Sermon title:  THE LAST SUPPER

Matthew 26:20-30

Immanuel Baptist Church – Sunday, February 9, 2020

 

 

 

The four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John

all talk about the Last Supper—

our Lord Jesus’ final meal with his apostles,

before going to the cross. 

 

A lot went on at that intimate dinner.

 

It took place in a borrowed upstairs room

that was provided

through miraculous circumstances.

 

It seems that there were 13 people present:

Christ and his 12 apostles.

 

No crowds.     No hostile scribes or Pharisees.

 

Just Jesus,

and the 12 men who had been with him for 3-1/2 years.

 

While they were eating, John Chapter 13 tells us

that Jesus got up from the table

and washed their feet,

to teach them servant leadership. 

 

Then he settled their argument

as to which of them was the greatest.

 

And he settled it  

in a way that they didn’t expect.

 

He again reminded them

that he wanted them to be servants to one another. 

 

At John 13:17, we pick up where we left off,

right after our Lord taught the disciples those lessons.

 

Jesus went on to say,

 

17 Now that you know these things,

you will be blessed if you do them.

 

They understood that.

 

They knew they would be blessed

if they put into practice what Jesus taught them.

But then he said something

that they didn’t understand at the time.

 

He said,

 

18 “I am not referring to all of you;

 

I know those I have chosen.

 

But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture:

 

‘He who shared my bread

has turned against me.’

 

Jesus was quoting directly from Psalm 41, Verse 9,

a psalm written a thousand years earlier

by King David.

 

David was describing his own circumstances,

as even close friends conspired against him.

 

Christ quoted it because

unbeknownst to David when he wrote it,

the Holy Spirit inspired David’s words

as a prophecy about the future Messiah.

 

‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’

That fit Jesus’ circumstances exactly,

because he and his apostles

were all reclining at the table together,

sharing bread at that Passover meal.

 

And Jesus knew that one of them had turned against him.

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As was the custom in those days,

they didn’t sit on chairs around the table.

 

Instead, they reclined on couches,

lying on their sides around a central table.

 

And, following the Old Testament instructions for Passover,

they ate the flat, unleavened bread

that we today call Jewish matzoh.

 

You can buy kosher Passover matzoh today in the supermarket.

 

It comes out of the box in large flat pieces,

and is hard and thin, like a cracker.

 

The custom was to take a large pieceand break it,

so that it could be shared

among those at the table.

 

So, Jesus quoted that prophetic passage of Scripture

where King David said,

 

‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’

 

The disciples didn’t know

what he was talking about.

 

But he was about to tell them.

 

At John 13:19, he continued,

 

19 “I am telling you now before it happens,

so that when it does happen

you will believe

that I am who I am.

 

20 Very truly I tell you,

whoever accepts anyone I send

accepts me;

and whoever accepts me

accepts the one who sent me.”

 

The fulfillment of prophecythat was about to occur,

would be one more of the many Old Testament prophecies

that Jesus fulfilled,

and that help prove who Jesus is.

 

Those who listen, when we tell them about Jesus

accept Jesus

and so accept God the Father, as well.

 

So, Jesus said about this prophecy of his betrayal,

 

19 “I am telling you now before it happens,

so that when it does happen

you will believe

that I am who I am.

 

20 Very truly I tell you,

whoever accepts anyone I send

accepts me;

and whoever accepts me

accepts the one who sent me.”

 

How would King David’s psalm prove prophetic?

 

And how would it help people believe

that Jesus is who he is?

 

The apostles still didn’t understand where Jesus was going with this.

But he made it plain to them, right away.

 

They could see that he was upset

by what he was about to say.

 

Verse 21:

 

21 After he had said this,

Jesus was troubled in spirit

and testified,

 

“Very truly I tell you,

one of you is going to betray me.”

 

Our Lord didn’t say this calmly, like a serene Buddha,

without emotion.

 

No, he was visibly upset.

 

And what he said to the apostles was a bombshell.

 

Here they were, happily sharing a meal together,

and Jesus dropped that bombshell

in the hearing of everyone at the table.

 

One of those, right there at the table,

was about to betray Jesus to his enemies.

 

But who would be the one to do it?

 

Verse 22 says,

 

22 His disciples stared at one another,

at a loss to know

which of them he meant.

 

Mark 14:19 adds a little more detail.

 

It says,

 

19 They were saddened,

 

and one by one they said to him,

“Surely you don’t mean me?”

 

20 “It is one of the Twelve,” he replied,

 

“one who dips bread into the bowl with me.

 

21 The Son of Man will go

just as it is written about him.

 

But woe to that man

who betrays the Son of Man!

 

It would be better for him

if he had not been born.”

 

The prophecy about the Messiah’s betrayal

was sure to be fulfilled,

but woe to the person

whose sinful heart leads him

to commit that horrible act of betrayal.

 

It would be better for him

if he had not been born.”

 

But Jesus said it was “one of the Twelve,”

who were there at the table with him.

 

“one who dips bread into the bowl with me.

 

Before eating their pieces of unleavened bread

they would dip it into a shared bowl

of flavored sauce.

 

And the one who was going to betray Jesus

was close enough to him

that he was

 “one who dips bread into the bowl with me.

 

One by one, the apostles all said to him,

“Surely you don’t mean me?”

 

In this circle of 12 apostles around the table,

the Apostle John was reclining on a couch

right in front of Jesus,

with his back to Jesus’ chest.

 

That was the most favored position at a banquet.

