I'll be putting up the My Easter Sermon later this afternoon.
And he took bread and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. And like wise the cup after they had eaten saying “this cup that is poured our for you is the New Testament in my blood.”
We call it Maundy Thursday because of Christ’s command to “do this” in remembrance of him. The Maundy comes from the Latin word mandatum from which we get the word mandate. He tells us to do this. It is the new testament in his blood, and we are to do it.
There is perhaps a question here as to who is being commanded, the church to make it available, or the individuals to receive it. It must be a little bit of both. The Lord’s Supper cannot be done where people are not there to consume it. There is definitely an order that the church is to be celebrating the sacraments.
It seems odd that there is a commandment, we normally don’t think of the gospel as a commandment. How do you mandate forgiveness and faith? It seems almost to make a law out of the Gospel and that would be absolutely verboten in Lutheran circles. Yet it is a law even as it is gospel. It is a law, he tells us to do it. And we as Christians should not take our Lord’s last will and testament to be that which is perhaps a nice suggestion but not really all that necessary. I scratch my head thinking about that.
Here he is giving us his very body, the body given for us, here He is giving us His blood, the New Testament, His Testament, His will, through which we receive our inheritance, the forgiveness of sins. This isn’t any old covenant as the ESV translates it. I want to choke at the suggestion even. That is a perversion and a bad one at that. Oh a testament is a covenant, but not every covenant is a testament. Not all legal documents are testaments and wills. This is a testament! Jesus is dying to give it to us. The words themselves my body given for you, this cup poured out for you is my blood, my blood poured out for you. The very words of this “covenant” demand that it be interpreted as Testament, because it is through his death on the cross that it takes effect. His death which he is proclaiming right now. His death which we proclaim as often as we do this at his command until he comes. This is a testament in which we inherit the benefits of His death, the forgiveness of sins, the propitiation of sins, his atonement.
And so Christ commands us to do it as surely as he commands us to preach his word, as surely as he commands us to proclaim his Gospel even to the ends of the earth. He commands us to do this even as he commands us to go and make disciples baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. He commands us to do it because without it no one hears, no one believes, no one receives. With this command he entrusts to us that which he has given for all his body and his blood, the forgiveness of sins.
So it is that it can’t be church that does not do this. It is strange but there are churches that take all the rest of the laws, the ten commandments make up laws of their own even but fail to do this, and therefore they are not church, they are not Christ’s church. The church cannot afford to be without the Lord’s Supper, because in the Lord’s Supper is given the forgiveness of sins, that which makes us Christian, the gospel, Christ’s death in which we find life, in which we find the forgiveness of sins, in which we find salvation.
It is this New Testament in His blood that gives the church life in which the church finds reason for being. So it is also that in this New Testament we Christians find forgiveness, life and salvation. It is a law even as it is a gift, for without it, what are we left with? Why should we Christians in seeing the forgiveness of sins being offered to us, seeing life being given in the body and blood of our Lord, given and shed for you, think that this is something we can do without, should do without? Why would we want to do without it? What kind of Christian is he who despises the forgiveness of sins, and does not want it?
But here in the death of Christ which we proclaim, here is our life, here Christ forgives our sins with the body and blood he sacrificed for us on the cross.
Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.