Mandatum 2013

TITLE: “In the Night”

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. Our text for tonight is the Gospel just read from St. Luke chapter 22, as well as the words of institution from our Liturgy.

On the night when He was betrayed. That’s how St. Paul begins the words of institution as he records it in 1 Corinthians. We hear them every time we receive the Lord’s Supper. “Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night when He was betrayed…” These are easy words to gloss over, but they matter. Imagine what it is like to know the time of your own death. I for one have a hard time the night before getting a filling done.

But imagine knowing the time, the place, and the manner of your own death. For you and me, we would be fixated on it. It would be all we could think about. Human beings have a remarkable capacity for selfishness. It comes from our sinful nature. We just can’t get outside ourselves. It is own sin. It is our great weakness.

But not Jesus. On the night when He was betrayed, what was HE thinking about? HE was thinking about you. You were on His mind and in His heart. Everything in our text from St. Luke points to Jesus’ care for His disciples. Jesus picks the house where they are to eat the Passover. He reclines at the Table with them, setting them at ease in the midst of a trying and stressful time. Everything happened, Luke tells us, just as He had told them it would happen (Luke 22:13).

This simple, beautiful reality is what this night is all about. It is what makes this night unlike any other night. It is what makes our God unlike any other God. God sets the time and the place. He orders what the food and drink is going to be at this meal. And He comes and dwells here with you, His people. And it is here, at this Altar, that He gives Himself to you in the Sacrament of the Altar, the Lord’s Supper.

By this simple act of giving Himself to us in the Sacrament, Jesus opens the very heart of God to you. Do you recognize this? Do you see these words this night as the key to unlocking the heart of God for you?

We easily gloss over these words. We forget the cost. We make light of the pain and sorrow. We don’t believe it is that big of a deal.

But it is here again. **“Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night when He was betrayed…” ** This giving heart of God, this sorrow which knows no bounds, this looking to you, it is your very life and salvation. When hells itself is staring Jesus in the face, His thoughts are for you and your salvation. He is sitting at the Table with the man who will betray Him even to death, and His thoughts are of you. He knows the scourging and the mocking, the cynic Pilate and Herod who wanted a show, and His thoughts are of you. Ever nail, every pierce of the thorned crown, through all of it and more, His thoughts are of you. Always of you, and of your salvation. He longs and thirsts for your redemption in Him.

“Our Lord Jesus Christ…” Ah yes, those are the words. That is the life. That is your life, given and shed for you. Come and receive it now. Begin the great three days of suffering and death and resurrection in Him. Join with Him in His death so that you may be joined with Him in His resurrection.

Believe it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

And now the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen.