Jesus the Messiah: The Last Supper
At Hope Mt. Laurel, Pastor Rick unpacked what we know as the Last Supper as a prelude to our first ever communion celebration at our new site. He began by showing us a photograph of a young boy named Nestle. Nestle is a new resident of the House of Abraham in Haiti, is about 4 years old, and has a haunted expression in his eyes. At a glance, you know his life experience has taught him not to trust anyone, and it will take perhaps hundreds of trust inducing life experiences before he can learn to trust again. Very sad and haunted eyes, surrounded by love, but unable to trust it.
We all have to re-learn to trust many times in our lives. Our parents, our teachers, our friends and our pastors reinforce this over and over. But the fragility of trust is such that one betrayal and it can all be undone, taking years to restore. Sometimes restoration is not possible and trust remains broken. In our commemoration of that night, when we celebrate the Eucharist together, Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is often recited. It begins with “Jesus, on the night that he was betrayed, took bread…..” The very celebration that is at the center of our faith is framed by a betrayal of trust, and the name Judas has forever come to represent the worst kinds of disloyalty.
That night, Jesus took hold of the traditional elements of the meal and re-purposed them to represent something that was brand new. He again tried to show them that He came not to represent Judaism 201 or 301, but to bring about a new and different way in which we are to be justified before God. No more Temple, no more animal sacrifice, no more 600+ commandments that we need to observe in order to be seen as righteous before God. The words he spoke that night “this cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” I am sure made no sense at all to them. He had changed the script of the Passover meal and left them confused. None of them imagined what the next 24 hours would bring.
But Jesus knew. One. Last. Perfect. Lamb. Sacrificed. He knew as he took them off to pray in Gethsemane. He knew Judas would bring the soldiers. He knew the others would all flee from him. He knew Peter would deny him. He knew he would end up on the cross in unimaginable pain. He stepped into it as a final act of trust in the Father, knowing what lay ahead.
He also knew he would rise, triumphant over both sin and death, opening the way for you and I to join with him in fellowship, even experiencing intimacy with God. We see the fragility of trust in the way the disciples fled in the moment, overwhelmed by the sudden shift in circumstances. And yet we see the incredible strength of it as well in the way Jesus trusted the Father in those final hours.
The reality is that Love won the day. The Love of the Father-Son-Holy Spirit wins every day. As I am reminded of the look in the eyes of little Nestle, I know that love will win him over. Nothing can withstand the Love the Spirit brings to bear, and we get to participate in the ways that we are called to love. As Rick said to us, Holy Week makes a huge difference because of what Jesus did, and as a result, everything we do can make a difference.
Be a difference maker. Extend love to those around you. And pray for Nestle, pray that the love resident there in the House of Abraham will penetrate his shields and that he will learn to trust again.