MAUNDAY THURSDAY – APRIL 2, 2015
TEXT: 1 COR. 11:23-32; JOHN 13:1-15; 34-35; EX. 12:1-14
DO THIS IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME
THAT IS - IN FAITH THAT I AM DOING WHAT I SAID
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 


“This is my body which is for you.  Do this in remembrance of me”.  Jesus did not mean “don’t forget Me altogether when you do what I command.”  Do this in remembrance of me.  Nor did He merely mean “contemplate what I once did for you in the past” – “retain the information in your mind of how I once shed my blood for you.” 


The modern word “remember” has that primary meaning of mental effort to recall someone in the past who is absent at the moment.  Understanding Jesus’ words in this way, however, would make Holy Communion a memorial service that was our work.  It would then be viewed as a double work of man – first, doing something for God and secondly, remembering the right person while doing it.  Millions view the Lord’s Supper in this way – a meaningful symbolic action done to obey a command of God – while recalling Jesus’ past work.   


But, Dear Christians, the Lord’s Supper is not something that we do!  It is the Lord’s Supper for His Church, not the supper of Christians performed for the Lord.   Remembrance does not consist of meditating on Jesus’ suffering with which some might think to serve God as with a good work (Luther’s recurring thought). 

MAUNDAY THURSDAY – APRIL 2, 2015
TEXT: 1 COR. 11:23-32; JOHN 13:1-15; 34-35; EX. 12:1-14
DO THIS IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME
THAT IS - IN FAITH THAT I AM DOING WHAT I SAID
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 


“This is my body which is for you.  Do this in remembrance of me”.  Jesus did not mean “don’t forget Me altogether when you do what I command.”  Do this in remembrance of me.  Nor did He merely mean “contemplate what I once did for you in the past” – “retain the information in your mind of how I once shed my blood for you.” 


The modern word “remember” has that primary meaning of mental effort to recall someone in the past who is absent at the moment.  Understanding Jesus’ words in this way, however, would make Holy Communion a memorial service that was our work.  It would then be viewed as a double work of man – first, doing something for God and secondly, remembering the right person while doing it.  Millions view the Lord’s Supper in this way – a meaningful symbolic action done to obey a command of God – while recalling Jesus’ past work.   


But, Dear Christians, the Lord’s Supper is not something that we do!  It is the Lord’s Supper for His Church, not the supper of Christians performed for the Lord.   Remembrance does not consist of meditating on Jesus’ suffering with which some might think to serve God as with a good work (Luther’s recurring thought).


Do this in remembrance of me.  Jesus did not mean put on a play recalling what happened in the Upper Room.  Passion plays are major events and can be entertaining and emotional and educational.  At this time of year Christian television broadcasts offer dramatic reenactments of the Last Supper.  But none of that is what Jesus meant when He said Do this in remembrance of me.


In truth, He meant something well-captured by the writer of Hebrews – since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus…through his flesh…and since we have a great priest over the house of God, “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith…” Dear Christians, there is great comfort and joy in understanding the fullness of what Jesus meant when He said, Do this in remembrance of me.  The heart of what He meant is that you are to receive in faith His body given and His blood shed for you that Jesus serves you at His Table.  At His Altar you enter the holiest place, that is, the place where the risen and ascended Christ is present on earth for you, to serve you with forgiveness, life and salvation.   

 

Do this in remembrance of me – that is, do this believing that what you receive into your mouth is My holy body to eat and My holy blood to drink.  Do this in remembrance of me – that is do this believing that I am here bodily, though not visibly, to forgive your sins just as I have promised.  Do this in remembrance of Me – that is, receive in faith this miracle of love I now give you.

 

The Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you.”  Jesus used unleavened bread stipulated for use for Passover.  Of the bread he said, This is my body.  There is no word present that could possibly be translated as symbolizes or represents.  This is my body, which is for you.  The giving of His body with the bread is just as real as the giving of His body into death on the cross.  Do this in remembrance of me, that is do this believing that I am present to give you all that I promise here.


In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.  Do this as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”  Jesus used real wine.  The rubrics (operational directions) at Passover called for four cups of wine.  It appears to be the third cup of wine – the cup of blessing over which Jesus said, this cup…is the new covenant in my blood.  The one who said at creation, “let there be light” and there was light, now says “this cup…is the new covenant in my blood.”   The giving of His blood with the wine is just as real as the shedding of His blood on the cross.  Do this in remembrance of me, that is do this believing that I am present to give you all that I promise here.


