Sep 3, 2017

After the Lord’s Supper 9-3-17

Matthew 26:31-46
September 3, 2017

As we continue to travel through the gospel of Matthew in our sermons we have come to the passages that describe the death of our lord Jesus and the events of the hours that preceded it.  I have skipped over the passage of the Lord’s Supper itself as I preached on it out of order during the Easter Season.  Today we are looking at events that occurred immediately after the Lord’s Supper.  They ended their time in the upper room with a hymn and they departed to travel together to the Mount of Olives, outside the walls of and on the other side of a valley from the city of Jerusalem.
As they walked, Jesus informed them that they would desert him later that night, and proclaimed that their betrayal was prophesied by the prophet Zechariah.
Peter responded by saying that the other 11 might desert Jesus, but that he would always remain loyal.  Jesus declared that Peter would deny that he knew Jesus before the next morning’s dawn.  Peter protested that he would always be loyal, even if facing death and the other 10 apostles who were present all added their “Me Too’s”.
Then, arriving at the Mount of Olives and entering a private garden called Gethsemane, Jesus asked 8 of the 11 to sit and wait for him while he and three of them, Peter, James and John, went deeper into the garden to pray. 
He instructed the three to pray with and for him because he was suffering much grief about the prospects of his soon-coming death.
He went off a ways to pray, and when he returned he found them sleeping.  He noted to them that they seemed unable to stay awake and pray for just one hour, and he told them to pray that they would not come into a time of trial or testing.
Then he went back to pray, and upon his return, he found the 3 sleeping again, so he went back to pray, and then returning again, he told the Apostles to wake up, it was time for him to be betrayed into the hands of sinners.
And they would very soon desert him as he had predicted.
In a few minutes we will be participating in a reenactment of the meal that preceded these events.
In that meal, Jesus used bread and wine as symbols for his soon coming death.  His flesh would be torn and his blood shed.  As we participate in that reenactment, we will be sitting in the seats of the 12 apostles.  As we do so, we need to remember what they did shortly after that meal.  They said they would stand by him steadfastly, then they slept as he prayed in great distress, then they ran away from him as he knew they would. 
Those are our predecessors at this meal.
But Jesus had also predicted that he would be raised up from death, and that they would come back to him in Galilee.
As we eat this meal, we need to acknowledge our weaknesses and our sinfulness.  We have not and we will not always stand for Jesus.  But he will forgive us and call us back to him.
Now I want to back up and look at the behavior and attitude of the one who sat at the head of the table.  When he took that bread and that wine at that meal, he knew that he would be dying a horrible death before the next Sunset.
He knew that in that death, he would be alone, because the apostles would run away and stand far off.
And to say he had mixed feelings about his death would be a tremendous understatement.
He three times prayed that the Father would find another way to accomplish his purposes.  As he prayed that evening, he expressed reluctance to die on the cross.  But he expressed reluctance in the shadow of the prayer he had given as an instruction to his apostles. 
The Lord’s Prayer begins, Our Father, who art in Heaven, thy kingdom come, THY WILL BE DONE, on earth as it is in heaven.  At that moment, Jesus submitted his will to the Fathers, as he had instructed the Apostles to do in that prayer.
He also reminded the apostles that they needed to pray a part of the Lord’s Prayer for themselves.  When he found them sleeping he encourage them to stay awake and pray that they would not come into the time of trial, as in “Lead us not into temptation”
We are about to participate in a reenactment of that great meal.  As we do we need to remember what transpired afterwards.  One of them betrayed him, Three of them slept when they were asked to pray, and the other 8 probably slept also.  All 11 then deserted him.
One, Jesus, went out not eager to die on the cross, but resolved to die in that way if it be the will of the Father, which he knew it was.
In the light of all of this I have a question for you.  After the meal, in the reality of the death of Jesus, Will you abandon him, or will you stand with him?
We all know you will fall.  You will sleep instead of Pray.  You will allow the enemies of Christ to cower you.  But will you return to the victorious, risen Christ as they did?  And as time goes on, will you stand more and fall less?
Let us pray that it may be so.
Father, we know who we are and what we are.  We know that we have fallen and will fall.  We thank you for bringing us back to yourself and for forgiving us.  We pray that in the future that begins now, You will give us the strength to stand for your son more often and longer, and we ask that you always bring us back to you and your blessed victorious son.

Pastor David Horner
Faith Presbyterian Church
West Lafayette, IN 47906