Why did this king die?

The Meaning of the Last Supper

A Sermon on Luke 22:7-38

Lionel Windsor, 28 March 2004

What sort of love of this?

q I want you to imagine, for the moment, something extraordinary.

I want you to imagine that you are a woman

Iím sure thatís hard for the men here

And that you are married to a perfect man

Iím sure thatís hard for the women here

This man

Loves you very much

Cares for your needs

Always leaves the toilet seat down

Buys you flowers at least once a week

(I know, itís pretty much impossible, but bear with me)

One day, something very strange and tragic happens

You and your perfect husband are strolling down the footpath

After a beautiful romantic meal

Arm in arm

The sun is shining, the birds are singing

Suddenly, your perfect husband jumps in the air

Pulls his arm away from yours

Shouts, ĎI love you!í

Jumps into the street, straight into the path of an oncoming motorcycle

Gets run over an dies

q When you have recovered from the shock and trauma, you have some pretty essential questions to ask

Why on earth did my perfect husband have to do something so terrible?

Before he died, he said, ĎI love you!í

But how can that be true?

If you love somebody, you donít go and die on them!

Jumping deliberately to your death isnít normally an act of love, is it?

Itís an act of stupidity

Or madness

Or utter selfishness

But how can death be loving?

q This is the question that weíre faced with as we look at Jesusí death.

Jesus is Godís perfectly good and loving king

The Lord and master of the universe, who demands our trust and obedience.

And yet, Jesus was a king on a suicide mission

Marching up to Jerusalem to die

q Why did King Jesus die?

You might say that he died out of love

Or maybe as an example of love, to inspire us to love others

But how on earth can somebodyís death be an example of love?

What sort of bizarre love proves itself by dying?

And if so, how is it an example to me?

The final meal

Well, fortunately Jesusí didnít just go and die without an explanation.

If he did,

Weíd have to call him a suicidal lunatic, wouldnít we

Instead, Jesus went to great lengths to explain exactly why he died

Because the night before his death, he had a meal with his close friends

And at that meal,

he told them why he, the king

had to die.

q Elaborate preparations 8-13

You can see the elaborate preparations that Jesus went to for this meal

We read in verses 8-13, he

Sent two of his disciples ahead of him

He gave them detailed instructions about the place where the meal was going to be held

And even before the disciples found the place, Jesus had been at work,

-       Making contacts in the hospitality industry

-       To get it all set up

So they found it exactly as he had told them.

Jesus obviously cared about this last meal

And thatís what people do when they have something important to announce or to celebrate

They make elaborate preparations, donít they?

A casual dinner with friends might take a couple of hours to organize

A 21st birthday might take months

A wedding can take even longer

Jesus obviously had something very important to say at this meal

Because he took extra good care to get it ready.

q Intimate explanation 14

When you think about it, having a meal is a very intimate thing do to with somebody

Very personal and close and warm

I love the beautiful smile on my little daughterís face when we sit down to have dinner together

-       She loves it

-       Adelaide and Mummy and Daddy are all sitting together

-       At the same level (sheís got a booster seat)

Talking and eating, up close and personal

You can see that same warmth in verse 14,

Jesus leans back to talk to his apostles

In fact, Jesus often used meals to show his friendship and warmth for people

Throughout Lukeís account you can read of Jesus having meals

-       With notorious people, crooks, sinners, even prostitutes

To prove how dear they were to him

But this last meal, with his disciples, is extra special and close.

q The passover Ė 7

This isnít just any meal, either

This is a particular feast, called the Passover (that word ĎPassoverí is mentioned four times in verses 7-13).

The Passover was a bit like Christmas for the Jewish people

A time of special celebration

Where everybody came together

But the Passover was a time when the Israelite people remembered Godís great rescue of them from Egypt

Do you know the story.

Godís people were slaves in Egypt

God promised he was going to punish the Egyptians and bring his people out of there

So one night, God sent a angel of death to kill the firstborn of every house in Egypt.

But God didnít want his own people to die,

-       So he gave them something very important to do

-       At sunset, all the Israelites had to kill a lamb, an animal

-       Not just for food,

-       They had to take the blood of the lamb theyíd just killed

-       And paint the blood on their doorposts

Sounds a bit gruesome, doesnít it?

-       But they had to do it.