This is His last will and testament – given in holy love for His Church only hours before his sacrificial death.  Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of the world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.  His is love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (1 Cor. 13:4-7).  The magnitude of His love is beyond calculation.  The Holy One of God humbled Himself in sacrificial, cleansing love!  The removal of His outer garments to wash dirty feet foreshadowed the coming day’s removal of all His garments to wash dirty hearts with His blood.  The context of the very meal in which He washes their feet is His gift of the Last Supper – the sum and substance of the Gospel.  “If I do not wash you, you have no share in me.”  This is true because the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7)


Dear Christians, His serving, cleansing love did not end with the disciples that evening.  Every time He serves you His Supper – He places His intensive, unwavering love in your midst.  He who first washed you in Holy Baptism has not ceased His humble, loving service that cleanses you from all your sin. 


It is His body and His blood that your mouth receives in His gift tonight.  This is true whether it is believed or not.  The very same body of Jesus given on the cross, buried and raised the third day and the very same blood that poured from His pierced side on Good Friday is received by both the worthy and unworthy.  Our faith does not make it happen.  God’s Word makes it happen.  But it is our faith that receives the forgiveness of sins that is given with this heavenly food.  And that, beloved, is what Jesus is holding before us when He says, Do this in remembrance of me.  He is inviting us to receive His presence and His gifts in faith.


Jesus and His disciples ate the Passover in the upper room.  At this Passover similar celebrations would have been held all over Jerusalem.  Normally only one division of priests was on duty but at Passover all 24 divisions were in attendance.  Generally there was a 3-fold trumpet blast by the Levites.  Some priests then sang the Hallel (Psalm 114-118) and others slaughtered the lambs without blemish, males a year old…from the sheep or from the goats.  The blood from the first Passover had been put on the two doorposts and lintels of the houses.  The blood from the annual Passover feast was poured out in the temple, bucket after bucket after bucket.


But on this day a new thing is taking place.  On this day He who led Israel out of Egypt, He who instituted the first Passover, took over the Passover.  No longer would the blood of thousands of Passover lambs point to God’s rescue and release because God’s rescue and release had come in the flesh.  Now the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world was about to accomplish a once-for-all sacrifice for the sins of the world.  Soon He would go out with His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane – also singing the Hallel.  Soon Judas would betray Him with a kiss.  Soon He would be flogged and driven through with spikes and lifted up to die.  The blood that He shed on Calvary was not to be smeared on doorposts.  Rather, concerning His blood given to you with wine in Holy Communion He now commands, “Drink of it all of you for the forgiveness of sins”.  

 

That’s why Jesus comes into your midst this evening and each week in the Divine Service.  He prepares a miracle in earthly time and space.  As He comes He still says to us sinners, “do this in remembrance of me.”   That is, do this believing that I am here in the flesh to feed you and to forgive you exactly as I have promised.  Do this in remembrance of me, that is, do this believing that my sacrificial death on the cross finished your redemption and that what you receive into your mouth is my holy body to eat and my holy blood to drink.  Do this in remembrance of me, that is, do this knowing that I am here as your Bridegroom to unite myself with you in holy love preparing you for the eternal wedding feast in the new heavens and the new earth.  And grace upon grace, as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you (all together) proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.


When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you?  He also stated - A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.


How can you ever love with perfection like Christ loved?  How can you commune in a worthy manner with your record of loving?  Please note closely what the Holy Spirit caused St. Paul to write about worthy communing.  Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.  Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread, and drink of the cup.  For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 

 

Recognizing ones’ imperfect love for one’s spouse, one’s parents, ones’ fellow Christians in the body of Christ, one’s pastor, one’s enemies does not make one commune in an unworthy manner.  Quite the opposite in fact!  To receive this meal in full spiritual swagger convinced your love measures up would be the real problem.  The unworthy manner that St Paul speaks of has to do with not being aware of the body of Christ in the bread that is eaten.  The unworthy manner that St Paul speaks of therefore also has to do with a wrong understanding of This do in remembrance of me.  That is – communing in an unworthy manner is doing so while not believing that Jesus is truly here to do give into your mouth His body and His blood for your forgiveness.  Surely one of the sins that He cleanses you of at His Supper is the lack of love you confess to be true in your heart and in your life.   

 

Jesus did not give the disciples this Holy Meal because they were pure enough to be worthy.  He gave this meal to forgive and strengthen those who were sinfully weak.  If I do not wash you, you have no share in me.  That’s why what you have learned by heart from the sixth chief part of the catechism is so wondrously true – that person is truly worthy and well prepared who has faith in these words: “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”  This is a feast of festive joy for you!


If you feel your weakness and desire help, come joyfully to the sacrament and let yourself be refreshed and strengthened.  Self-examination is important – but equally important is the examination of Christ.  Of ourselves we are nothing, but test and weigh also the forgiving, healing presence of the risen Christ.  In a sense that is what He bids you do when He says - This do in remembrance of me.  With intensive love – love to the end – love to the fullest extent - the heavenly Bridegroom now comes to banquet you and unite Himself with you.  His Bride may therefore rejoice!


In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a