Maundy Thursday + 1 Corinthians 11:23-32 + April 13, 2017

Order of the Confessional Service - Pg. 46
Order of Holy Communion - pg. 15
Hymn # 314 Lord Jesus Christ We HumblyPray
Hymn # 163 The Death of Jesus Christ Our Lord
* After the Post-Communion Collect the Altar is stripped, dressed in black paraments, and everyone departs to return Friday evening to hear the Passion of of their Lord. 

Introit
GOD FOR- - || bid | that | I | should - | boast *
Except in the cross of our | Lord - | Je- - | sus | Christ.
In Him is salvation, life, and resurrec- | tion | from | the - | dead. *
By Him we are redeemed and set | at - | lib- - | er- | ty. (Galatians 6:14; Liturgical text)
God be merciful to | us | and | bless - | us, *
And cause His face to | shine - | up- - | on | us.
That Your way may | be | known | on - | earth, *
Your salvation a- | mong - | all - | na- | tions.
Let the peoples | praise | You, | O - | God; *
Let all the | peo- - | ples - | praise | You.
God, our own | God, | shall | bless - | us. *
God shall bless us, and all the ends of the | earth - | shall - | fear | Him. (Psalm 67:1, 2, 5–7)
God forbid | that | I | should - | boast *
Except in the cross of our | Lord - | Je- - | sus | Christ.
In Him is salvation, life, and resurrec- | tion | from | the - | dead. *
By Him we are redeemed and set | at - | lib- - | er- | ty. (Galatians 6:14; Liturgical text) 
 
Readings
Exodus 12:1-14
1 Corinthians 11:23-32
John 13:1-15 

Collect for Maundy Thursday
O Lord God, Who hast left unto us in a wonderful Sacrament a memorial of Thy Passion, grant, we beseech Thee, that we may so use this Sacrament of Thy Body and Blood that the fruits of Thy redemption may continually be manifest in us; Thou, Who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.  

Sermon
Grace and peace be unto you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

1)         When we think of Christ’s passion, we often think primarily of His physical sufferings; the scourging, the crown of thorns being pressed into His head, the nails tearing through flesh as they fix Him to the cross. These are the bitter physical sufferings of Christ. But they are not the only sufferings of our Lord. The Evangelists also show us the agony Christ experienced in His human soul. We see this agony as Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane. He removes Himself from His disciples about a stone’s throw and prays, Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). Being fully God, Jesus knows what lies before Him. Being fully man, His flesh is frightened at the prospect of such intense suffering and death. Agony possessed Christ’s human soul to the point that “His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44). Who of us, after all, wouldn’t shrink back from the tiniest bit of physical suffering? Christ sees the road that spreads open before Him and asks, in faith, if this cup can be taken from Him, yet only if it is His Father’s will. In John 5:30 He said, “I do not seek my own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.” His resolve to do the will of God the Father is not diminished by the dread of death or the soon-to-be suffering. This is the reason He has come to earth, to “humble Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8). He will follow the Father’s will because the Father’s will is good and gracious, and through it lead Him into suffering, it will also lead Him through suffering as well. The Father will not take the cup from His Son but make Him drink the entire cup, down to the dregs. 

2)         The cup which God the Father gives to our Lord Jesus is not a physical cup. It is a metaphor for His sufferings. It’s more than that though. It is the cup of God’s wrath against sinners. The Psalmist sings in Psalm 75:8, “For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup, and the wine is red; It is fully mixed, and He pours it out; surely its dregs shall all the wicked of the earth drain and drink down.” In times past, the Lord put the cup of His wrath into the hands of sinful nations so that they might drink it and experience the full angry and fury of God against their sins. All the pagan nations which harassed Israel and Judah drank from the cup at one point or another. Not even the sons of God were exempt from drinking the cup of wrath, if they persisted in their sins. Job laments that “God lays up one's iniquity for his children'; Let Him recompense him, that he may know it. Let his eyes see his destruction, and let him drink of the wrath of the Almighty” (Job 21:19-20). Jeremiah writes in Lamentations 4:21, “Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, You who dwell in the land of Uz!  The cup shall also pass over to you and you shall become drunk and make yourself naked.” The cup is given to Judah and Jerusalem so that they drink and become “a desolation, an astonishment, a hissing, and a curse” (Jeremiah 25:18). The cup of wrath, always to be drunk to the dregs so that none of it remains, brings the fullness of God’s wrath, along with shame, and ultimately, destruction. The Lord says in Obadiah 16, “Yes, they shall drink, and swallow, and they shall be as though they had never been.” The end of this draught is drunkenness, destruction and finally death.  

