Since this service is a Communion service, we turn our attention to the 14th chapter of Mark’s Gospel, where we read about the last supper Jesus ate with his disciples.
We begin by thinking about Jesus’ triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem. We read about this in the beginning of chapter 11. We remember that, when Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem, the crowds shouted “Hosanna” in joyful praise to the Lord, we began the service by singing the hymn, “Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna in the highest.”
We move on to chapter 14, reading verses 1 to 21. We remember the woman who, so lovingly, anointed Jesus, her Lord and Saviour.
Speaking of this woman’s beautiful act of loving worship, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her” (verse 9).
Although I am not preaching on this woman’s act of costly devotion to Jesus, I include this part of Mark 14 in today’s reading, so that the woman’s great love for her Saviour will not be forgotten.
We sing a song about our Saviour’s love for us.
We read Mark 14:22-50. We note the final verse of this reading: “All of them deserted him and fled.” I said that this verse brought to mind the words of Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We read these words about the bad news of our sin, and we wonder, “Is there any hope for us?” We ask this question, and we hear God’s answer, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy1:15).
We sing another hymn of praise to Jesus.
This will be an unusual Communion service. Because of COVID restrictions, I will be the only person eating the bread and drinking the wine. After I have eaten the bread and drank the wine, I will invite everyone else to join me in a time of silent prayer, a time of thinking about Jesus, a time of thanking Jesus for his love.
I begin by emphasizing that Jesus is with us, even if only one of us eats the bread and drinks the wine.
The bread and the wine are here – and so is Jesus. Only one of us will eat the bread and drink the wine, but Jesus is with all of us.
Jesus is here. That’s the most important thing.
We may not have a lot of bread, but we have Jesus.
We may not have a lot of wine, but we have Jesus,
Jesus is here. That’s the most important thing.
The amount of bread and wine, this is less important than this: Jesus is here.
We remember Jesus, but we, also, rejoice in his continuing and ongoing presence among us.
Mark doesn’t include the words, “This do in remembrance of me.” For these words, we need to go to Luke 22:19. We may, also, go to the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:24-25.
Remembering is something that takes us back to the past. We remember things that happened in the past. It may be a short time ago. It may be a long time ago. Whether it’s a long time ago or a short time ago, outr focus, in remembering, is on things that happened in the past.
When we remember Jesus, we do not only remember things that happened in the past. We look forward to the future. This is emphasized by Jesus, when he speaks about the Kingdom of God: “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God” (verse 25). We must always look beyond what we do while we are here on earth. Jesus is leading us on to God’s Kingdom.
How does Jesus lead us on to the Kingdom of God?
To answer this question, we turn our attention to the words of Acts 2:42, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”
Let’s think together about this.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching.
They devoted themselves to fellowhip.
They devoted themselves to the breaking of bread.
They devoted themselves to the prayers.
(1) The apostles’ teaching
On the Day of Pentecost, many people heard the Word of the Lord.The preacher was Peter, but the words that Peter spoke were more than his own words. He preached the Word of the Lord.
The people needed to hear the Word of the Lord. We need to hear the Word of the Lord.
When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we do not only eat bread and drink wine. The Word of God is read to us. The Word of God is preached to us.
As well as eating bread and drinking wine, we listen to the Word of the Lord. This is to be accompanied by prayer. We pray that the Word of the Lord will really get through to us. We pray that it will change our way of thinking. We pray that it will change our way of living.
What does this mean? Does it mean being all together in one place:? or Does it mean more than that?
Sometimes, we sing the words, “Bind us together, Lord, with chords that cannot be broken. Bind us together with love.”
This is what we mean when we speak about fellowship. We are bound together by the Lord. We are bound together with chords that cannot be broken. We are bound together with love.
What are the chords that cannot be broken? Is it just the sharing of common interests? or Does fellowship mean more than that? Are we not bound together by the love of the Lord?
The love of the Lord is the strongest connection between us, It’s not so much our love for the Lord. It’s his love for us. He loves you, and he loves me. He loves every one of us. Knowing that we are loved by the Lord: this is the great thing that binds us together with chords that cannot be broken.
(3) The breaking of bread
Is this just about having meals together? or Is this speaking about something more than this? Is it speaking about the Lord’s Supper?
If we take this to mean no more than having meals together, then there’s something missing.
If we see this as a reference to the Lord’s Supper, we must emphasize that the regular celebration of the Lord’s Supper started very early in the life of the followers of Jesus. This underlines the fact that this was always a very important thing. It still is! We have missed it, and we are glad to have the Lord’s Supper again, even if it is in a shortened and modified form.
(4) The prayers
What are we to do when we pray?
We must begin with praising God: “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.”
We go from there to thanking God: “Count your blessings. Name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”
When we pray, we are to pray for strength: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
We are to pray for one another: this is at the heart of being in fellowship with each other.
When we pray for one another, we should also pray for the world: “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth.
In our approach to the Lord’s Table, we sing another hymn.
Following our celebration of the Lord’s Supper, we sing our final hymn.
I pray that you will all be blessed by the Lord.