April 13, 2017 – Maundy Thursday
by Pastor Pete Scheele
Grace and peace to you as you stand at the cross in Faith, from God, our Father, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Almost every child in this modern age of car seats goes through this at one time or another. He or she gets into a car late in the evening after a long day and is placed safely into his or her car seat. Not ten minutes into the ride home they are sound asleep because they are so very tired that not a thing would wake them up. He or she doesn’t realize how long it takes to get home. They simply and soundly sleep. Finally, the car pulls into the driveway. Mom or Dad gets out, reaches into the back seat, unbuckles the child, carries them safely up to their bedroom and gently lays them in their bed without waking them.
It isn’t until the next morning that they wake up. The last thing they remember is getting into the car. Now he or she is safely in their own bed, in their own bedroom, in their own home. When he or she got into the car the previous night they did so in complete faith that they would get safely home. They were so trusting in their parents that they could sleep through an entire car ride. Though they never knew how it all happened, their faith and trust in their parents meant that they never had a doubt about arriving safely home. He or she gets out of bed the following day standing in the faith that their parents would take care of them, protect them and give them whatever they needed to live each day.
Today we commemorate the first Maundy Thursday when Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it and gave it to His disciples. We remember that Jesus gave them the new covenant in His blood to drink for the assurance of all that He will give to them. More than that, we stand in faith today, as the Lord Jesus gives us His very own body and blood to eat and to drink so that we are forgiven of our sins and strengthened in that very same faith that was given to the disciples of Jesus. In Martin Luther’s Sermon for Maundy Thursday of 1534, he said this to his congregation: “The bread Jesus offers to His disciples is His Body, and the cup or wine is His Blood, of the New Covenant in His Blood. In childlike faith we should partake, without doubting, but believe it to be so.”
Now isn’t that easier said than done? So often we have the doubting faith of an adult rather than the trusting faith of a child. We look at the wafer that we place into our mouth, we taste the wine that we drink, and we wonder how are these things filled to the fullness with the body and blood of Jesus. We experience awful things in our lives and we find it difficult to trust in a Savior we cannot see. Our sins get in the way of our faith and we trust more in earthly things than we do than in the eternal God who made all things.
In the same sermon Martin Luther said this: “Therefore, we should leave God’s Word and work undisputed and ask only who has spoken the Word and who has done the work, whether it is God or man who has spoken it, whether it is God’s or man’s work. If it is God’s Word and work, close your eyes, do not dispute and inquire as to how it comes about, but believe that God is all-powerful and truthful in His Words and works.”
Luther is telling us to trust like a child that when God says something it is true and that He follows through just as He says. When He makes a promise it is always fulfilled. When He creates faith He provides the means to strengthen that faith. That’s why God says through the prophet Jeremiah: “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” It is not our own shaky truths that we trust in. Our God has placed His Word into our hearts and created in us the faith to completely trust in the Word that comes from His own mouth.
So when Jesus says, “Take and eat; this is my body,” and “Take and drink; this is my blood given and shed for you,” it is the firm and faithful Word of God that puts Jesus’ body and blood into the bread and wine that we partake of. It is the firm and faithful Word of God that uses that same body and blood to strengthen our faith so that we trust His Words when He says, “Your sins are forgiven.”
With our sins forgiven we stand strongly in the faith and proclaim to the world the death of Jesus every time we eat and drink His body and blood that was sacrificed for us on the cross. Faith in the heart never fails to come out of the mouth with thanksgiving and praise for it is shown by our actions in love for God. After all, faith in the heart is really Jesus in our heart. He’s there to help us, to heal us, to cause us to stand at the cross in the faith given to us by the one who died on the cross for us.
It doesn’t matter how old or how young we are when we are invited to come to our mother’s and Father’s table to eat a meal with them, we don’t doubt that all that they will serve to us will be healthy and helpful for us. We have faith that all the delicious food that our mother and father are giving to us will in some way be a benefit to our life. Jesus is inviting us to come and eat with Him at His Father’s table that He has prepared for us by His life, death and resurrection. The food that He is serving is simply bread and wine and yet it is the very body and blood of Jesus that was crucified and shed for all our sins, so that we can now live in the love of God for all eternity. We can’t explain how the bread and the wine are the body and blood of Jesus, but we have faith that it is and we see how it strengthens our faith and love for God even though we don’t understand how this miracle is happening. We are growing children of God and we need the nourishment of God’s body and blood to enable us to mature in the ways that God wants us to grow, so take and eat.
Today, as you come to His table, come as a child, a child of God, trusting that what Jesus gives in this meal is precisely what He says it is: the new covenant in His blood poured out for you on the cross. Come as a child of God trusting that this very same blood washes you clean of all your sin and sinfulness. Come as a child of God trusting that the Lord’s Supper will strengthens your faith to be even more childlike. Come as a child of God trusting in a life-giving meal that you don’t completely understand but believe in. Come as a child of God with certain faith, never doubting that your Savior will carry you safely to your heavenly home. So, whether you are asleep or awake, stand at the cross in the faith that Jesus will takes care of you, protects you and gives you whatever you need to live as a child of God, a Christian, every day. Then go out and share the Good News that you believe in with others so that they too may have that child like faith and come to the table with you to be strengthened in their faith also. Amen.