April 8, 2004 A+D
St. John 13:1-15; 34-35
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The Lord Jesus Christ gave His Body and His Blood upon the cross and in the Upper Room. He gave His Supper on the night in which He was betrayed. It was the eve of the Passover. He would be offered up as the Sacrifice for sin. As the lambs were slaughtered in the Temple the earth outside Jerusalem absorbed the precious Blood of its restoration: the Blood of Justice, the price for Abel’s murder, and for all our sins. He was betrayed in the garden of Eden by Adam. He was betrayed in the garden of Gethsemane by Judas. But they were the same and the devil was in them both. But still, despite the sorrow upon Him, He gave Himself to them. He did not save His strength for the cross. He knelt down and washed them for He came to serve and to cleanse them to the end.
He knew that He would be struck down and they would be scattered. He knew that they would all fail the test, that they would all flee from Him or even flat out deny Him. He went to the place of the skull and faced death alone, betrayed into the hands of those who hated Him. There was no mercy, no friendship or comradery, no benefit, no love for Him. He knew it was coming. He knew that they were not clean. He knew what was in the Cup that He must drink. But He had to drink it in order to fill the Cup of the New Testament. He knew their flesh was too weak to stay awake, too weak to love Him more than they loved themselves. He knew they would betray Him. Men always do.
Still, to this day, He is betrayed. And all of us ask, “Is it I?” For all of us want Him to say, “Oh, no. It is not you. It is one of these others.” But it is. It is us. We have dipped our hand in the bowl and betrayed Him. Slander and deceit have come out of our mouths. We’ve looked the other way while our friends, or our children, copulate like mindless rabbits or as sodomites. We do not want to make waves. We want the honor of men. We are more afraid of them then we are of God. We hold back with our offerings. We count our pennies like Judas with his precious purse! Jesus is denied when we stay in bed on Sunday mornings or are inattentive to the Word or search for a place that scratches us where we itch. For our lusty daydreams of money, power, and sex entertain us better than the Word of God! We are too weak to stay awake or to pray.
It is I. It is you. It is all of us. Repent. We have betrayed Him with a kiss, with perfume and lipstick on our collars, still soiled by our mistresses. We are faithless friends, cowards in the battle when it counts, disgruntled children with murder on our breath.
But in the Upper Room, knowing full well what was in store, knowing full well what they were and who you are, He desired to be one with them, and one with you. He gave His life, Himself to them. He gives it still to you. He gives His flesh as meat. He pours Himself out. He wants you to partake and be joined to His innocence. For He accepted their scorn that you would have the Father’s love. He was alone that you would have the company of heaven. He died that you would live. He forgave them their betrayal, their fear, and their sloth. He forgives you the same. For this is His and the Father’s will. This is the Spirit’s charge: reconcile the world to God, reunite the creation that Adam and the devil broke, restore the good that was almost forgot and the praise and adoration of men to God.
That is why He gives His Body and His Blood. He gives Himself as God and as Man. He gives the Baby in the manger in Bethlehem. He gives the water, set free by His death, that makes a man never thirst again, water that bestows His Name. He gives the bread from heaven and satisfies those who hunger for righteousness. He burns but does not consume. He holds back the drowning flood. He multiplies the flour. He revives dry bones. He gives the harvest from the Tree of Life: the Blood He sweated in the garden, the Flesh they nailed to the cross, the perfect love that never ends. He gives the Body that left the shroud behind in the empty tomb, the Body which ascended from Mt. Olivet to His Father’s right. He gives Himself, His Life, His love, for and to you. He imparts His gracious peace.
He invites you to do this, to eat His Body and drink His Blood, in remembrance of Him. Proclaim His death until He comes again. For you are one with Him. You are united to His dying and His rising. He is placed inside of you, His Godhead and His humanity, in the eating and the drinking. Your sins are no more. You bear His Name. You live His Life. He lives and abides in you. You are His beloved. You will not die. You will rise. You will ascend. For you are not your own. He has loved you to the end.
“Is it I?” You ask.
“Oh, no.” He says. “It is not you and is not them. It is I.”
In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.