Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

Lent Devotional - April 6, 2023

Hymn: “When You Woke That Thursday Morning” (LSB #445, v. 1–3)
 When You woke that Thursday morning,
Savior, teacher, faithful friend,
Thoughts of self and safety scorning,
Knowing how the day would end;
Lamb of God, foretold for ages,
Now at last the hour had come
When but One could pay sin’s wages:
You assumed their dreadful sum.
Never so alone and lonely,
Longing with tormented heart
To be with Your dear ones only
For a quiet hour apart:
Sinless Lamb and fallen creature,
One last paschal meal to eat,
One last lesson as their teacher,
Washing Your disciples’ feet.
What was there that You could give them
That would never be outspent,
What great gift that would outlive them,
What last will and testament?
“Show Me and the world you love Me,
Know Me as the Lamb of God:
Do this in remembrance of Me,
Eat this body, drink this blood.”
One has to wonder what it must feel like to wake up one day and know for certain that this is it. This is my last day on earth.

For everyone else it was a normal Passover Eve. There would have been the business of finding a place, getting your sheep slaughtered, and if you are the disciples, another day of watching Jesus teach, and preach, and heal.

I almost wonder as they went through their day if they could catch moments where Jesus seemed far off, or at least, not in the moment. Perhaps as they laughed together, you could notice that Jesus suddenly stopped sooner than the rest and became contemplative. And as the day wore on into evening, I wonder if there were moments when Jesus seemed to be a little on edge, so that when they finally sat down at the meal, the words that Jesus says just come bursting forth: “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover meal with you before I suffered.” You can hear His urgency in those words.

And yet, knowing how the day would end as our hymn puts it, did not make Jesus flee. Knowing as He woke up in the morning that the day would end with Him being carted off and beaten to start His passion did not cause Him to run. Waking up that Thursday morning was the last time He would sleep before He died and that must have been quite a thought. And yet, He did not run or hide. Why? This is the reason why He had come. The purpose of His 30-plus years on earth had arrived. The hope of all mankind now hanging on the edge of the knife.

And Jesus would face it. He would face it as the Lamb of God. Lambs are offered as a sacrifice for sin. Jesus goes to be the sacrificial lamb for the sins of the whole world.

At first it might be curious that we do not have a description at the Last Supper of them partaking of a sacrificial lamb. The reason being to emphasize that the true Lamb of God was before them. Perhaps this lack of mentioning a lamb highlights the fact of what our Lord institutes on this night of nights is the focus instead. The night that the Israelites knew well was the night that they were once slaves in Egypt and when God acted to set them free. The meal they were given to eat that night was the meal they were to celebrate every year so that they would not forget what God had done.

But the meal was also preparing them for a meal that would be given. The eating of the lamb that was sacrificed was a meal where the participants shared in the salvation that God had won for their forefathers. But this meal also looked forward to what Jesus would do now. The Passover meal was the bedrock of the Old Covenant God made on Sinai. But Jesus now fulfills it and institutes a new covenant in His blood.

So, before our Lord faces the wrath that will soon come upon Him, He dishes out the inheritance to His followers. Just like what we do when we make a will before we die, Jesus is also dividing up the spoils. Now Jesus does not have many worldly possessions to give. What Jesus does have will be stripped off of Him and sold in a game of dice at the foot of the cross. Jesus Christ has a much better treasure. A treasure that moths and rust cannot destroy and gifts to give that no thief can rip from you or steal. His gifts are His perfection, righteousness, holiness, and innocence. His last will and new testament is not giving out temporal gifts but spiritual gifts such as eternal life and peace. So, with His body and with His blood, Jesus gives to us His very Self. He is eager to do this, because it is our salvation He has come to give.

But it isn’t only for the Twelve who are in the Upper Room that night. Jesus gives them a command that the inheritance is to be shared. “Do this, as often as you eat and drink of it, in remembrance of me.” That word “remembrance” is more than a cognitive function. It is legal language. It is the sharing of the gifts of Jesus to others. It is the bringing in of all people who have faith in Christ to partake of these gifts.

And so now we come to our day and our time, close as we are to the return of our Lord Jesus again in glory. And as we approach His coming again, He comes with the same blessing and gifts. We need what Jesus gives here to be equipped to meet Him. We need what Jesus offers so that we remember Him and that He will remember us.

This last will and testament of our Savior gives the gift of a new heart. It gives the gift of love and peace. It gives to you eternal life. It gives to you the Lamb of God. It creates in us servant hearts. Show the world you love me. Partaking of this feast, now turn to one another. Since I have loved you in this way, may that kindle in us love for one another. May we give acts of service, whether it be stooping down to wash our feet, to pray and support in time of need, to reach out and act in mercy when others are in need.
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