Maundy Thursday, 2017
Exodus 24:3-11 3 Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the rules.[a] And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.” 4 And Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. He rose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 And he sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Lord. 6 And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar. 7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” 8 And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.” 9 Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, 10 and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. 11 And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.
Dear Christian Friends
Our sermon series – Sacred Head Now Wounded
· Ash Wednesday – 1) Lent is about spending time staring in amazement at a sacred head now wounded instead of just passing by unimpressed, 2)about pastors and congregations gathering in sacred assembly admitting that we are wounded and crying out for mercy, 3)Lent is about getting turned around by God and going in the opposite direction instead of just going through the motions.
· (Betrayal)Judas the disciple, a trusted friend, betraying Jesus with a passionate kiss
· (Apathy) Peter, John, and James, three best friends, laying down and falling asleep instead of kneeling and staying awake, watching, and praying
· (Denial) Peter cursing and swearing that he’s never even met Jesus
· (Wound of mockery) Soldiers stripping Jesus naked, putting on a scarlet robe, twisting a crown of thorns into Jesus head, kneeling before, ridiculing, striking, stripping naked one more time, crucifying
· (Wound of abandonment ) – worst injury of all, His own Father leaving Him to suffer alone)
Tonight, we find our wounded and about to be crucified Savior instituting a meal that will be for His wounded and weary warriors for generations to come. It will be a meal Jesus will be hosting again and again, at this meal He will be holding close those He loves, at this meal He will be forgiving those who have fallen short, at this meal He will be strengthening the faith of those who are feeling ever so weak, at this meal He will be providing refuge to those who being tossed to and fro by the storms of life.
On Palm Sunday, I gave you this image of Debi and me getting tossed to and fro on a snorkeling excursion in the choppy Atlantic Ocean waters near the Bahamas. That snapshot showed on the one hand Debi breathing well, knowing what she was doing, and having the time of her life. On the other hand, it showed me gasping for breath, swimming against the current, thinking I might be dying, just wanting to get back to the boat. On Sunday, I invited you to see every local Christian congregation as a place of refuge, a place where Jesus Christ would be showing up as promised, a place where He would be handing out gifts of grace in the waters of Baptism, handing out gifts of mercy in the bread and wine of the Supper, handing out gifts of truth which will set you free in the preaching of His Word.
This evening, I invite you to zero in on your Lord’s Supper as a meal for the wounded, a meal which is pure and unadulterated Gospel. This meal is entirely Good News and it is for you. This meal is for you in all the circumstances of life, be they smooth or rough. Here is where you are invited to bring all of your brokenness, all of your bad attitudes, and all of your bonehead mistakes. Here is where your souls will be loved, your sins will be forgiven, your faith in Christ will be increased, your marching orders will be clear. Here is a meal for wounded sinners provided by your Savior who was wounded all the way to the cross, even to the point of death, by His wounds you are healed, by His death you have been saved, buried, He carried your sins far away, rising He justified you freely forever, one day He’s coming, and a glorious day that’s going to be!
Not two, not just three, but four specific meals I bring to your attention this evening.
Meal #1 – Sarasota, Florida about 15 years ago/ story of a family member married in a wedding that was as beautiful as it could be/ the marriage turned ugly, it ended in divorce, on a hot September Thursday I flew to Florida, on Friday we loaded up his uhaul truck and drove away with shattered dreams and wounded hearts, on Saturday we started a new chapter of life, on Sunday morning there we were singing What a Friend We Have in Jesus with tears turning into father and son weeping out loud, and then our Lord’s Supper, eating a little piece of bread and receiving the very body of Christ broken for us, drinking just a little bit of wine and receiving the very blood of Christ poured out for us, Jesus starting to heal our wounded hearts, Jesus holding us close, Jesus washing our sins far away, Jesus telling us there was a way through, Jesus giving them an appetizer of a feast yet to come, Jesus giving clarity to our future, Jesus giving a peace only He can give.
