And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.Accompanying Robert Rayburn sermon: The Lord's Supper
Accompanying John MacArthur sermon: The New Passover
I hadn't thought of this until I read Rayburn's comment but this is so true:
at every juncture in the history of redemption in which God’s covenant is renewed with his people there is almost immediately thereafter a betrayal of that covenant on the part of God’s people. In other words, before the ink is dry on God’s gracious promise to be our God and Savior the believer or believers upon whom God lavished this favor are betraying it, breaking their newly cemented bond with the Lord, and counting his grace a little thing.
God made his promise to Noah never again to destroy the world with a flood and we have immediately thereafter Noah’s drunkenness and the sin of filial disrespect committed by Noah’s son Ham. God made his covenant of grace with Abraham and his seed, brought him to Canaan and promised him the entire land as an inheritance for himself and his offspring, and then, at the first sign of difficulty, Abraham deserted the land he was promised for Egypt, lied about Sarah his wife, and threatened the very possibility of offspring as Sarah was taken into Pharaoh’s harem. When God renewed his covenant with Israel at Mount Sinai, having already delivered them from slavery in Egypt, before Moses could return from the summit of the mountain, Israel was cavorting like a pagan nation before a gold idol in the form of a calf. When David was granted an eternal covenant and the promise that there would always be one of his descendants on the throne of the kingdom of God, a promise he appreciated at first to be an utterly remarkable condescension on God’s part toward an unworthy man, what did he do but commit adultery and murder the woman’s husband!
And now, here in the Upper Room, Mark draws attention to the same dismal reality by employing once more his sandwich technique. His account of the first Lord’s Supper, which is a form of the renewal of God’s covenant with his people – as the language of sacrifice, of blood, and pouring out, of eating and drinking indicates – is sandwiched between two accounts of treachery and betrayal by his innermost circle of friends and followers, the very men with whom he renewed his covenant there in the Upper Room. The account of the Lord’s Supper begins with the Lord declaring that he would be betrayed by one of the twelve and it ends with his promise that all the rest of those men, the remaining eleven, would desert him in his hour of need.
If we inquire after the purpose of this pattern that God has woven into the history of salvation, as to why every renewal of his covenant with his people is answered by some egregious act of ingratitude and unfaithfulness on his people’s part, the answer surely is not hard to discover. We are being reminded in this powerful way that we do not deserve to be in fellowship with God, we do not deserve to know him as our God and Savior. It is not the worthy for whom Christ gave his life and to whom God grants the privilege of peace and fellowship with him. It is, in fact, to the undeserving and the unworthy that these extraordinary blessings and privileges come. God gives us himself in defiance of our ill-desert.
What more powerful demonstration of that fact can be imagined that the first Lord’s Supper, the very night of our Lord’s arrest and just hours before his cruel death on the cross, was attended by a traitor and a collection of cowards. Men who would either turn the Lord Jesus in for money or would run from him to save their own skin.
The Lord’s Supper, the holiest and purest moment of the church’s life in the world, began and ended with the announcement of treachery to be committed against the Savior by his own disciples. Jesus did not go to the cross because these men deserved it; he went to the cross because they did not deserve his salvation and, therefore, he had to achieve it for them, in their place.
Mark’s way of presenting the institution of the Lord’s Supper, then, highlights the meaning of this sacred ritual. What is the Lord’s Supper but both the embodiment and the practice of our Christian faith. In this Supper Jesus himself, as our dead and risen Savior, is offered again to us and by taking and eating and drinking, we receive him once again. In the action of the Lord’s Supper we confess our faith in Jesus, we offer our thanksgiving for the gift of himself for our salvation, and we look forward to the end of our salvation when Jesus comes again. Is that not the gospel in a nutshell? And is there a more beautiful or fitting expression of it than in the Lord’s Supper? And is there a more beautiful demonstration and practice of the life of love, of humility, and of unity to which all Christian are called, than that we all together come to this same table and eat this same bread and drink this same wine?
What a beautiful picture!
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Mark 14:27-31