May 27 “Supper”

Supper

Jesus and the Twelve enjoyed many meals together, but none like this one.
It was the time of the Passover feast, a time the enemies of Jesus sought to avoid. The Twelve asked Jesus what His plans were for the traditional Passover meal. As He did with the donkeys, He told them to go talk to “a certain man” who would allow them to use a room in his control. It happened just that way and the meal was prepared and presented there. The context for the whole evening was this:

“My time is at hand.”

The laughter was limited at this supper; no one could break the somber mood of Jesus. He looked at all the familiar elements of the meal, bread and wine, candles and oil lamps, shadows and substance as if He were seeing them all for the last time. Finally He spoke what was on His mind.

“…one of you will betray Me.”

He had often spoken of arrest and its horrible aftermath but now He was involving one of them in the business. Each man protested his potential innocence but then wondered if he were capable of such a thing. Judas did not join them in protest until Jesus took some bread and dipped it in the sauce and offered it to Judas saying,

“He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me.”

His private thoughts now laid bare to the others, Judas asked,

“Rabbi, is it I?”

Jesus answered Him:

“You have said it.”

The other men looked at Judas, his face pale for lack of blood and His eyes hollow in the trembling lamplight.

A New Covenant Meal
Jesus took the familiar elements of the Passover meal and redefined them for His followers. This was no longer about deliverance from Egypt only; it was about the deliverance of the whole world from sin. The bread represented His body, soon to be broken. The cup represented His blood, soon to be spilled. This was their last supper until a New Kingdom began, a new life stronger than death, and a new hope impervious to designs of hell. Hearts raced as the new wine of the Kingdom to come coursed through the men. In their weariness a new strength gathered in their minds as the Bread from Heaven nourished them.

To the Garden of Prayer
They sang and hymn (How I wish text of that song was included in the record!) and ascended the Mount of Olives toward their accustomed place of rest and prayer. In route, Jesus tried again to warn them of impending events; they would scatter like frightened sheep when their Shepherd was stricken. The men protested at this, Peter leading the way. His boast was answered by Jesus with a prophesy of repeated denials before sunrise.

“Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!”
And so said all the disciples.”

By this time, they were no longer, “The Twelve.” The night shadows provided Judas an escape from his companions and their uncertain fate. Remembering the words of Jesus that His time had come, Judas stole through the streets of Jerusalem toward the house of Caiaphas, the High Priest.

Scriptures:
Matthew 26:17-35
Now on the first day of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?” And He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.”‘” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover. When evening had come, He sat down with the twelve. Now as they were eating, He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.” And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and each of them began to say to Him, “Lord, is it I?” He answered and said, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me. The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, “Rabbi, is it I?” He said to him, “You have said it.” And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.” Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And so said all the disciples.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, Your love for us is overwhelming. Sometimes there just are no words adequate to express how I feel so You give me the tongues of angels and the miracle of music. Far beyond my ability to conceive is Your care for me, Your personal attendance to the details of my day. Help me live at Your Table, O Lord. I want to follow You as Peter and the disciples did, through the marketplaces of my world, in the Temple of Worship, and into the Garden of Prayer. Help me be faithful in all these arenas as Your life and substance flow through me. Amen.

Song:
This Is My Body (In Love for Me)
Words and Music: Jimmy and Carol Owens

1. This is My body, broken for you,
Bringing you wholeness, Making You free.
Take it and eat it, and when you do,
Do it in love for Me.

2. This is my blood, poured out for you.
Bringing forgiveness, Making You free.
Take it and drink it, and when you do,
Do it in love for me.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

February 21 “Supper”

Supper

This would not be just another meal together. It would be miraculous and meaningful from the first to the last.
Never knowing for sure what Jesus would do from one moment to the next, the Twelve were sure of one thing: it was time for the Passover meal. They asked Jesus what they should do. He chose two of them to go ahead to find a place. Events unfolded just as Jesus said they would and the meal was prepared in a borrowed upper room.

As the familiar meal progressed, Jesus made a remarkable statement:

“…one of you who eats with Me will betray Me.”

First there was a moment of disbelieving silence then there was a chorus of denials and personal questions, “Master is it I?” Each of them knew that he was capable of such a horrible thing and hoped against hope that he would not be the guilty one. Surely only someone not of their group would do such a thing. Jesus insisted it was one the Twelve sharing that meal, that night. Sorrow filled the upper room as heads shook from side to side in disbelief and hearts raced with fear. Who could or would do such a thing? What would Jesus do to him? As if He heard their hearts, Jesus went on:

“…woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had never been born.”

All hunger was gone as the ceremonial food and wine graced the table before them. Jesus took the unleavened bread and broke it, blessed it, and distributed it to each of the men.

“Take, eat; this is My body.”

He took the cup of wine, gave thanks and gave it to each of them and each of them drank from it. He said it represented His blood, that of a New Covenant. He would not eat or drink again until the Kingdom was established. They sang a hymn and returned to a Garden on the side of the Mount of Olives where Jesus loved to pray.

