Home > Holy Week > Maundy Thursday 2014 + In Remembrance of Me + 1 Corinthians 11:23-32

Maundy Thursday 2014 + In Remembrance of Me + 1 Corinthians 11:23-32

el greco the-last-supperMaundy Thursday + St. Peter Lutheran Church, Joliet, Illinois +

1 Corinthians 11:23-32 + April 17, 2014 +

“In Remembrance of Me”


Iesu Iuva

In your house you probably have a box of memories.  Maybe it has letters and pictures from your spouse when you were first falling in love.  Maybe it has pictures from your childhood.  Maybe it has fingerpaintings and other art work from your kids when they were little.


These are not treasures that anyone would pay much for.  They are valuable to you because you treasure the memory of your first child who made you the picture, because you love the person whose hand wrote the letter, whose image is caught in the photograph.  And because of this they are worth more than money.


God also had boxes like that.  One was the ark in which He put Noah and the animals.  He was sorry He made the world and He got rid of all the people in it.  But He wanted to keep Noah.  So He put him in the ark, and after the earth had been destroyed, He brought Noah out of the box.  And when Noah came out he made a sacrifice, and the Lord smelled the pleasing smell and promised never again to destroy the earth with a flood, even though man was evil from his youth up.


God had another box like this—the ark of the covenant.  And there God kept some mementos of when He had taken the people of Israel to be His people.  He wanted to keep them for the same reason you keep the baby photos of your first born child stored in an album or in a box in the closet.


That box with your kids’ memorabilia in it has significance.  You keep it treasured away because they are in your heart.  As long as you have such a box, it’s a fair bet that the firstborn child has a claim on your heart.


Is there any way that could change?  Probably not.  You’re always going to love that child who made the finger painting.


But what if the kid who made the finger paint landscape and the play-doh sculpture of a rabbit that looks like a warthog—what if that kid breaks faith and turns into someone else?


They come into your house high on drugs and try to use their relationship with you as a way to get money out of you?  They try to make a deal?


You’d still probably treasure the fingerpaintings, but you’d be angry at them for trying to use that child’s memory as a claim on you.  Because it would be false.  They would no longer be your child making beautiful, terrible art because they love you.  They would be someone pretending to still be that child in order to con you.


The child made the fingerpainting because they loved you and you loved them.  But the child who has broken faith is just using your relationship to get something else they love more than you.


That’s what the Lord’s relationship with Israel was like.  The ark of the covenant marked a time when Israel had covenanted to be God’s people.  He would bless them, provide for them, provide the priesthood and the divine service through which He would forgive their sins.  They agreed to listen to Him and live according to His commandments.

But again and again Israel became like the firstborn son trying to con his parents to get money for drugs.  They pretended to be the same people who had entered into the covenant with God, but in reality they were approaching His ark, the place where His Name and eyes and heart were, not wanting to be His people but to be their own people.


And whenever they did this, the result was not blessing but curse.  The Lord had told them during the Exodus from Egypt: If you will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in His eyes, and give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, your healer [Ex. 15:26].


But they were not faithful to His covenant, and they experienced curse instead of blessing, sickness instead of health, death instead of life, from the Lord’s presence.  Enemies oppressed them.  Plagues and famines overtook them.  David talks about the experience of the Lord’s presence becoming a curse instead of a blessing in the Psalms.  When I kept silent, my bones wasted away, through my groaning all day long, he says in Psalm 32, for day and night your hand was heavy upon me…And in another penitential psalm, Psalm 38, he mentions physical infirmity as the result of not being faithful to God’s covenant: O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath…for your hand has come down upon me.  There is no soundness in my flesh because of your anger, there is no health in my bones because of my sin…my wounds stink and fester because of my foolishness…and there is no soundness in my flesh (Psalm 38:1-7).


At the place where the Lord’s testament was remembered, He was present to bring healing to those who belonged to His promise.  But those who were near to the Lord and yet rejected or disbelieved the testament received sickness, curse, and death.



So it should come as no surprise that in the New Testament the same thing happens.  The church at Corinth experienced it when they had been eating and drinking the body and blood of the Lord in an unworthy manner.  People became infirm and weak and some died.  It should come as no surprise because Jesus said This cup is the New Testament in my blood.


How did they eat the bread of the Lord and drink His cup in an unworthy manner?  They didn’t use it in accordance with His Word by which He instituted it.


Paul reminds them what that was: What I received from the Lord I also handed over to you… Paul hadn’t received this teaching from human beings, but from Christ Himself.


And the Lord Jesus Himself on the night of His betrayal took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, This is my body which is for you.  This do in remembrance of Me.


Then in the same way after they had supped, Jesus took the cup and gave it to them and said This cup is the new testament in my blood.  Do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of Me.


Jesus said what the supper is and how it is to be used.  It is His body and blood, given and shed to fulfill the old testament, and it is for you.  And when we eat and drink it, we are to do it  “in memory of Him.”  Just the same as the Israelites were not to come to the temple without the intention to be His people and try to use His promises to con him.