3)         This is the cup that God the Father gives to God the Son in His flesh. Christ drinks the full measure of God’s wrath against sinners in His betrayal, His trial, His mocking, His scourging, His suffering and death on the cross. Christ suffers every bit of God’s wrath against sinners. As He drinks the dregs of the cup of God’s wrath against sinners, He cries out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1). It is part of the mystery of the incarnation that God the Father completely abandons God the Son upon the cross, but He must, for upon the cross Christ is THE sinner, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21). The Blessed One “becomes a curse” (Galatians 3:13) upon the wood of the tree. Every drop of wrath that is prefigured in the pages of the Old Testament is poured into the mouth of Jesus. Every gulp of suffering that sinners deserve for their ambitions, their lusts, their greed, their jealousies, their anger, their covetousness, their self-gratification, their idolatry, their hatred of God and their despising of His Word is put into the mouth of Jesus so that He imbibes all of its bitterness. 

4)         This is not filicide. This is not child sacrifice. This is the justice of God at work. The cup which Christ drinks to the dregs belongs to Adam and Eve, for they ate that of which God said, “In the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17). The cup that the Father gives His Son belongs to you. It belongs to me. The Lord says to Ezekiel, “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4). But it is not the will of the Father that any should perish. So He provides Christ, the Only-Begotten Son of God, to assume our flesh so that He may bear our sins, and not only our sins, but the sins of the whole world. Christ becomes sin for us so that all who believe in Him “might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). The sinless one, who is the radiance and exact image of God the Father becomes a curse “for us” (Galatians 3:13) so that all who trust in His mercy and believe His Gospel have a God who is reconciled to them. There is no more wrath. Christ drank it all. “Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). Anyone who is not in Christ by faith, St. John says, “the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36) for sinners are only justified by faith in Christ so that there is no justification of the sinner apart from faith or before faith. But for those who believe this gospel by the power of the Holy Ghost, all who are in Christ by faith, for them St. Paul says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). All who take refuge Christ by faith, trusting that His death atones for their sins, there is no longer any wrath of God against them because they trust in the One who drank their cup to the bitter dregs. 

5)         Christ has drunk the cup of God’s wrath for you so that you do not have to experience God’s wrath against your sins. But your Lord’s graciousness goes beyond just His taking the cup you deserve from your hand. He takes that cup from you and gives you another. “The Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:23-25). In this Sacrament, Christ gives bread which is simultaneously His body, the same body which was scourged, beaten, and crucified for your sins. It is so because He says so, nor does He use figurative language since this is His last will and testament before His death. In this Sacrament Christ gives wine which is simultaneously His true blood, the same blood that dripped from his thorn-pierced brow, the same blood that oozed from his nail-punctured hands, the same blood that flowed from His riven side. It is so because the Word of God in human flesh says, “This is my blood” and it is impossible for God to lie. And although human reason and wisdom find this foolish, to eat Christ’s body and to drink Christ’s blood from the cup, that is precisely what He has given us in place of the cup God wrath we deserve. 

6)         Instead of wrath against sin and righteous anger damning the sinner, He gives you a cup full of His grace and His mercy, full of His own blood which He shed for you. The body which you eat and the blood which you drink gives you all the benefits He earned for you upon the cross, for He says, “This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). You not only receive Christ’s true physical body and blood by faith, but that blood bestows the forgiveness of sins to you. In this eating and drinking you participate in the very life of Jesus, life which will never die again. In the Mosaic Law, blood was never to eaten in meat, nor was it to be drunk for a special reason. The Lord said in Leviticus 17:11 that “the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” The Israelites were not to drink the blood of their sacrifices so that when the Messiah came, He might give believers His very blood that atones for their sins and through that blood, His life, for “the life of the flesh is in the blood.” This is why Dr. Luther wrote in the Small Catechism that “in the Sacrament forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us through these words. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation” (SC XI.2). 

7)         This Sacrament Christ institutes on this blessed evening so that you personally might have the benefits of His atoning sufferings and death. Because He offers His true body and blood, we are to examine ourselves, confess our sins, and trust that in this Sacrament Christ truly gives us His body and blood for our salvation. As we should not take lightly the cup of wrath which Christ drunk on our behalf, so we must not take the cup of salvation lightly either, imagining that it is a symbol or representation, but trusting the Word of Christ above our human reason and understanding. Christ takes our very real punishment in His body and spills His blood for our sins. So now He offers meal of real body and a chalice of true blood to graciously give us everything He earned for us at Calvary. He has taken the cup of wrath from you and drank it to the dregs so that there is no more condemnation for you. He gives you the cup of salvation in place of the cup of God’s wrath so that as often as you eat of it and drink of it, remembering Christ’s passion AND the blessings He gives to you in His body and blood, you receive forgiveness of all of your sins, the life of Christ, and eternal salvation. Amen. 
May the peace of God which surpasses all human understanding guard your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

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