It is the Jewish Passover. Jesus and his disciples sit around a table eating the meal and remembering Israel’s great deliverance from Egypt. They are talking about grace and the future. They are thinking about God and his kingdom.
Then Jesus takes the bread from the table, divides it among them and tells them to eat it. It is his body, which is given for them. He takes the cup and passes it among them. It is his blood poured out, sealing the new covenant of God’s grace and forgiveness, ensuring their future in his kingdom. They are sitting among the sacred–the Messiah, and the bread and cup of salvation. They are with each other as the claimed and called. They are about to witness the plan of God being played out in history at the cross of Christ. All of eternity turns on this moment.
But a betrayer is among them. Satan has entered the heart of one of them. He will turn Jesus over to the religious leaders who will have him crucified. No one knows that God will use this very act of betrayal to provide the sacrifice for sin. What a man means for evil, God means for good. The betrayer will not spoil the sacred moment.
While sitting among the sacred, the disciples start to question each other. They are trying to figure out who will betray Jesus. Then the discussion heats up as they rank each other in order of importance. They can’t resist the human urge to designate someone as the greatest of all time. They become judges of each other.
Patient beyond belief, Jesus uses the moment to teach them about humility and service. He, the Humble Servant, maintains the sacredness of the moment.
After reading this account, we are left wondering how these disciples could be so selfish and unaware of what was happening among them. How could they be so blind to grace? How could they treat the sacredness of the moment with Jesus with such contempt as they criticize and condemn each another?
Actually, it’s not that difficult. We are tempted to do it every Sunday.
James, the half-brother of Jesus, writes to the congregations under his care that they are not to be like the disciples. They, too, sit among sacred things. They gather together in the presence of God and in the security of his grace. They hold the faith in the glorious Lord Jesus Christ. They are the redeemed people of God. The communion bread and cup are passed among them, proclaiming the cross of Christ. Their life together and their weekly gatherings are sacred.
But, like the disciples, they miss the moment. They often fail to see the grace among them. In blind selfishness they speak evil against each other and judge each other. They must be admonished (James 4:11-12).
Brothers and sisters, in Christ and as a congregation, we are among sacred things. Do we see and sense this? When we sing our songs and hear the word and take the communion and shake the hand of another, do we realize that it is all because of God’s grace?
If not, we will miss the moment and become critical in spirit. But if we do see, with the eyes of our hearts, the spiritual realities of saving grace among us, we will savor the sacredness. Love will flow and joy will increase. God will be glorified in our midst.
Let’s pray for this.