 

A parable in Luke’s Gospel

describes the beggar Lazarus dying

being taken to heaven

to the ‘bosom of Abraham’—

the closest position to Abraham—

at the banquet in heaven.

 

John 1:18 describes the Son of God

as being in the bosom of the Father—

the closest possible relationship with the Father.

 

So, here at the Last Supper,

we find the Apostle John

reclining on a couch in that bosom position,

right in front of Jesus, where he could lean back

onto Jesus’ breast,

to speak to him.

 

Now, as we return to John’s own eye-witness account

of what happened at the Last Supper

in John Chapter 13,

we should keep in mind

that John modestly

never refers to himself by name in his Gospel.

 

He refers to himself only as

one of the “sons of Zebedee,” or

as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.

 

So, we read beginning at John 13:23

that Peter wanted to get to the bottom of it—

to find out which one of them

was about to betray Christ.

 

23 One of them,

the disciple whom Jesus loved,

was reclining next to him.

 

24 Simon Peter motioned to this disciple

and said,

[WHISPER]  Ask him which one he means.”

 

25 Leaning back against Jesus,

he asked him,

[WHISPER]  Lord, who is it?”

 

26 Jesus answered,

“It is the one

to whom I will give this piece of bread

when I have dipped it in the dish.”

 

Then, dipping the piece of bread,

he gave it to Judas,

the son of Simon Iscariot.

 

Now Peter and John knew who the betrayer was,

but the rest of the disciples

didn’t hear

this quiet response.

 

27 As soon as Judas took the bread,

Satan entered into him.

 

This was at least the second time that Satan entered into Judas.

 

Luke 22:3 tells us that “Satan entered Judas”

earlier, too,

and prompted him to go to the religious leaders

and negotiate with them

to turn Jesus over to them

in exchange for money.

 

Satan entered Judas again, here at the Last Supper.

 

Then we read,

 

So Jesus told him,

 

“What you are about to do, do quickly.”

 

28 But no one at the meal understood

why Jesus said this to him.

 

29 Since Judas had charge of the money,

some thought Jesus was telling him

to buy what was needed for the festival,

or to give something to the poor.

 

30 As soon as Judas had taken the bread,

he went out.

 

And it was night.

 

The mood changed again,

after the betrayer Judas left the gathering.

 

31 When he was gone, Jesus said,

 

“Now the Son of Man is glorified

and God is glorified in him.

 

32 If God is glorified in him,

God will glorify the Son in himself,

and will glorify him at once.

 

Jesus knew he was heading to the cross.

 

But his death and resurrection

would lead to his being glorified.

 

He would soon be in heavenly glory again.

 

Three days of sadness were coming,

but that sadness would be replaced

by eternal glory.

 

So, with that in mind,

that Jesus changed the subject again.

 

Matthew’s Gospel gives us

a detailed account of what happened next

beginning at Matthew 26:26,

as we read in our Responsive Reading.

 

26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread,

and when he had given thanks,

he broke it

and gave it to his disciples, saying,

 

“Take and eat; this is my body.”

 

Remember, the bread served with the Passover meal

was always that flat, unleavened bread

that we call “matzoh” today.

 

It was like a large, flat cracker.

 

Jesus “broke it

and gave it to his disciples, saying,

 

‘Take and eat; this is my body.’”

 

Christ’s body was about to be broken

as a sacrifice

to pay for our sins.

 

He used the bread to symbolize that,

and to give us a ceremony to repeat

in memory of what he did.

The four Gospels don’t mention

that our Lord wanted us to repeat this ceremony,

but Paul tells usin his First letter to the Corinthians.

 

In 1 Corinthians 11:23 he says,

 

23 For I received from the Lord

that which I also delivered to you:

 

that the Lord Jesus

on the same night in which He was betrayed

took bread;

24 and when He had given thanks,

He broke it and said,

“Take, eat;

this is My body which is broken for you;

do this in remembrance of Me.”

 

And so, we keep doing this in remembrance of our Lord.

 

The Lord didn’t say

whether to do it daily, weekly, monthly,

or at any other specified interval.

 

But he did give instructions to keep doing it.

 

The tradition in this church is the 1st Sunday of each month.

Continuing at Matthew 26:27, we read,

 

27 Then he took a cup,

and when he had given thanks,

he gave it to them, saying,

Drink from it, all of you.

 

28 This is my blood of the covenant,

which is poured out for many

for the forgiveness of sins.

 

29 I tell you,

I will not drink from this fruit of the vine

from now on until that day when I drink it new

with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

 

God’s old covenant with Israel through Moses

was instituted with the blood of sacrificed animals.

 

His new covenant with the Christian Church through Jesus

was instituted with the blood of his own Son.

 

Paul, too, reports that Christ

was instituting this New Covenant.

 

At 1 Corinthians 11:25, he writes,

 

25 In the same manner

He also took the cup after supper, saying,

“This cup is the new covenant in My blood.

This do, as often as you drink it,

in remembrance of Me.”

 

26 For as often as you eat this bread

and drink this cup,

you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.

 

So, we will keep up this ceremony

of sharing in Christ’s body and blood

until he comes again.

 

Matthew concludes his account of the Last Supper

by saying,

 

30 When they had sung a hymn,

they went out to the Mount of Olives.

 

And there, on the Mount of Olives,

our Lord spoke to the Apostles

some of the most powerful words

that apply to us today.

 

These messages from Jesus

are among my favorite passages in the Bible.

 

They encourage us in our Christian walk.

 

And they will form the topics of my sermons

over the next few weeks.