-       Because when the angel of death came to their door later that night

-       Heíd see the blood painted on the doorpost

-       And heíd know that a death had already happened in that house

-       And heíd pass over the house and leave them alive

And so God punished the Egyptians but rescued his people

This meal that Jesus prepared so thoroughly was actually a Passover meal

The meal that remembered back to the time

-       when Godís anger was turned away

-       by the death of an animal.

So already, at this meal,

Both death and joy are hanging in the air.

q So Jesus uses the meal to explain his own death

He tells them why the king had to die.

One important thing Jesus says is,

The kingís death was utterly evil

There are evil, cruel things going on at this meal

Iíll show you what they are

q Deep personal betrayal (21)

There is personal evil

Just look down at verse 21 with me, will you?

Jesus says in verse 21,

Ďthe hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table.í

If youíd the beginning of this chapter, youíd know all about Judas

Judas was an apostle, an insider who knew all about how Jesus operated

And Judas traded his inside info for money

He told the men how to arrest Jesus

And in verse 21

Jesus says, I am sharing my table, my food, my love, my warmth, my friendship, my mateship with you, Judas

-       But youíre going to betray me

Betrayal: itís one of the most evil and painful things in this life isnít?

If you get hurt by an enemy, you expect it.

If you get hurt by a stranger, you get over it.

What if you get hurt hurt by a close friend?

-       Or A father? A mother?

-       A husband? A wife?

-       Do you ever get over it? I donít think so.

Jesus knows all about betrayal

-       A man he had shared his whole life with for years.

-       Handed him over to death.

The kingís death was utterly evil

And not just on a personal level

q War and cosmic turmoil (36)

In verse 36 Jesus talks about evil on a grand scale:

War and battle, swords and fighting

War is terrible, even if itís sometimes necessary

Jesus is saying that his death is as evil as the horrors of warfare

q And not just war, but spiritual war. Satan was right there behind Jesusí death.

In verse 3, Satan entered into Judas

In verses 31-34, Satan is right there,

Waiting to break the disciples, Peter especially

Satan asked Jesus, ĎIíve got Judas, I want Peter tooí

Satan wants to annihilate the kingdom that Jesus was building for himself

To destroy their souls by killing their king

q Betrayal, war, Satan!

The kingís death was utterly evil

And yet, that is not all that Jesus has to say.

Despite the horror and the deep misery of Jesusí death

The kingís death was at the centre of Godís plan

The kingís death was at the centre of Godís plan

q The servant, delivered to death (22, 37).

Please read verse 22 with me, will you?

ĎThe Son of Man will go as it has been decreed, but woe to that man who betrays him.í

Oh yes, Judas delivered King Jesus over to death

And Judas is entirely responsible for that evil act

But look at the start of the verse

The Son of Man (that means Jesus)

Will go as it has been decreed

Who decreed it? What does that mean?

Well Jesusí words here point us back to a particular passage in the Old Testament,

If you can, please turn with me to Isaiah 53:4

This is a prophecy, hundreds of years before Jesus

It is predicting that a man will come

And this man will would be a sacrifice, just like the passover lamb.

I want you to read with me,

And as youíre reading, ask, who is responsible for the death of this man?

-       4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.

-       5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,

-       he was crushed for our iniquities;

-       the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,

-       and by his wounds we are healed.

-       6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way;

-       and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

-       Skip down to verse 10Ö

-       10 Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer,

Jesus is this man

And God planned his death

The kingís death was at the centre of Godís plan

q Jesus was our Passover sacrifice!

Read verse 15

ĎI eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before my sufferingí

And then, what did he do with the Passover, the remembrance meal?

Verses 19-20

19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me."

20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

Jesus says, the Passover is all about me

They were used to eating in remembrance of the Passover lamb, killed to turn away Godís judgment.

Now Jesus says, Ďeat in remembrance of meí.

God has given me to you as a Passover lamb

King Jesus is the sacrifice that turns away Godís anger

God is angry with us

We deserve to die

Why should the angel of death spare us?

Weíve treated God with contempt,

-       weíve lived lives of betrayal against God

-       Sometimes blatantly

-       Sometimes just living without reference to God

Weíve got it coming.

