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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - The Last Supper Before The First Easter

Robert Jeffress - The Last Supper Before The First Easter

Robert Jeffress - The Last Supper Before The First Easter
TOPICS: Last Supper, Communion, Easter

Hi, I am Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. When God delivered the Israelites from Egypt, He established an annual feast to commemorate this monumental moment called the Passover. 1400 years later and the night before Christ would hang from a cross, Jesus observed one last Passover meal with His disciples. In doing so, He would transform the meaning of this ancient tradition. My message is titled The Last Supper Before The first Easter on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.

The atheist Richard Dawkins, an Oxford scientist and atheist. In his book, "The God Delusion" explains why he can't buy Christianity. He said, "I just don't see Jesus coming down and dying on a cross as worthy of that grandeur. If there is a God, it's going to be a whole lot bigger and a whole lot more incomprehensible than anything that any theologian, or any religion has ever proposed". Dawkins didn't know that trying to make the case against Christianity, he was actually making the case for Christianity. You know, if Christianity had been some manufactured myth, it would've been a lot grandeur than the idea of God coming down and dying on a wooden cross in some obscure part of the world. But that is the message and that message is foolishness Paul said to those who are perishing, "But it's the power of God the salvation for those who believe".

The message is God in the form of Jesus did die on a wooden cross for the forgiveness of our sins, and He was raised again on the third day. And so today we're going to look at that last supper Jesus had with His disciples, the last supper before the first Easter. If you have your Bibles, turn to Luke chapter 22. Luke 22 records that final week that led up to the crucifixion and the resurrection. Let's look first at the betrayal preceding the Passover. Luke 22 begins by saying, "Now the feast of unleavened bread, which is called Passover was approaching". This word passover is really a catchall term for two important holidays, occurrences on the Jewish calendar, there's the Passover meal followed by the seven days, the feast of unleavened bread, and they both commemorated two important parts in Jewish history.

Now verse two says, "The chief priest and the scribes were seeking how they may put him to death for they were afraid of the people". While the Jews were preparing for Passover, the religious leaders were plotting on how to get rid of Jesus. They didn't like what He was doing, they didn't like what He was teaching. They wanted to kill Him, but they also didn't want to incur the wrath of the people so they were caught on the horns of a dilemma, how do we get rid of Jesus? And a willing participant volunteered his services. Look at verse three, "And Satan entered into Judas who was called Iscariot". Ish meaning man carry off the village he was from belonging to the number of the 12. It was one of the disciples who would betray Jesus.

Now remember back in Luke chapter six that it tells us that Jesus prayed for whom He should select to be an apostle and then He chose the 12, the last one being Judas. Now you read that and you think maybe Jesus should have prayed a little longer. I mean that seems like a big mistake. But no, Jesus knew exactly what Judas was going to do, and this was all part of the plan to bring about His death and His salvation for those who would believe. Notice what it says in verse three, "Satan entered Judas". How did he enter Judas? Through his one weak spot. He probably had many weak spots, but this was the biggest one, his love for money. Look at verse four, "And Judas went away and discussed with the chief priest and the officers how he might betray Christ to them, and they were glad. They agreed to give him money and so he can send it and began seeking a good opportunity to betray him to them apart from the multitude".

People ask the question, was Judas a Christian? Absolutely not, not at all. He is what Jesus called in His teaching a tear, false wheat. Jesus said, there's the wheat and the tears. Tears look like wheat until the very end when they yield no fruit, no produce. And that was Judas, he was a fake Christian. Now the stage is set for the observance of the Passover. Let's look at the preparation for the meal. Verse seven, "Then came the first day of unleavened bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. And Jesus sent Peter and John saying, go and prepare the Passover for us, so that we may eat it". For 1400 years, the Passover was a reminder of God's physical deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. But now Jesus was going to transform the meaning. This meal that we call the Lord's Supper would be to celebrate our deliverance from spiritual slavery through the death of Jesus Christ.

Now look at verse 14, "When the hour had come, Jesus reclined at the table and the apostles were with Him". Haven't you seen these pictures of the Passover people's seated, you know, banquet style and a U-shaped table? Everybody in his chair, you know, smiling for the painter, you know, that's not what it was. In Jesus' day, the tables had no legs, they sat on the floor. And so that's why it says He reclined at the table. They rested probably on their left elbow, so that they could partake of the food with their right hand. And notice what Jesus said in verse 15. He said, "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".

Now, Jesus wasn't saying, I'll never eat with you again. The fact is just a few days later after Jesus' resurrection on three different occasions, He ate with His disciples in His resurrected body. And isn't that good to know since we're going to have bodies just like Jesus, we're going to be eating in heaven? Do you know that? That's one of the ways we know it. And Paul says our Jesus body is a prototype of the body we will receive. He was going to eat with them again, but what He was saying was this Passover meal that I've transformed into a remembrance of Me, I won't eat that with you again until heaven, until the kingdom of God. So this supper we're observing tonight, that's why you need to be here to get in practice because we're going to be using it and observing it throughout eternity as a memorial for what Christ had done for us.

Now, the original Passover meal that Jesus shared with His disciples and transformed was very complicated. It was an elaborate representation of what had happened to Israel during their time in Egypt. And all of the elements of what we call the Seder, or Passover meal describe a part of that story. For example, they eat bitter herbs, that is a symbol of the bitterness of slavery they endured for more than 400 years in Egypt. Then they have a mixture of fruit, almost a paste like mixture of fruit that is symbolic of the mortar that was used to build the great pyramids at the hands of the enslaved Israelites. It was a hard work that they exerted. And then of course the lamb represented God's passing over them in judgment.

