Can you imagine what it might have been like for Jesus to spend His last evening with His disciples? Filled with love and compassion for them, Jesus took the opportunity to extend His ministry--to show His friends what was really important. He washed their feet to demonstrate that it is more important to serve than be served. He didn't want them to forget why He came, why He chose to spend time with them, why He had to suffer, die and rise from the grave, so He introduced a way for them and for us to remember, by instituting Holy Communion in His Last Supper with His friends.
He took the bread and gave it to His disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body." Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Matthew 26:26-28). The Old Testament covenant was from the sacrifice of shed blood of animals to take away the sins of the people. The New Testament covenant, the one Jesus talked about, was from the sacrifice of His body, broken and poured out once and for all.
Before Jesus instituted communion in the bread and the wine, He said one of His disciples would betray Him. It was Judas Iscariot who found an opportunity to hand over our Savior to the chief priests. They gave him thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave. He betrayed Jesus with a kiss, and He must have known as soon as He did, that Jesus was the Son of God. Maybe he didn't get it when he walked with Jesus, but he finally understood, and that is why he killed himself.
Did he have a choice? Of course he did. Many might disagree because prophesy (Psalm 41:9 and Isaiah 53:3-8) says that Jesus would be betrayed. However, if Judas had repented of his lust for money and accepted that Jesus was the Messiah, God would have used another person to betray Jesus.
Think About It
We have choices just as Judas did. We can choose to serve ourselves or God. It's that simple. Communion reminds me to examine myself, my motives, speech and behavior. Do they glorify Christ? If not, I need to ask Him for forgiveness. If I have wronged anyone, I need to reconcile with them. As far as it depends on me, I want to live in peace with those around me. It's not always easy, and I have to repent when I fail. What do you think? Do you agree or not that Judas had a choice? Do you remember Judas and things Jesus said at communion? Do you self-examine yourself and repent?
Pray About It
Thank you, Lord, for making a way for us to remember the price Jesus paid for our salvation. Help us to live lives honoring all you have done fur us. Amen.
Jesus wanted His disciples to be prepared for what was coming when He went to be with the Father. He said He would come again when people do not expect Him. Again He told stories related to their daily experience. He said, "Now concerning that day and hour no one knows--neither the angels of heaven nor the Son--except the Father alone. As the days of Noah were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be." Some people were eating dinner. Others were getting married. Still other were working at their jobs. Only Noah and his family were prepared for the flood and entered the ark. The others were left behind.
Jesus said, "Be alert, since you don't know what day your Lord is coming." If a man knew his house would be robbed, he would stay up to deal with the robber. But thieves do not announce when they are coming. Our Lord will come unexpected, and I will be ready. Will you?
"Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give them food at the proper time?" Our response to Jesus' love is what makes us faithful. He gives us gifts and abilities to serve according to His plan for our lives. Jesus told a parable about a servant whose master put him in charge of giving food at the proper time. He wanted the others in the household to be able to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner while he was gone. The servant was wise to carry out his duties.
Jesus talked about a wicked servant who said in his heart, My master taking a long time
so he began to beat his fellow servants and eat and drink with drunkards. Jesus said, "That servant's master will come on a day he does not expect and an hour he does not know. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Ouch!
Think About It
We have a choice--to respond to God's love by using our talents and abilities to serve Him and others, or we can love and serve ourselves. The first has rewards in Heaven. The last will receive unbearable punishment with people who only pretend to be good. The suffering will be so severe that they will cry and grit their teeth. The results of both are eternal.
Pray About It
O Lord, make us watchful. Help us prepare for your coming by doing what Jesus did when He was here on earth--helping the poor and healing the sick. Help us to love and show compassion like Jesus. In His precious name we pray, Amen.
Jesus told another parable about the kingdom of heaven, and I will tell you my version based on Matthew 22:1-14.
Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding feast for his son. He sent servants to the invited guests to tell them to come, but they refused." Really? A chance to go to a royal wedding and they refused to go! Oh my!
"Then the king sent more servants and said, 'Tell those who have been invited that dinner is ready. Come.' But they paid no attention and left, one to his field and another to his business. Others mistreated and killed the servants. This enraged the king, so He killed the murderers and burned their city.
"The king sent more servants and said, 'The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Now go to the street corners and invite anyone you find.' The wedding hall was filled with guests. The king, however, found a man who was not wearing wedding clothes. He asked him, 'How did you get in without the proper attire?' Shocked, the man could not say a word.
"The king said to the attendants, 'Tie him hand a foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Ouch!
Think About It
The story has a spiritual meaning. The king is God the Father. His Son is Jesus. The servants are the prophets. The invited guests who refused to come to the wedding are the Pharisees, and the guests who filled the wedding hall are sinners.The wedding feast is our salvation. The wedding clothes are God's righteousness. So who is the man who got in without wedding clothes? Like the king who would have provided wedding clothes if necessary, God has provided everything for us, even our wedding clothes. I have often wondered how the man got into the banquet hall (heaven). Maybe he thought he was good enough. But it is not how good we think we are or how self-righteousness we are that gets us to Heaven. It is the righteousness Jesus paid for with His blood. He gives it to us to wear just as he clothes the flowers of the fields and dresses the blue birds and cardinals. Thank you, Lord, we are not caught in our sinful nature.
Pray About It
Thank you, heavenly Father, for providing for our salvation through your Son Jesus and for dressing us in righteousness so we can live with you forever. Help us to live with heaven in mind. Amen.
The Pharisees of Jesus' time did not believe He was who He said, the Son of God, the Messiah. They tested Him with difficult questions, but He often answered with parables. Here is one that points to the Pharisees' rejection of Him:
There was a landowner, who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a winepress in it, and built a watchtower. He leased it to tenant farmers and went away. When the time came to harvest fruit, he sent his servants to the farmers to collect his fruit. The farmers took his servants, beat one, killed another and stoned a third. Again, he sent other servants, more than the first group, and they did the same to them. Finally, he sent his son to them. 'They will respect my son,' he said. But when the tenant farmers saw the son, they said to each other, 'This is the heir. Come, let's kill him and take his inheritance.' So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those farmers?"
"He will completely destroy those terrible men," they told him, "and lease his vineyard to other farmers who will give him his fruit at the harvest."
A parable is a story with a spiritual meaning. In this parable, God the Father is the landowner and the Pharisees are the wicked tenants. The servants are the prophets whom the Jews mistreated and killed over the ages. The landowner's son is Jesus. In the same way the tenants threw the son out of the vineyard and killed him, the Jews beat Jesus and threw Him out of the city of Jerusalem and crucified Him.
Think About It
The Pharisees spoke their own judgment after Jesus asked what should be done with the wicked tenants. They said, "He will completely destroy those terrible men." If I choose to reject Jesus, that is what will happen to me too. Why should I reject Jesus? He has done everything to save me from destruction. In the parable, the landowner (God) did everything he could to provide a good crop and protect it. He planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a winepress in it, and built a watchtower. In the same way, God has loved me and sent Jesus, His only Son, to take on my punishment on the cross to provide forgiveness and eternal life with Him. I cannot reject my Lord and Savior. No! I will love and serve Him and others.
Pray About It
Thank you, Lord, for the gift of salvation and eternal life. I do not deserve it, but you give an abundant life to me, more than I could ever hope for. Thank you for peace and joy that come every day from knowing you are with me and that you will never ever leave me. Amen.