Well,

Imagine you have a perfect husband

-       Who obviously loves you very much

-       Cares for your needs

-       Goes to extraordinary lengths to love you

-       Shares his most intimate meals with you

One day, something very strange and tragic happens

-       You and your perfect husband are strolling down the footpath

-       After a beautiful romantic meal

-       Arm in arm

Suddenly, your perfect husband jumps in the air

-       He tells you, urgently, Ďthereís a motorbike coming for you!í

-       ĎItís going to hit you if I donít stop it!í

-       ĎI love you!í

-       Jumps into the street, straight into the path of the oncoming motorcycle

-       Gets run over an dies

Thatís love

Thatís why the king died

To take away the everlasting death

-       that was coming to us as surely as a speeding motorbike

Because weíd rejected God

q Jesusí death wasnít

An accident of history

As if Jesus was a moral teacher who stood on too many political toes

Got caught up in the politics

Jesusí death wasnít an unfortunate plan ĎBí for God

Itís not as if Judas made his decision to hand Jesus over to death entirely off his own bat

-       And then God said to himself,

-       ĎOh dear.

-       How naughty of Judas.

-       But I respect his free decision.

-       Iíd better make the best out of this situation and turn it into a Passover sacrifice.í

Not at all!

Oh, Judas is responsible for what he did

-       The Kingís death was utterly evil

-       But the kingís death was at the centre of Godís plan

 Oh, I pray that you understand this.

If you know nothing else, know this

That Jesusí death was to pay the penalty that you deserve for rejecting God

So you can have total forgiveness.

And know that your forgiveness is not some afterthought of God

Something on the edge of Godís mind

that he made up as he went along

Your forgiveness was planned by God

Jesus planned it as he made the preparations for his final meal

Jesus planned it his whole life as he lived heading for his death

Even thousands of years before Jesus came, God was planning his death

-       He gave them the Passover

-       He spoke through Isaiah about the coming man

In fact, from all eternity

-       Your forgiveness was right at the core of Godís heart.

Isnít that mindblowing?

The kingís death creates Godís kingdom

And it doesnít end there,

Not by a long shot

What if your perfect husband, just before he jumps in front of that motorcycle, also tells you something else?

He says, ĎI love you, and Iíll come back and be with youí

q The new kingdom (16, 18, 28-30)

Evil didnít have the last word over Jesus

Throughout his last meal, Jesus kept on talking about his new kingdom

Verse 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God."

Verses 28-30 You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Jesus knows that his death will bring about his new kingdom

Satan didnít have the last word.

Jesus kept Peter safe, even through the dark and evil moments of the passion.

Jesus rose again, as the king of this kingdom

q In verse 20 itís called a new covenant

A new relationship with God

A relationship of love and everlasting security in the forgiveness that came through Jesusí death

q Following the servant king (24-27)

So what is it like to be in this kingís kingdom?

Well, it means to trust the king for forgiveness

And it means to live like the king

Sacrificially

As loving servants of one another

-       Thatís what verses 24-27 say.

I think itís quite sad that often Christians read this passage and all theyíre interested in is finding out about the Lordís Supper

You know, the communion

-       the thing we do with the bread and the wine at church as a reenactment of the last supper

But Jesus spends very little time here establishing a new meal

What Jesus is interested in here is establishing a loving, serving, sharing group of people in his kingdom

Jesus wants kingdom people who are so moved by Jesusí loving death.

-       That they leave behind the petty politics of the world

-       And just get on with living as friends and servants in the kingdom

And thatís really what the Lordís Supper is about anyway, isnít it?

-       Thatís what 1 Corinthians chapter 11 says.

Letís come back to Jesusí death, though.

Because thatís what Jesus wants us to understand.

q How do you feel when you think about Jesusí death?

Horror?

Revulsion?

Mild interest?

Guilt?

Nothing?

Iíll let you into a secret

You donít know God

-       until you can think about Jesusí death, and feel peace and joy

Not superficial bubbly peace and joy, thatís not what I mean

I mean that deep joy, that peace

-       The joy and peace you can have even when you hurt badly

-       The joy and peace that knows that Jesusí death was at the centre of Godís plan

-       That God planned the evil of Jesusí death to create his kingdom

-       His free

-       Everlasting

-       Secure kingdom

-       Full of rich, deep joyful relationship

-       And that youíre in it

-       Because heís your king.

-       So is Jesus your king?