Jesus was willing to leave the glory of heaven. He was willing to give up all of the privileges of being the son of God to come and have His body broken for us. And then the cup, verse 20 says, "Jesus took the cup". This is the third of four cups in the Passover, and He attached a new meaning to that cup as well. Verse 20, "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, the new agreement in my blood". The old agreement, the Old Testament was this, here is my law, you keep it and if you keep it, you'll be righteous. The only problem was nobody could keep God's law. So in that Old Testament, that old covenant was a provision for the broken law of God and that was animal sacrifices. The only problem was they had to keep offering those sacrifices year after year, they were ineffective.

Again the writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 10, beginning with verse one. Look at this, "For the law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things can never by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, they can never make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise would they not have ceased to be offered because the worshipers having been once cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins"? Now, that's a bunch of words, let me summarize it. The writer is saying, if the Old Testament sacrifices were effective the first time they offered a sacrifice, it would've cleansed them from sin forever. But the fact is they had to keep making the same sacrifices year after year after year, proving those sacrifices couldn't take away people's sins otherwise people would be clean after one sacrifice.

And that's what verse three of Hebrews 10 says, "But in those sacrifices, there is a reminder of sins year by year for it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins". The reason God gave the sacrifices, and made them do it year after year after year was to create a longing in them for a one-time sacrifice that would satisfy the demands of a holy God forever. And that's the sacrifice Jesus made, not of the blood of bulls and goats, but He made a sacrifice of His own blood and He offered it not to some earthly priest, but to God Himself. And He has taken away our sins forever. Aren't you grateful for that? We have a high priest who has offered the once for all sacrifice for our sins.

Remember Exodus 12:13, what God said to the Israelites on that night they were getting ready to leave before He sent His 10th and final judgment? He said, "The blood shall be a sign for you on the house where you live. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you". That's where we get Passover from. "I will pass over you and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt". All God needed to see was the blood of that innocent lamb, but that blood of the lamb only exempted them from God's 10th judgment that night. It didn't exempt them from the future that awaited them if they died without the sacrifice. And that is eternal separation from God. When we trust in Jesus to be our savior, God places His blood on our lives. And when God looks at us, He no longer sees our sin. He sees the blood of His own perfect son that was shed on our behalf, and that's why Romans 8:1 Paul says, "There is therefore now no condemnation awaiting those who belong to Christ Jesus".

God passes over us in judgment. We no longer have to feel hell and fear hell, we can know that we will experience eternal life because of what Jesus has done for us. That's the picture of the Lord's supper. Now, we've talked about the preparation for this last supper. We've talked about the partaking of the last supper. Let's talk about the purpose of this passage, the purpose of Passover. You know, it's so easy to do what I did this week and get caught up in the details of the Passover, and the four cups and the Seder and what they represent. It's possible to get so tangled up in the details of this passage that we miss the point. We miss the whole purpose of this supper, we miss the purpose of this chapter. We miss the purpose of the Bible. We miss the point of human history when we get lost in the details.

What is the purpose of this passover? It's found in two words that Jesus repeats. Look at verse 19, "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 for you," underline that. "This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me". And then verse 20, "And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying this cup which is poured out," there it is again "For you, is the new covenant in my blood". That's the purpose of Christ's death for us, for you, for you. That word for, that preposition is the Greek word uper. UPER, uper. Uper can mean for the benefit of, that's obvious. God gave His body, He gave His blood for our benefit. But that preposition uper can also mean in the place of, in the place of.

That's what we mean when we talk about the substitutionary atonement of Christ. Christ is our sin substitute. That means instead of directing God's wrath toward us, which we deserve, He directed His wrath toward His own son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the substitute for us. He is the one who gave His body. He is the one who gave His blood in our place. That's what 2 Corinthians 5:21 is all about. When Paul said, "For God made him Jesus, who knew no sin to become sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him," all of the punishment we deserve was poured out on Christ. All of the righteousness and blessing we don't deserve was given to us because of Christ, that's what it meant. This body, this bread is for you. It's given for you.

You know, we all need to hear that message. But that night in the upper room, there are two men who desperately need to hear that message. That message of forgiveness that Christ was about to make, one was obvious, Judas. Here's a man that in a few hours after that dinner would betray the Lord Jesus Christ and deliver Him over to Jesus' enemies. That's obvious, but there's somebody else who needed to hear the message that night and that was Simon Peter, the leader of the apostles. Remember what Jesus said to him at that dinner?

Luke 22:31, Jesus said, "Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat," literally to put you through the grinder, that's what Satan wants to do. "But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail, and you when once you have turned again will strengthen your brothers". What Jesus was saying was, Simon Satan is trying to destroy you. He's trying to destroy you. I'm praying that your faith will not fail, but it is going to fail. And what I'm praying for you is that when it fails, you'll turn back to Me and give courage to the others. Two men who needed forgiveness that evening. Two men who were offered forgiveness that evening, but note their different responses.

Judas heard the offer, but he turned away from it. Peter heard the offer and he turned toward God's forgiveness. This body, this blood is for you. You may be saying, pastor, you don't understand what I've done, God could never forgive me. Just think the apostle Paul was a blasphemer, a persecutor, a murderer of Christians, yet he said, I found forgiveness. I'm exhibit A of God's willingness to forgive anybody who will simply ask. I'm the chief of sinners.

Peter denied Jesus. I bet you've never done that, once, twice, three times. But God forgave Peter, made him the greatest spokesman for the Christian faith ever, made him the leader of the church. If God can forgive Paul, if he can forgive Peter, He can forgive you. And ladies and gentlemen, that's what this supper is all about tonight. This is what this book that contains the gospel of Jesus is all about, this body that is broken for you. This blood that has been shed for you is not just for somebody else, it is for you, for you, for you.
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