The mood was a somber one and no one spoke, each man lost in his own thoughts and fears.
Jesus broke the heavy silence:

“All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.”

This was too much for Peter. His shouted protest sent roosting birds flying from their nests, breaking the solemnity of the evening.

“Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be.”

The eleven disciples lowered their heads in embarrassment for Peter. For all his boast, he was no better than the rest of them. Jesus smiled at Peter, that disarming smile that tore away a man’s pride.

“…even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.”

Peter was insulted now and spoke even louder, the noise of a man unsure of his own heart.

“If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!”

Peter’s blustery courage seemed to infect the others and they aligned with him, agreeing that none of them would ever do such a thing. No one noticed that Judas had slipped away into the night.

Scriptures:
Mark 14: 12-31
Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they killed the Passover lamb, His disciples said to Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare, that You may eat the Passover?” And He sent out two of His disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him. Wherever he goes in, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”‘ Then he will show you a large upper room, furnished and prepared; there make ready for us.” So His disciples went out, and came into the city, and found it just as He had said to them; and they prepared the Passover. In the evening He came with the twelve. Now as they sat and ate, Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you who eats with Me will betray Me.” And they began to be sorrowful, and to say to Him one by one, “Is it I?” And another said, “Is it I?” He answered and said to them, “It is one of the twelve, who dips with Me in the dish. The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had never been born.” And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And He said to them, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many. Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep will be scattered.’ “But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be.” Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that today, even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” But he spoke more vehemently, “If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And they all said likewise.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, may my courage never prove to be only bluster. My heart’s desire is to follow wherever You may lead. You know this already and You also know that I am only human. My deeds sometimes stray from my intentions. You know my heart and all its secrets. I invite Your Holy Spirit there to do the work only He can do. I have eaten the bread and drank from the cup You instituted that night. Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to be for me the substance and life of You, Lord Jesus, “the holy food and drink of new and unending life.” Amen.

Song:
In Love for Me
Words: Carol Owens. Music: Jimmy Owens

This is my body, broken for you,
Bringing you wholeness, making you free.
Take it and eat it, and when you do,
Do it in love for me.

This is my blood, poured out for you,
Bringing forgiveness, making you free.
Take it and drink it, and when you do,
Do it in love for me.
Do it in love for me.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

August 15, 2018 “Communion”

Communion

The sudden disappearance of Judas did nothing to retard the preparations for Passover.
Jesus sent Peter and John to find a suitable room for them to celebrate the covenantal meal and to see that it was properly prepared. It would be very much like finding the colt of the donkey. Jesus predicted events and people who would lead them to their goals. It happened just as Jesus prophesied:

  • They met a man carrying a pitcher of water. (Such work had to be completed before sundown.)
  • They followed the man to his house and entered.
  • They asked the question Jesus gave them:

“The Teacher says to you, “Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”

Just as Jesus predicted, the man showed them to a large room. They took possession of the room and prepared the Passover meal

Peter and John marveled at the control Jesus had over events and people. Surely nothing could happen to Him that He did not allow to happen. Their inner sense of security warmed within them as they prepared the room and the meal for their beloved leader. They hardly noticed when the other ten appeared for the meal that Judas was back among them.

The Last and the First
The meal that followed these preparations is called the Last Supper for, indeed, it was the last fellowship meal until in a few days, under a New Covenant, they would all eat freshly caught fish by the sea. This Passover was also the last such religious ceremony of the Old Covenant serving as a memorial to the deliverance of the Children of Israel from Egypt. To be sure, Passovers and Passover meals have been celebrated in all the years since that night, but they continue as a sign of the Old Covenant. On this night a New Covenant would be announced to take its place. It would be a celebration of a broader deliverance.

This meal was also the First Communion celebration. Jesus recast the role of the meal as the fulfillment of the Old Covenant and the initiation of the New. Just as in the Old Covenant, the sign of the New Covenant will be this ceremonial meal, redefined by the work Jesus was about to do. Hear His words:

“With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”

As wonderful as the deliverance from Egypt had been, believers would from this point celebrate the deliverance of the mankind from sin. The Twelve had celebrated this meal their whole lives and now Jesus was about to reveal the true meaning of it.

His Body and Blood
Jesus took bread and blessed it. He broke it an distributed it among the men, saying

“This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

Next, He took a cup of wine and blessed it. He gave it to the men with these words:

“This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.”

It was confusing to have things one had always understood radically redefined. The next words of Jesus added to their sudden discomfort:

“But behold, the hand of My betrayer is with Me on the table.”

Forgetting the significance of the cup and the bread and the New Covenant, eleven of the twelve wondered if Jesus meant one of them. The twelfth man knew.

