April 13, 2017 — Maundy Thursday
Sermon Text — Matthew 26:17-30
Is it I? Is it for Me?
In the Name of X Jesus. AMEN!
Beloved in the Lord,
Jesus with His Twelve
It is evening and the day is far spent. The light grows dim and the darkness is quickly advancing. It is the time of our adversary. He prowls about seeking someone to devour. And he is not without his legions, for men loved the darkness because their deeds were evil. That someone he seeks is Jesus. Thus the Jews plot His death. The priests ready their minions. 30 pieces of silver line the pockets of the betrayer. It is evening and the day is far spent. The sun’s glory fades with the sands of time and like a lion hiding behind the bushes, the darkness growls under the cover of Jewish piety and Roman justice. The Light has come into the world and the darkness does not understand it so the darkness wants to snuff it.
Jesus knows this. He knows the nations rage and the people’s plot vain things. He knows Peter’s coming failure and that Judas has come into some coinage. He knows what’s waiting for Him. There is cup on the Father’s mantel from which He must drink. There is no other way for Him because that is the way that saves us. The Father loves us and does not desire darkness for us. Darkness means death and He is the God Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He is the God of the living, the light, the life!
So when evening had come Jesus sat down with the twelve. In the very midst of death Jesus is with His beloved. He is with His Church, His bride, His people. He is with us. He is with you. For He is the God of Love and Love does not disappoint! Love does not run away. Love does not avoid what is coming but moves toward the darkness to overcome the darkness and save His beloved. This night is not a night to fear or terror. Though the enemy encamps all around, though the serpent’s plan is about to unfold, though uncertainty wearies the hearts of the faithful, what does Jesus do? He gathers with His own and has a feast! He washes feet. He eats! He drinks! He gives! He fulfills! His cup runneth over and fills the hearts of all who are with Him.
Is it I?
“Now as they were eating He said, ‘Truly I say to you, one you will betray me.’ And they were exceedingly sorrowful and each of them began to say to Him, ‘is it I?’” Why sorrow over such words? We know He speaks of Judas because we know the end of the story. But what about the rest of the twelve? Why their lament? Why their inquiry? Notice beloved that none of them point fingers. None of them whisper about Judas or Peter, or James or John. None of them gossip about their neighbors. No, they ask, “Is it I?” Why ask the questions? Because they know the secrets of their own hearts. And their heart is no better than ours. We too can share their sorrow, ask their question. We not only could betray the Lord, we have done so? Hear the Word of the Lord from the prophet Malachi, “”A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’
7 By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ By saying that the LORD’s table may be despised. 8 When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the LORD of hosts. (Mal 1:6-8 ESV) What is betrayal but despising the Name of the One who loves you! What is despising the Name but neglecting His Word, withholding your tithe, covering over an impenitent heart with hypocritical piety, refusing to forgive your neighbor, ignoring the plight of your fellow man, explaining away your sin and denying your need for repentance. “Is it I Lord?” ask the twelve. The answer is yes. It is I. It is me. It is you. It is our fallen nature the denies, betrays, and despises the light. Men loved the darkness for their deeds were evil. God’s Word says this about Peter, Judas, James and John, the rest of the twelve, as well as Me and you. As He says of Judas, so He says of us in our sin, “It would have been good for that person if he had not be born.” As with Judas so also with us, we need to be born again.
The Meal for Traitors (Thou prepares a table before me in the presence of mine enemies)
Jesus loves Judas, and Peter, and James and John and the rest of the twelve. And Jesus loves you. Our life of sin is not good. Such a life is a life lived in the darkness of death. There is no justifying sin. There is no calling evil good. T here is no denying the truth. “If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” There is only the call to repentance. There is only the justification of the sinner. That’s what love does. Love keeps no record of sins. God is love. Jesus is God made flesh. He is against sin but for the sinner and worthy of worship as the Psalmist sings, “If you Lord should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness. Therefore you are feared.”
How does He do this? He offers Himself. Darkness is overcome by light. Betrayal, denial, and hatred is undone by Love. Sin is covered over by blood. New life is given in the life of Jesus. So Jesus took bread, blessed it and gave it His disciples saying, “Take eat. This is my body.” He took the cup, gave thanks and gave it to them, saying “Drink of it all of you. This is my blood of the new covenant which is shed for you for the remission of sins.” This is how Jesus gives Himself to you. The body crucified on the cross, the blood poured out for the life of the world, the very Christ Himself raised from the dead is offered to sinners, betrayers, deniers, and despisers.
I ask you beloved, what sort of love is this that our God would offer Himself into death for us. What bridegroom willingly dies on the eve of His nuptials? What bright morning star dims its light to overcome the darkness? What God suffers death for the unrighteous? What love surrenders itself to the whims of His enemies in order to redeem them from the perils of their looming death? Our God, the God of the bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The God of the living, the God of the resurrection, the God who delights in showing mercy to those who don’t deserve it, the God whose steadfast love endures forever. Yes, beloved, only Jesus, God incarnate, offers His own body and blood for the redemption of His people! Only Jesus, the eternal Son of the Father drinks the cup of God’s wrath for our sins, and gives the cup of blessing to sinners. Only Jesus does this for you.
For the Forgiveness of Sins (Offered even to Traitors)
And because Jesus does this for you He is worthy to be worshipped! What worship ought be given Him? The worship of faith, faith in His Words and His Works for you. For the words, “given and shed for you” require hearts to believe. Many followed Jesus hoping to receive that which He has not come to give. Some wanted wealth. Others desired power. Still more wanted Him to serve their bellies. Judas settled for silver. James and John wished to be on His right and on His left when He came into His kingdom. Peter wanted Jesus to avoid the cross. But most of all Peter wanted to avoid the cross Himself. What do you want? Why do you follow Jesus? Are you here for your self-esteem? Are you looking for warm fuzzies, affirming words, possibly a to do list to make yourself right with God?
Jesus has come to redeem sinners. Jesus has come to be your justification. He offers you forgiveness of sin right here beneath the bread the wine. He offers you Himself. Right here. Right now. For You. See how He loves His twelve. See how His hand is outstretched even to Judas. Truly it would be better to never have been born if we were to continue in our sin. But Jesus offers us new life, His life, the life that redeems our life and justifies us before our heavenly Father! For the life of the creature is in its blood. So Jesus offers us, offers you His blood for the forgiveness of your sins. For without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. Christ is crucified! But Christ is risen! What He offers you tonight is holy, righteous, pure, life giving and life sustaining.
Jesus with His Twelve
Beloved in the Lord, the evening is upon us. You can feel it in your bones. The weight and burden of sin is too heavy to bear. You will not survive if you try to bear it yourself. Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He is God’s answer to your sin. He is the remedy and the medicine of immortality. “For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1Co 15:53-57 ESV) Here, Jesus is with His twelve, His bride, His Church, you and me. Here is the feast of the victory of our God. Here the light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. Here death is undone by Him who is the light and the life. Here betrayal, denial, and hatred is covered in blood, His blood, the blood of the new covenant. Here is Jesus with you and for you. Come! Come beloved and feast! Take and Eat! Drink of it all of you! Let no sin go un-repented. Let not unbelief keep you in bondage! Believe the Word of the Lord! Draw near and taste the body of the Lord! He is good. AMEN!
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!