Maundy Thursday – Grace in the ordinary 6/04/2023

Matthew 26:26-30

26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’

27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.’

30 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

The Living Water from that moment with the Samaritan woman at the well now provides new wine for the world.

The bread of Life from that day on the green provides bread for living food for the world.

The one who heals our blindness to his love we have from birth now opens our eyes to see his love live in this new relationship between God and human beings about to be established.

The one who resurrected his friend Lazarus to a new life now gives his new community to be formed a meal by which they are continually resurrected to new life.

In this holy meal we share with Jesus and share Jesus, we are re-confirmed, re-newed, re-established in this spring of living water inside us that cannot be blocked, this new sight we have for who we are and what we are here for, this new food upon which we feast in forgiveness and reconciliation with God and each other.

What love the Father has for us in this Son and this meal. This is how the Lord lets love live in us and in his world, week after week after week of our life in his calling.

And it is all based on forgiveness. This is a meal of forgiveness. This meal gives what it says – forgiveness and life.

Luther puts it so well;

The words “given for you” and “shed for you100 for the forgiveness of sins” show us that forgiveness of sin,101 life, and salvation are given to us in the sacrament through these words, because where there is forgiveness of sin, there is also life and salvation.(Small Catechism)

But, it looks so ‘ordinary’!! How can the Living Water, the Almighty Lord, the one who healed and challenges that whole city the day he entered it, and still and challenged the whole world with the news that he has already defeated death pour out his living water, his holy food for living, his new sight for living in such an ordinary thing?

Surely he would put on a better show, do more spectacular things, things OUT OF THE ORDINARY to show us where he is offering the EXTRA-ORDINARY gifts we can have as human beings – forgiveness, new start, new hope for every day, new life when the grave comes our way….

Surely the majestic almighty spiritually powered mighty love of God would not look so ordinary?

Luther again:

Eating and drinking certainly do not do it, but rather the words that are recorded: “given for you” and “shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” These words, when accompanied by the physical eating and drinking, are the essential thing in the sacrament, and whoever believes these very words has what they declare and state, namely, “forgiveness of sins.”

To a Roman, the bloodied man on one of the many bloody crosses looked pretty ordinary. To an average Jerusalemite of Roman or Greek origin, Jewish Rabbi’s selling their version of truth were a ‘dime a dozen’. Just another social media “Influencer’?

But it seems that God’s power is hidden in the ordinary. And because he puts his stunning gifts there, he alone gets all the credit for them and anything good they bring to life. If it is in the super-spiritual or humanly extra-ordinary shows of power and prestige and wisdom and beauty, we can so easily flip God and be god for ourselves. We can suck in the glory we crave.

But, here he is – the extra-ordinary gifts of grace in this ordinary meal of Jesus.

  1. If the risen Jesus lets his love live in us by this eating and drinking of his body and blood in bread and wine, how do you know you can come and eat and drink?

Surely you would have to be really “Lutheran” or really smart or have the right connections, or the right Lutheran name or have been not too bad this week or even tried really, really to be very good this week in order to front up for this meal. After all, in life ‘there are no free lunches”. You have to earn the eight to eat at the table of prestige, power, achievement, success, belonging, community…..

Not here. Luther …

Fasting and bodily preparation are in fact a fine external discipline, but a person who has faith in these words, “given for you” and “shed for you for the forgiveness of sins,” is really worthy and well prepared. However, a person who does not believe these words or doubts them is unworthy and unprepared, because the words “for you” require truly believing hearts.

This meal by which way more than good bread and wine are offered is free for all the wrong people; the people who could never earn it.

And so, all that is required is a simple believing, a simple trust to take this Jesus at his promising word and com and dine with all the other wounded and weary sinners who need this living water, this holy bread of life, these new eyes to enjoy the resurrection to the life they have been given by the death and rising of the one who hosts this meal and is this meal.

It is stunning grace here. There is no price for you to pay or could ever pay to get this meal. The price has been paid for you… and while you were a sinner.

There is no entry requirement – except for one – a sinner with a believing heart that knows its sin and desires its healing by Jesus.

Stunning grace in the ordinary:

That the Lord Jesus on the night when he could see his betrayer eating with him; sharing his bread and still went ahead with his suffering and dying work for us;

That the Lord Jesus flipped the ancient Passover of his people to a whole new meal for a whole new community of hope and to live in a new day coming by using ordinary, very human things we all know well like bread and wine;

That the Lord Jesus chose this meal to deliver the precious gift of a living water, a holy food, a new vision of our life and the life of this world and the resurrection we all now live in because of that day we were baptised into it;

That the Lord Jesus gave us this communal meal shared with all the people of God and even angels and arch-angels right here on ordinary earth is stunning grace.

To allow this love to live requires only a believing heart.

What he says here is what you get here – healing, forgiveness, resurrection life. Stunning grace in the ordinary.