At the outset of my message today, which I have titled, In Remembrance of Him,” we must know this first: Unless Jesus Christ is the eternal, Almighty God, physically incarnate in Jesus, then nothing that I will say during the next thirty minutes is either important or even necessary. Remembering Him is a useless exercise.
As I said last week when I made the comparison between the mathematical truth that 2+2=4 and the theological truth that Jesus is Jehovah God incarnate – life as we know it could not exist without 2+2=4, and what we can say about the forgiveness of sins, and the realities of heaven, and hell – nothing would be true if Jesus is not God.
Today is the fifth Sunday of Lent and my text comes from Luke 22:14-20: “When the hour had come, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. And He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes.” And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.”
The incarnate God of the universe told His disciples: “Do this in remembrance of Me.”
I suggest to you that the disciples sitting around that Passover table had no clue about what Jesus was saying to them, and certainly they had no clue what was about to happen to their Lord – or to THEM – in a few short hours.
And I suggest to us all here that so often neither do we have a clue about all that the Lord says to us in His word. Nor do we know what might happen to us also in just a few short hours, or days, or months, or even years that seem like a watch in the night when they pass.
Do this in remembrance of Me.
So, what might the Lord have wanted them to remember? No doubt, the things they heard Him say and saw Him do during their three years together – much of which can be summed up in what Jesus told the disciples of the Baptizer when they came to Jesus asking Him, for John, “Are you the expected One, or shall we look for someone else?”
As an aside, just for a few moments, I want us to consider this question: Just as Jesus’ cousin began to wonder who Jesus really was, did YOU ever wonder about Jesus – who He is? I mean, think of it a moment, John, who also had a miraculous birth, John, who grew up playing with his cousin, the Messiah of Israel and the world – did you ever wonder as he did while languishing in a Roman prison – did you ever wonder about Jesus? Did you ever start to have doubts if Jesus is all He said He is – because if He is, and I belong to Him, then why are things happening in my life as they are happening and have happened?
But you remember Jesus’ message to his imprisoned cousin. He quoted from the Messianic prophecies in Isaiah 35 and 61: “The blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.” (Matthew 11:5-6)
In other words, Jesus said to his despondent cousin – “Yes, I am the eternal One. Trust Me. Even in prison. Even to the executioner. Trust Me, and blessed is the one who does not stumble at Me, who does not take offense at Me.”
Might it be that Jesus wants you and me to remember His word to His despondent cousin – especially when our circumstances have taken a terrible turn for the worse? “Yes, I am the eternal One. Trust Me. Even in prison. Even to the executioner. Trust Me, and blessed is the one who does not stumble at Me, who does not take offense at Me.”
So, that was what Jesus wanted His cousin to remember. And what did He want His disciples at that last supper to remember? Again, certainly His words to them during the past three years, and His works among the lost sheep of the house of Israel. But there is something more – much more – that Jesus wanted them – and wants US – to remember. When He took the bread and the cup and told them to share it among themselves, He was about to tell them what ELSE He wanted them – and us – to remember. John records that exchange in chapters 14-17. For the sake of time, we look now only at a portion of chapter 14.
Point One – Remember this: “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.” He returns to this statement once more toward the end of this chapter in verse 27: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”
Listen, there is a lot going on in this world – not to mention what’s going on in many of our families – that can trouble our hearts. Our society is fractured from one end to the other. Civility and honesty and simple courtesy are things long ago thrown to the curb. Wars and rumors of wars, pestilence, along with rocketing crime are now the stuff of daily headlines.
We have got to get this: When Jesus spoke these words to His apostles and the others at the last supper, they had no clue what was about to happen to Him – or to them. In just a few hours He would be arrested, beaten, bruised, bloodied, and then hung to die on a cross. And each of them would be running away in terror, fearing for their own lives.
And neither do WE have any clue what the next years hold for us – or even the next 24 hours. That is why Jesus wanted His disciples to remember to LET His peace rule in their hearts – but they, and we can ONLY do that by first acknowledging to the Holy Spirit that we desperately need Him, His power, His comfort, His changing of our heart. We must forever reject the false idea gin up that kind of peace in this very troubling world by gritting our teeth and practicing a plethora of self-help ideas. Such supernatural peace is available ONLY through the supernatural work of God, the Holy Spirit.
No number of self-help books will help. Even if we read the Bible cover to cover a dozen times a year, it is ONLY as the Holy Spirit quickens OUR spirits with faith garnered from His word will be find His supernatural peace replacing fear. And THAT is the reason we must remember to pray always for the Holy Spirit to infuse Himself into our hearts.
