with us.
In fact, not just tonight but every time we gather together Jesus desires to eat this meal with us.
On the surface it seems like a simple meal.
There is bread and wine.
But this meal has so much meaning for our lives of faith.
We know this because almost since the beginning of Christianity there have been disagreements over what it means to eat this meal together.
Different Christian groups have excluded others because they did not hold the same ideal of what it meant.

First of all it is a meal.
Jesus ministry is filled with meals.
He is always eating.
No wonder his opponents called him a “drunkard and a glutton”.
What is important about those meals is who Jesus eats with.
He eats with sinners, with religious figures, with friends, with enemies, with women, with men, with Jews, with non-Jews, with prostitutes, with jerks.
All of these meals are more than what we think.
To share a meal with someone in Jesus day was to call them friend.
It was a statement of status.
In our own day who we eat with matters if you think about all the people you share meals with.
I would bet that those are the people who are closest to you.
Those are the people you love and care about.
When Jesus ate with people that is what he said to them, “I love and care about you.”

Second, this meal that Jesus shares on his last night is more than the other meals.
It is Passover meal.
It is a meal that was celebrated because people wanted to remember God’s liberating act done for their ancestors.
It was a meal that reminded people of God’s activity in the world.
It was a meal that gave hope.
When the people of Israel experienced hard times they looked back to God’s saving act of delivering them from slavery and they were given hope that God would continue to act in their present circumstances.
If you have ever gone to a Passover cedar you know that it is all about what God has done and what God will do.
This last meal that Jesus celebrates looks forward to the next great thing that God is going to do in Jesus Christ.
And we need that too.
We need to remember the things that God has done.
In our own times we need to have hope that God will act again.
This meal helps us to remember that God is always forward looking.
In fact, Jesus tells his disciples that they will eat this meal again one day in the kingdom of God.
And now when we share this Jesus meal together we have a glimpse of that heavenly future.
When we share this meal it is a foretaste of the feast to come.

Thirdly, this meal is about a new covenant that God makes with us through Jesus Christ.
The prophet Jeremiah talked of a new covenant that God would make.
“You will be my people and I will be your God.”
It is actually really a continuation of the old covenant.
Because this is what God always desires is for us to be one with him and each other.
Jesus brings us into that relationship.
Through his body and blood Jesus keeps us ever connected to God.
That is the thing about Jesus special meal that it is the place we can go and know that he will be there waiting for us.
It is the place that even when we are lost, or sinful, or regretful, or guilty.
It is the place that we can let go of all the things in our life and regain strength from Jesus.
In the Old Testament it was blood that established community between God and human beings.
After Moses had read the law to the people and they agreed to follow the law he took blood and threw it on the altar and then the people to seal the covenant.
For us what seals our covenant with God is the blood of Jesus.
It is Jesus’ blood that established community between God and human beings.

Finally, it is Jesus way to say good bye to his disciples.
Good byes are hard.
It must have been hard for them to hear and hard for him to say.
But he also wants to leave them knowing that they now are part of this community that includes God.
So Jesus in this last supper encourages them, warns them, and instructs them.
Jesus knows that the days ahead will be hard.
They all will desert him, one will deny him, and another will betray him.
But he wants them to know that this is not the end.
That through all those things he will be there with them.
And even after the good bye he will be there for and with them.
When we come to this table when we eat this Jesus meal we are encouraged, warned, and instructed.
We are encouraged that we are not alone, that Jesus is with us.
We are warned that sin is always with us.
We are warned about difficulties that we all face in life.
And we are instructed to remember Jesus.
Remember the things he teaches us.
Remember the way he ate with sinners.
Remember the way he forgave and loved others.
This table is where we meet Jesus and are brought into community with him.

We also remember that none of us are greater than any others.
It seems that the disciples couldn’t figure that out at this meal.
Even though Jesus had been teaching about giving of your life all along,
Even though he was acting as the ultimate servant to them,
Even though his own life taught them that life is not about conquest but about service to each other they still didn’t get it.
So he gives them this meal.
This Jesus meal is Jesus way of reminding us of what he did for us, and what it does to us.
We are reminded of the blood that was poured out so that we might live in a community with God.

I don’t know if we think about all these things when we come to Jesus special meal.
I know that for myself sometimes I am overwhelmed at Jesus’ special meal.
I am overwhelmed by what Jesus did for me.
I am overwhelmed by the love that we share in our congregation with each other, and with others.
I am overwhelmed by the moment.
Other times well…I am thinking about an announcement I forgot to make at the start of the service.
Or I am distracted watching some kid do something funny.
Or I am just not in the moment.
What I always take solace in is that the first time Jesus celebrated this meal with his disciples none of them understood what was happening.
At that table there was nothing but imperfect flawed people.
People who were going to betray, deny, and abandon Jesus.
In other words, there never was some glorious perfect moment of spiritual understanding about this meal.
Instead, from the beginning it was a meal that Jesus desired to eat with us, because Jesus wanted to give us something very important.
Jesus wanted to give us hope for a better future.
Jesus wanted to encourage us to keep together and have faith in him.
Jesus wanted to warn us that having faith wasn’t always easy.
Jesus wanted to teach us to give of ourselves for the sake of others.
And finally Jesus wanted us to know that he has sealed our relationship with God forever through his body and blood.
So tonight come to Jesus’ special meal because he eagerly desires to share it with you.

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