March 28, 2013
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: Matthew 26:17-19, 26-30
"The Lamb Provides A New Feast"
1. It also has a lamb.
2. It also has real blood.
3. It also delivers from death.
4. It also gives strength for the future.
Sermon: Matthew 26:17-19, 26-30 “On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?” 18 He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’” 19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover. 26While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” 27Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29I 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.” 30When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”
What do you think of when you hear the word “feast?” Is it something like Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter dinner? Something more extravagant than that? I can’t help but think of the pizza smorgasbord held at the Amber Lantern restaurant in the town I grew up in. All the pizza you could eat for $1.99 and it was good. I never could get myself to try the hotdog and pickle pizza though. In the worship life of God’s people God has always provided a feast. Old Testament worshippers had many. As Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament or Old Covenant and ushered in the New Covenant He provided the Church with a New Feast.
It happened at an old one. Jesus was celebrating the Passover Feast with His disciples. This was a feast. He said, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” Jesus wanted to feast with His disciples. He had a gift to give them. A new feast. In case you are not that familiar the Passover Feast for Old Testament believers was given to them by God to remember God’s great rescue of His people from Egypt. They were there in slavery. God wanted them out. Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt, didn’t want to lose his slaves so God made him want to by sending a series of plagues. The last plague was the plague of the firstborn. God sent the angel of death who killed the firstborn son in every household and of every animal in all of Egypt except for those who had the blood of a lamb smeared on the doorframes of their homes. The Israelites were to bake bread without yeast, unleavened bread, flat bread to eat and easily pack for the journey ahead. Every year after that the people of God were to celebrate the Passover feast. They used a perfect lamb and unleavened bread.
It’s interesting to note the similarities between the new feast and the Passover Jesus was celebrating with the disciples. For instance the new feast also had a lamb. The Passover lamb was to be a perfect or unblemished lamb. I’ve often wondered how the Old Testament fathers handled things with that lamb. Lambs are so cute, cuddly looking. They must have had some way of keeping the kids from being tied to that lamb that would be killed. You could imagine the tears otherwise. The New Feast that Jesus gave to New Testament believers also has a lamb. Actually it has Jesus who is the Lamb of God. He is perfect in every way. Tempted like we are yet remained without sin. Is it possible that we could feel more sadness at the thought of a little lamb being sacrificed than the Lamb of God?
In both feasts sacrifice was necessary. And so was blood. Recently a mini series called “The Bible” has been airing on the History Channel. We are recording it at home. I’ve only seen parts of the one. It was the part that showed the events of Exodus, the plagues and the flight from Egypt. The director’s portrayal of that first Passover was interesting. Everybody needed some blood so the angel of death would pass over. So when they sacrificed the lamb they were careful to collect every drop in a bowl and then, almost like painting, they rushed to brush it on the doorframes. The new feast also has blood. By now you know that the new feast is the Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion. The Bible is clear that the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, that cleanses us from every sin is really present. So is His body. We know because He said so. 26While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” 27Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28This is my blood of the covenant.” You think of how careful the Old Testament believers were with the blood of the lamb. This is why New Testament believers are careful with the blood of the Lamb in the New Feast. We wait until children are instructed and matured. We learn how to examine ourselves before we receive. We practice close and closed communion so that someone doesn’t take the body and blood in a wrong way and to their judgment.
Because both feasts were not about bringing judgment but freeing from judgment. The blood of the lamb at the first Passover was used to spare the believers’ families from the Angel of death. He passed over those homes that had the blood of the lamb. No firstborn died. Later when Old Testament believers ate the Passover they also ate bitter herbs to remind them of how awful slavery was. They remembered how good it was for the bitterness of slavery to be gone. The New Feast of the Lord’s Supper also delivers from slavery, the slavery of sin and death. “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” The wages of sin is death, eternal separation from God. Forgiveness of sins frees us from paying those wages because Jesus Himself paid them for us. Just as the Old Testament Passover gave Old Testament believers a chance to remember what God had done for them the New Testament Feast given by the Lamb gives New Testament believers the chance to remember Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. But there’s more. The New Feast by a miracle of Jesus’ proclamation is not only a chance to remember but it gives forgiveness. What a feast!
And that makes us think of another way the feasts are alike. They both provided strength for the future. For the first Passover the people needed physical strength for their flight into Egypt. For the Old Testament believers the Passover Feast gave them strength to stay faithful to the one true God as they were living with idol worshipers all around them. They would remember God’s power and love. They would be reminded to wait patiently for the Lord’s salvation. The blood of the perfect lamb pictured the blood of the perfect Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world. Those who ate that feast with reverent hearts received strength to live the life of an Old Testament believer. The new Feast the Lamb of God has provided for us provides strength for our future to live our lives as New Testament believers. Jesus proves to us that He has forgiven us. He helps us remember that all our sins have been paid for. He assures us that His forgiveness is not like ours. His is complete and immediate. The cup becomes the cup of thanksgiving. Our hearts are filled with gratitude for God’s love and free forgiveness in Jesus. We leave the table motivated and encouraged to live the desire to go and sin no more, to serve the Lord with gladness. What a feast!
When Jesus gave the New Feast, the Lord’s Supper, He told the disciples that He eagerly desired to feast with them. May that be our attitude too, that we eagerly desire to feast with Him. Children, look forward to that day when you are instructed and confirmed. Adults, not part of our church family, why not do something to change that? Communicant members, Jesus’ invitation to feast with Him goes out regularly here, at least twice a month. Make plans to RSVP with a yes and gladly. Amen.