Now, point number two – Remember this: Jesus wanted them – and us – to remember: “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”
Oh, how easy it is to get used to what we have seen all our lives – so used to it that it seems THIS is our real home. THIS is my reward. Oh, how easy it is for us, even we who have spent our lives in churches where God's word is faithfully taught from week to week – how easy it is for our eyes to slowly turn from the streets of gold to the mundane streets of asphalt and concrete.
Some of you will remember this hymn: This world is not my home, I’m just a-passing through, My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue;
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door, and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.”
O Lord, You know I have no friend like You, if heaven’s not my home, then, Lord, what will I do? The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door, and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.”
When the Holy Spirit inspired the Biblical writer to write these next words, He did so, so that we would remember how Abraham, the Father of our Christian faith, viewed this world. The writer tells us: “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (Hebrews 11:8-10)
Whatever your circumstances and mine – this world is NOT our home. We’re just passing through. And thought the struggles and the tests and the heartaches of this life are very, very real – Jesus wants us to always remember He has gone away to prepare for us an eternal home, AND – AND – that He WILL come again to PERSONALLY take us to our new home. Personally. Remember, Christian, His words: I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”
And now the third point – Remember this: When Jesus told them they knew the way where He was going, “Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:5-6)
Christian, we’ve got to get this, also. Jesus told His disciples – and us – this point so that we always remember it. There is no doorway to eternal life other than Jesus. Not Moses. Not Muhammed. Not Hinduism or Buddhism. Our good works will not get us to heaven, neither will our church attendance – whatever that church might be.
Why do we think St. Paul wrote to the Christians at Corinth: “And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-2)
And why did he write to the Christians in Rome: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17)
And why did Peter proclaim to the Jewish clergy of his day: And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
At that last supper, when Jesus said He is the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one comes to the Father except through Him – Jesus wanted His disciples to remember –as He wants US to remember – that there is a fearful and eternally destructive danger of ‘going along to get along’ when it comes to the irreducible truth that the ONLY road to eternal life is found in Christ. Period. Full stop.
As our world races toward a demonic-breathed pluralism, where it is said all religions lead to the same place – remember this: According to God's holy word, all religions DO lead to the same place – and that place is the Lake of Fire. Only faith in and obedience to Jesus leads to eternal life.
Now, point number four – Remember this: “Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus *said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me?” (John 14:8-10)
Jesus wanted them – and us – to remember this fixed truth as well: God is not three gods, but He is one God in three Persons whom we know as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As we read of Jesus in the gospels, we are reading of Emmanuel – God Almighty WITH US. The Son and the Father are inseparable from one another and from the Holy Spirit. When Jesus said earlier in John’s gospel that He and the Father are ‘one’ – the Greek word used in that text carries the idea of being one ‘essence.’
From Genesis through Revelation, God is described for us as a plurality of ‘one.’ We have looked at those passages many times in past sermons and Bible studies, and please do not get sidetracked trying to understand what is for our human minds incomprehensible. The Holy Spirit simply wants us to remember Jesus IS almighty Jehovah God in the flesh and blood of a human.
That means when we pray to Jesus, we are praying to God. When we ask Jesus for help, we are asking the Almighty Himself. When we put our trust in Jesus, we are putting our trust in Jehovah God. That is also why Jesus said in that first verses: “You believe in God, believe ALSO in Me.”
What utter blasphemy that would be if Jesus is not God.
And finally, for the sake again of time, point five: Jesus wanted them, and wants us, to remember after His is gone from them: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; 17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. (John 16-18)
As we have seen already, Jesus wanted them (and us) to remember this: They were NEVER alone in life. They were never without their heavenly Father at their side through and by the Holy Spirit. Never alone.
Unlike that demonic-inspired song some of us have sung in churches during Good Friday – “You’ve gotta walk that lonesome valley, you’ve gotta walk it by yourself” – Jesus wanted them – and us – to remember this: We are never alone. Never.
That is why St. Paul wrote to the Christians at Corinth: 8 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)
What heartache are you enduring? What fears seem overwhelming? Remember this:
Jesus, the eternal incarnate God tells us we can trust Him. Do not let you’re your heart be troubled. Even in prison. Even to the executioner. We can trust Him to do what is right.
Jesus, the eternal incarnate God is preparing for us an eternal dwelling. And He will come again to receive us to Himself.
Jesus, the eternal incarnate God is the ONLY way to the Father. Jesus is the only truth that will lead us to eternal life. We who know Jesus from the Scriptures know the Father by the same scriptures. Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ. The converse is also true: Knowledge of scripture is knowledge of Christ. And finally, for today: Jesus wants us to remember we are NEVER, ever alone. Even through the valley of the shadow of death.
When we receive the bread and the cup – God help us remember these things.