But the Corinthians treated the supper as if it were just bread, and they were not remembering what Christ had done for them, just as the Israelites forgot the covenant the Lord had made with them.



He was slain to heal us

Because Jesus had given Himself up and allowed Himself to be handed over in order to save the ungodly.  He was rich and made Himself poor for our sakes, that in Him we might be rich.  We had nothing but sin and death, curse and disease.  The Son had nothing but righteousness, life, blessing, health, glory, and honor.  But He was incarnate; He became flesh.  And not only that, but He took on our sin, our curse, our dishonor, our death.


And it wasn’t for a few lucky ones, but for all people.  Isaiah prophesied it in verses that are probably familiar to you: Surely He has borne our griefs [or our afflictions, or our diseases] and carried our sorrows, yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.  But He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. [Is. 53:4-6]


The Lord told the people of Israel that if they listened to Him and kept His commands He would not bring on them any of the diseases and plagues He sent on the Egyptians when He set the Israelites free to be His people.  But the Israelites didn’t keep His commands.  So they experienced various kinds of plagues from the Lord’s hand.  David experienced it too: There is no soundness in my flesh because of my sin.


But Jesus handed Himself over to be plagued, chastised, mocked.  He bore our sins.  In the garden He trembled and prayed and sweat blood like a man with a terrible fever.  He was bearing our sin and its curse.


And as a result He healed people on earth from their diseases and afflictions.  That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick.   This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.  [Matt. 8:16-17]


What is it that takes away our sins and the wrath of God against our sins?  Jesus’ innocent suffering and death.  His body which was betrayed, spit on, mocked, flogged and torn, and nailed to the cross, pierced with a spear.  His blood that soaked the tree trunk of the cross and the floor of the Roman barracks.


That spilled blood and broken body laid in the tomb ends God’s wrath against our sins.  Where it is there is no more wrath; death passes over.  And that body and blood is not received simply by eating the bread of the Lord’s Supper the way you eat a normal meal or even a really important, expensive dinner.  It is received by faith alone, when you hold and receive Jesus’ word that says—this body and blood is given for you to take away your sins, the curse on you because of them, and the judgment against you.


They were not discerning—judging correctly—what it was that they were receiving.  Nor were they judging themselves correctly.


And this showed itself not only in the way they treated the body and blood but also in the way that they treated other Christians.  They let other Christians go hungry and be humiliated at the Divine Service—even seemingly be excluded from the Lord’s Supper if they had no food of their own.


That was to deny the new testament.  The Corinthians were treating the Lord’s Supper like a merely human supper, with merely human food, and merely human guests, so that all the same divisions that appear in the world applied to the Lord’s Supper.


But that isn’t how it is.  Jesus does not invite only the honorable to His Supper.  He invites sinners who believe that He gives the forgiveness of sins together with His body and blood in the Lord’s Supper.  And the same priceless gift is given to everyone who comes.


You proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes

When we receive the Lord’s Supper we are not receiving a magical gift like a rabbit’s foot or some other charm.  We are receiving Jesus’ body and blood that bore our sins and diseases.  Everyone who eats and drinks receives this.


But when we receive it we also are proclaiming and preaching.  We aren’t preaching individually but as a congregation.


The words that Jesus gave with the Supper tell us what He gave the supper to be—forgiveness and healing for us, but also a testimony that He alone redeems us with nothing less than His blood.


By receiving the Lord’s body we join in this preaching.  We say—this truly is the body and blood of Jesus that takes away my sins.


But when we receive the body and blood and then go on to deny it in our actions…belonging to a church that says it isn’t Jesus’ body and blood.  Living in unrepentant unforgiveness toward brothers in Christ, or unrepentantly sinning against them…Or when we allow people to commune who deny parts of Christ’s testament.  The Lord is preaching one thing—His death for us to heal us.  But we are preaching something else.  Our own niceness maybe.  Or that Jesus is okay with whatever you want to do.


Then we profane what is holy.  We risk being judged, getting sick, dying.  Really.


But we risk far more.  The judgment the Corinthians received was to return them so that they wouldn’t be condemned with the world.  But a person who does not remember the new testament risks everlasting death.


Let a man prove himself and so eat and drink


So Paul says: let a man examine himself and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.


What does that mean?  Basic three things.  Sorrow for sins, desire for forgiveness.  Faith that this is the body and blood of Christ and that it gives the forgiveness of sins, that it was given and shed for me.


It means to be honest: prove yourself.  Test yourself.


But that is hard—isn’t it?  Maybe you’re like me and you convince yourself that you’re right when you’re wrong.



Thus the gift of absolution.


We confess our sins privately to one another when we do wrong to each other and we forgive.


We confess our sins to the Lord.


He absolves us—He puts our sins away and no longer holds them against us.


And His presence is one of blessing.  We don’t say, like David, “How can I have the ark of the Lord’s covenant near me?”  But we instead come to Christ with confidence that He has invited such poor sinners as us to receive this testament which has turned away God’s wrath forever and which heals us.


The peace of God that passes understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.


Glory be to God alone.


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