Meal #2 goes all the way back to Egypt, where the people of God were still reeling from 450 years of vicious oppression, reeling in recent years from having to make bricks without the straw provided, reeling from plagues of water turning to blood, frogs swarming into their countryside, into their houses and bedrooms, frogs swarming into their ovens and kneading bowls, reeling from gnats covering men and beast alike, reeling from swarms of flies, reeling from Egyptian livestock dying by the thousands, reeling from boils breaking out on men, women, children, and beasts, reeling from the mother of all hail storms, reeling from Pharoh deciding to let Israel go and then changing his mind, reeling from a blizzard of grasshoppers, reeling from nationwide darkness, reeling finally from the killing of the firstborn in every household except where the blood of a lamb without blemish would be smeared.
Meal #2 is in the context of 600,000 men plus women and children being saved by the blood of a lamb without blemish being put on their doorpost. In this context, a meal was to be prepared on the tenth day of the first month, a month we call April. At this meal, the wounded people of God would kill their lambs at twilight, they would roast that flesh and eat it, they would prepared unleavened bread and bitter herbs and then eat it, the head of the household would tell the story of deliverance, a story to be handed down from one generation to the next. In that meal, the one true God of this universe would hold His people close, He would remember their sins no more, He gave them an appetizer of a feast yet to come, He would reassure them there was a way through, He would give clarity to their future, He would give a peace only He could give.
Meal #3 is in our text for tonight. It was a once in the history of the world kind of a meal, a meal where God would formally set aside the people of Israel to be His people. It was a meal preceded by Moses approaching the Lord one on one and receiving instructions, Moses writing everything down and passing them along to the 70 elders, the elders responding, “Everything the Lord has said we will do.” Keep in mind who these people were and what they would be famous for. They were the wounded people of God still reeling from 450 years of slavery, reeling from Egyptian armies chasing them down and trapping them between a rock and a hard place, they would be famous for not keeping their part of the deal, famous for breaking the covenant again and again, famous for chasing after other gods and grumbling about matters mostly small and once in awhile large.
Meal #3 was where young Israelite men offered up burnt offerings, they sacrificed young bulls as fellowship offerings, Moses took half of the blood and sprinkled it on the altar, he read the book of the covenant and then sprinkled the other half on the 70 elders, the Lord ratifying the covenant, then we see Moses and Aaron, their two sons and seventy elders going up and seeing the one true God. Under God’s feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire, it was clear as the sky itself, God did not scold His people, nor did He give them what they deserve, He gave them to eat and to drink, they enjoyed a meal in anticipation of a journey yet to come. In this meal, the one true God of this universe would hold His people close, He would remember their sins no more, He gives them an appetizer of a feast yet to come, He would reassure them there was a way through, He would give clarity to their future, He would give a peace only He could give.
Meal #4 was on the night Jesus was betrayed. Jesus had already been wounded in His spirit, and soon His body would be pummeled beyond imagination. Already His hometown folks had rejected Him, already His family had pronounced Him insane, already His religious leaders had plotted to do away with Him, already Jesus knew that his trusted friend Judas would betray Him, already He knew that His three best friends would fall asleep at a most crucial time, already He knew that Peter would deny, the soldiers would mock, the chief priests would get their way, Pilate would be a sniveling coward, the people who had shouted out hosanna son of David one day would cry out for his crucifixion five days later. At this meal, a wounded and about to be crucified, dead, and buried Savior would hold His disciples close, He would remember their sins no more, He gives them an appetizer of a feast yet to come, He would reassure them there was a way through, He would give clarity to their future, He would give a peace only He could give.
The kingdom of God is like a little flock called and gathered into a sanctuary this very night. Some of them come with a lot on their mind and some with nothing in particular. Many of them are coming as part of a life long habit, a few are coming for the first time. All of them are coming as people who have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. They have messed up by doing bad things and by failing to do good things. They have transgressed intentionally and unintentionally. They are coming just as they are, nothing fancy, they are who they are. And oh my goodness, are they in for a treat. At this meal, their wounded, crucified, dead, buried, risen, and coming again Savior holds them close, He remembers their sins no more, He strengthens their faith, He gives them an appetizer of a feast yet to come, He assures them there is a way through, He gives clarity to their future, He sends them forth with a peace that only He is able to give.
Worship Sermons & Letters
Pastor Paul Muther