Jesus, Broken and Poured Out For You
“Jesus on the Way to the Cross”
Maundy Thursday, Holy Week 2018
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We meditate on the readings read, as well as Matthew 11, Jesus saying, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden light.”
Dear friends in Christ,
Just today, we laid a dear, dear saint to rest. Martha Kintzel. In the year that Martha was born, Hitler’s party was coming into power, when she was 5 Hitler was named chancellor, as a school-aged girl she remembers shaking the hand of Adolph Hitler, when she was 17 the war was just ending, in her late teens and early 20’s the Russians were swooping through the countryside raping and ravaging, when she was 27 she and her husband Ludwig were getting married, in the 1950’s he was a coal miner and the coal mines were in their hey day, they were blessed with three children, living in new housing in a new town, at age 33 the Berlin wall was getting built, at age 41 she and her family were moving to Minnesota.
Martha for the most part didn’t seem to want to talk about years of war and death and despair, but one author wrote about how Berlin was divided, people were living amidst the destruction, and everyone was hungry all the time, nine million German men killed, and women and children suffering atrocities worse than death.
So much that Martha wouldn't talk about or didn’t want to talk about. But perhaps it is her silence on the troubling chapters that makes what she did say so much more powerful. She didn't volunteer much about her past, but she did want people to know the love of Jesus gets us through all the tough days. She didn't spread around the story of her hard life, but she was very bold to say where she found her strength and her hope. She was very bold to say in times of tiredness, she knew where she could find rest.
Which makes me to thing of Christ’s words… “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden light.” He’s looking for the weary and the burdened. He’s looking for the exhausted. He’s looking for those who need rest.
Which makes me to think of how Christ is looking for us to be the right kind of tired. One of the favorite memories of my life are my summers at camp during my college days. I would get done with the college semester exhausted. Tests, papers, long nights, lots of caffeine, little sleep, bad food, reading, typing, and sitting. It was exhausting. But then, I would go to camp.
I remember that our days would start at 6:30am and we would be watching children until 10:30pm, when you would get an hour or so off from them if you weren’t on night patrol. Your days were full of canoeing and bow and arrow, full of silly games and Bible study, full of walking miles and miles and miles through the woods and making breakfast, lunch and dinner over the fire.
It was exhausting, but it was a different kind of exhausted. Not so much of late nights and caffeine but full days and tasks well done, what at least one wise mom would call “good tired.” Not so much of writing papers and taking tests, but the rigorous questions of campers dealing with real life.
We ponder the last days of Jesus. In his early ministry, he frequently went off alone to pray. He was ministered to by angels and took time to rest. But you see him in his last days, and you can’t help but thing about him as tired. Tired from betrayal. Burdened by the weight of the world’s sin. Drug down by the actions of the disciples. Absolutely exhausted, but exhausted by the weight of the whole world’s sin. Tired to the bone, yet pressing on. Pressed to the breaking point, yet still gentle and lowly of heart.
And I tell you that to tell you this: it seems in our American context, as we walk through life, we will all be exhausted and tired, but it seems, that it’s easy to be the wrong kind of tired. Tired from working too many hours, too tired to take time for our Savior. Tired from keeping up our image, too tired to cultivate real relationships. Tired from consuming our media, too tired to listen well to what our neighbor is saying. Tired of defending our honor, too tired to confess our sins.
Dear friends in Christ,
Tonight, I would invite you, come to this table with the good kind of tired. Be exhausted, exhausted because of how difficult and rewarding it is to love others in their lives, and how much struggle it takes to love them well. Come to this table frustrated, frustrated because of the honest struggle and care you have for all kinds of people in your life that you know are in God’s hand even when they don’t do what you told them to do. Come to this table tired and worn out and weak. Come to this table hungry and thirsty for righteousness.
Come to this table after living a life that makes you tired in the right way, because then you shall see what true rest is. Come to this table frustrated, because then you will find what great patience your God feeds into you mouth. Come to this table restless, because then you will find what a peace Christ gives, a peace that passes understanding.
Come the right kind of tired, because as often as you come, you receive the right kind of strength. It’s not a strength of muscle, or even a strength of mind. It’s not a strength of individualism, or a strength of solidarity. It’s the strength that a Savior, looking down the barrel of his betrayal, crucifixion and death. It’s a strength that emptied itself to the point of death, even death on a cross. It’s a strength that was exalted to the highest places, so that every knee will bow and tongue confess. It’s the strength that only our Savior can give.
It’s the strength that can come only in the miracle of our God’s heavenly banquet delivered into your mouth and into your heart. It’s a strength that brings an unearthly peace, the kind of peace that makes all the tension in the world slide away. It’s the kind of strength that has no words to it, because it doesn’t need any words.
There’s a woman that I remember well. I think of her often when I come to the Lord’s Table. She was going into life-threatening surgery, the kind of surgery that she had only a 50% chance of surviving. They were having to fuse her spine from the front. They would have to take all of her organs out, come in from the front and do what they had to do. So, she called and asked for communion and I came out to her and we celebrated the Lord’s Supper together, and after that, with tears in her eyes, she said to me, something that I’ll remember for a good long time, she said,
“Pastor, don’t get me wrong, your sermons are fine…. But there is something unspeakably good about the Lord’s Supper. It has a meaning that I don’t understand. Every time I take it, it means more.”
Come, let us join our Savior in something unspeakably good tonight. Come, let us see our Savior, at the hour of his betrayal, fulfill the Passover will new meaning. Come, let us eat and drink the forgiveness bought and paid for on the cross. Come, let your burdens down at the foot of the cross, for his yoke is easy, and his burden light. Amen and Amen.
Worship Sermons & Letters
Pastor Paul Muther