Scriptures:
Luke:22:7-23
NKJV
Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover must be killed. And He sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat.” So they said to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare?” And He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house which he enters. Then you shall say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, “Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”‘ Then he will show you a large, furnished upper room; there make ready.” So they went and found it just as He had said to them, and they prepared the Passover. When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you. But behold, the hand of My betrayer is with Me on the table. And truly the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!” Then they began to question among themselves, which of them it was who would do this thing.

Prayer:
Eucharistic Prayer
from the Book of Common Prayer Rite II (Adapted by SRP)
We celebrate the memorial of our redemption, O Father, in this sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. Recalling his death, resurrection, and ascension, we offer you these gifts.Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to symbolize for your people the Body and Blood of your Son, the holy food and drink of new and unending life in him. Sanctify us also that we may faithfully receive this holy Sacrament, and serve you in unity, constancy, and peace; and at the last day bring us with all your saints into the joy of your eternal kingdom. All this we ask through your Son Jesus Christ: By him, and with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit all honor and glory is yours, Almighty Father, now and forever. AMEN.

Song:
Communion Song

Words and Music: Barry McGuire

1. Take this bread I give to you And as you do remember Me
This bread is My body broken just for you Take it, eat it.
Each time you do, Remember Me remember Me.

2. Take this cup I fill for you And as you do remember Me
This cup is the new covenant I’m makin’ with you Take it, drink it.
Each time you do, Remember Me remember Me.

Verse 3
Take this love I’ve given you And as you do
Remember Me. Remember Me. Remember Me.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

April 11, 2017 The Last Supper

Supper

Unable to speak, walls are mute witnesses to what happens within them.
They merely hold up the ceiling, hold out the weather, and hold on to their secrets.

It was a large room, borrowed, of course, for the occasion of the last supper Jesus and his disciples would have together. Thirteen men, and perhaps the necessary servants for such a large gathering, filled the room, not at all sure of what to expect.

  • After Jesus quelled the selfish thoughts on the part of some about who might be the greatest among His followers by taking a towel and washing every foot they walked on, the mood became a serious one.
  • The air was thick with the smells of food, with the oily scents of burning lamps and candles, and with—significance.

Never Quite Sure…
Those who followed Him were never quite sure what He was doing at the moment or what He might do next. In the last few weeks a sense of sorrow emanated from Him. He told them strange things about being killed and rising again but they had no room in their hearts for such talk. He was the proven master of all things: storms, sickness, demons, and death itself. He never exhibited one bit of fear of the religious leaders or the Roman leaders or even their terrible army. Who would kill Him? It was not easy to ignore the questions such remarks left in their plans.

Chosen
Just as He had called each of them to follow Him, Jesus had called them here to this meal. On this occasion He chose to reveal details of what was to come for them.

  • He established the New Covenant meal ceremony—it would be a New Covenant in His own blood,
  • He predicted His own betrayal, telling them He was going away but would soon return to them in a way so new they could not imagine it.
  • He left them the legacy of His peace, the peace that prevailed in the face of every danger and dilemma.
  • He told in great detail about the coming ministry of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, the Divine Helper who would soon reside within them.
  • And He prayed for them to be in the world but not of it and above all things, to be ONE, even as He and the Father are ONE.

There was no way those sitting together in this large chamber with its smoke-stained walls standing silent watch could grasp the meaning of His words but they did not forget. Each Gospel writer is faithful to record the details for us.

The Lord’s Supper
So for centuries, believers have received the cup and the bread in honor of Jesus’ sacrifice. We have debated its meaning, its nature, its appropriateness for any or all of us. But we have obeyed His command to do this “in remembrance of me.” Though the ongoing discussion divides us, the meal itself unites us across all the lines we draw and the borders we guard.

Why? Because their Last Supper became our Lord’s Supper. As we enter into the past, our present is blessed with His presence.

Scriptures:
Matt 26:20
When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve
Mark 14:16-17
The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover. When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve
Luke 22:13-14
They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover. When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table.
John 13:1-5
It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love. The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Prayer:
(from the Book of Common Prayer Adapted SRP)
(Lord Jesus, we) proclaim the mystery of faith: Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again. We celebrate the memorial of our redemption, O Father, in this sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. Recalling Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension, we offer you these gifts. Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to be for your people … the holy food and drink of new and unending life in him. Sanctify us also that we may faithfully receive this holy Sacrament, and serve you in unity, constancy, and peace; and at the last day bring us with all your saints into the joy of your eternal kingdom. All this we ask through your Son Jesus Christ: By him, and with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit all honor and glory is yours, Almighty Father, now and for ever. Amen.

Song:
Let Us Break Bread Together
Traditional

1. Let us break bread together on our knees;
let us break bread together on our knees;

Refrain:
When I fall on my knees,
with my face to the Lord of life (rising sun),
O Lord, have mercy on me

2. Let us drink wine together on our knees;
let us drink wine together on our knees.

Refrain

3. Let us praise God together on our knees;
let us praise God together on our knees.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved